|Location||South-east coast of Devon, England|
|Max. width||4.5 mi (7.2 km)|
Tor Bay (sometimes written as Torbay) is a bay on the south-east coast of the county of Devon, England. Facing east into the English Channel, it is about 4.5 mi (7.2 km) wide from north to south. The settlements of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, which lie along its coastline, are known collectively as Torbay.
Tor Bay is bounded by outcrops of Devonian limestone forming its northern limit at Hope's Nose and its southern at Berry Head. The geology of the area is varied and complex, recognised by the 2007 designation of the English Riviera Geopark which includes all of Tor Bay's coastline.
During the last glacial period, when sea level was much lower, Tor Bay was dry land, as is shown by the existence of a submerged forest in the bay. It was overwhelmed during the Flandrian transgression which started about 10,000 years ago.
Because it is sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds, Tor Bay has long been one of the safest refuges for shipping between Land's End and the Isle of Wight. In the mid-17th century, the bay was occasionally used by the naval fleet as an anchorage and as a gathering place for convoys. These uses were greatly expanded during the wars with France up to 1815, though the bay's exposure to easterly winds caused a number of near disasters when the wind changed direction unexpectedly.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions on the cruise industry led to Tor Bay being used as a layup location to anchor numerous cruise ships including five Holland America vessels, as well as Tui ships Marella Explorer and Marella Explorer 2. Cunard anchored ships in nearby Babbacombe Bay.
The bay contains two sheltered harbours, at Torquay and Brixham. Almost the whole of the bay affords good anchorages and shelter from westerly winds. The bay's sheltered nature makes it a popular location for watersports. There are regular passenger ferry services across the bay between Torquay and Brixham.
- Joint, Laura. (17 September 2007) BBC Global status for Torbay. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
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- Michael Duffy; et al., eds. (1992). "Introduction". The New Maritime History of Devon Volume 1. From early times to the late eighteenth century. London: Conway Maritime Press. p. 14. ISBN 0-85177-611-6.
- Davies, J. D. (1992). "Devon and the Navy in the Civil and Dutch Wars, 1642–88". The New Maritime History of Devon Volume 1. From early times to the late eighteenth century. London: Conway Maritime Press. p. 177. ISBN 0-85177-611-6.
- Duffy, Martin (1992). "Devon and the Naval Strategy of the French Wars 1689–1815". The New Maritime History of Devon Volume 1. From early times to the late eighteenth century. London: Conway Maritime Press. pp. 185–6. ISBN 0-85177-611-6.
- Henderson, Guy (12 May 2021). "Emotional farewell from Torbay cruise ship captain". In Your Area. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
- NIMA (1 January 2004). Pub191, 2004 Sailing Directions (Enroute): English Channel. ProStar Publications. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-1-57785-564-4. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- "About the Geopark". English Riviera Global Geopark. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- "Torbay ferry wars over reduced fares". Herald Express. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2014.