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Plymouth Sound, or locally just The Sound, is a bay at Plymouthmarker in Englandmarker.

Its south west and south east corners are Penlee Pointmarker in Cornwallmarker and Wembury Pointmarker on Devonmarker, a distance of about 3 nautical miles (6 km). Its northern limit is Plymouth Hoemarker giving a north-south distance of nearly 3 nautical miles (6 km).

The Sound has three water entrances. The marine entrance is from the English Channelmarker to the south, with a deep-water channel to the west of the breakwater. There are two freshwater intlets: one, from the northwest, is from the River Tamar via the Hamoazemarker and Devonport Dockyardmarker, the largest naval dockyard in western Europe. The other, at northeast, is from the River Plymmarker disgorrging into its narrow estuary, Cattewatermarker harbour between Mount Battenmarker and the Royal Citadelmarker.

In addition to ships of the Royal Navy, large commercial vessels, including ferries to Francemarker and Spainmarker use the Sound from Millbay Docks. Fishing vessels use it from Sutton Harbour beside the old town of Plymouth, called the Barbicanmarker. There are marinas at Sutton Harbour, Mount Wise in the Hamoaze and at Turnchapel.

In the centre of the Sound, midway between Bovisand Bay and Cawsand Baymarker, is Plymouth Breakwatermarker, which creates a harbour protecting anchored ships from the frequent south-western storms. The breakwater is around long, stands in around 11 metres / 36 feet of water and was built by John Rennie and Joseph Whidbey starting in 1812. The breakwater has a 23 metre / 75 foot tall lighthouse on its western end and a 9 metre / 30 foot tall beacon with a spherical cage on top at the eastern end. It is said that the cage is a life saving device designed to keep wrecked sailors from drowning in the huge waves of a storm on the low-lying breakwater.

Drake's Islandmarker is 400 metres long and around 100 metre wide and situated at the north of the Sound. It was fortified to defend Drake's Channel, the only deep-water route to Devonport. The Bridge is a shallow reef that links Drake's Island and the Cornish mainland. At low water the depth of the Bridge can be less than one metre but at high water it can rise to 5 metres. In World War I this natural barrier was supplemented by other obstructions to prevent submarines and small ships attacking the naval base.

Mount Battenmarker, a former Royal Air Force flying boat and search and rescue base, is located at the northeast corner of the Sound. T. E. Lawrence was stationed here as Aircraftsman Shaw.

Over the years, the Sound has been defended by Drakes Island, Picklecombe Fortmarker, Cawsand Fortmarker, the Breakwater Fort, Fort Bovisandmarker, Staddon Fort and Stamford Fort.

A harbour and reservoir were built at Bovisand before the fort existed to supply men-o-war anchored in the Sound with fresh water. Joseph Whidbey supervised the building of the Breakwater from Bovisand Lodge, from which there is a view down the full length of the breakwater.

The Sound has been the site of a number of aircraft crashes and shipwrecks:

External links


Fort Bovisand, Kendal McDonald ISBN 0-9528637-1-5

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