SOA East Coast

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East Coast Rivers

Shrimpers are supreme here where there are shifting bars to cross and muddy shallows inside, with creeks to explore. Each river is very different in character, from the wide open, commercial, Orwell to the quieter Deben. From the messy but delightful Mersea island and its magic fish cafe to Arthur Ransome’s much loved Walton Backwaters with major seal population, from the shingle banks of the Ore and its castle, becoming the Alde, and leading to smartish Aldeburgh, and for the brave come up to Snape, but don't get stuck! it’s a great area.

There is a great website with pilotage information for this area, including chartlets for the Ore and Deben entrances and recent changes
















River Deben


River Deben Entrance Feb 2021The Deben entrance (above) at Felixstowe Ferry is guarded by a line of napoleonic Martello towers. But there was a large fort here even in roman times. In the 14th century this was known as Goseford and was one of the busiest harbours on the east coast. Today it is very peaceful with the past echoed in the names of some of the creeks - like "Kingsfleet". In WW2 Bawdsey Manor (top centre in photo)  was the birthplace of radar. The Deben meanders through sparsely populated countryside up past the riparian villages (and pubs!) of Ramsholt an Waldringfield and is navigable (at high water) for most boats up to  lovely Woodbridge with its wondeful Tide Mill. But if you’re a Shrimper, there’s another 2 miles to go up through Melton to Wliford Bridge. After that its a job for kayaks or dinghies.

There are many species of migratory wildfowl, seals and if, you're very lucky, the occasional otter to be spotted.
Just across the river from Woodbridge is the National Trust property of Sutton Hoo. This is the site of the discovery (in 1939) of the Anglo-Saxon ship buruial and its fantastic treasures -  this really is well worth a visit if you are in the area.
All of the settlements along the Deben have their own friendly Harbour Masters who will find you a visitors mooring 









   The Ore and Alde

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Getting into the Ore from the sea is always interesting. You definitely want to be coming in on the flood but remember that the current direction reverses about 90mins after the tide turns, and picking your way through the narrow and shallow entrance requires serious attention to steering. (There are bouys). Once inside the "knolls" (sandbanks), it is a great sensation to be sailing on flat water and yet still hear the waves crashing into the seaward side, just a few yards away.

Orford is a pretty village wiith a magnificent castle and was once a major port. It now boats a hotel, two pubs, and some great "foodie" outlets. . Across the river is the fascinating Orford Ness. The Ness is not exactly "pretty" but is one of th emost extraordinary places in the UK. Now a National Trust property but for most of the 20th century it was owned and used by various MOD agencies for aircraft and bomb (including atomic) research.

The racing highlight of the season has to be Aldeburgh YC regatta. This provides racing for a wide range of keelboats, including Shrimpers (not technically a keelboat - but don't tell them). 

Visitors moorings can be found at Orford, Aldeburgh, Iken and (if you are very lucky) Snape

Snape is the final navigable (barely) destination on the Alde and of course is home to the renowned Snape Maltings concert hall. It is well worth a visit even if you are not musically inclined. If you do attempt Snape  - it must be on a rising tide as you will almost certainly go aground. But it is just soft mud.







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Up the Creek in Mansion Reach (Alde)


  The Orwell

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The Orwell is wonderfully accessible whatever the weather and tide, with five marinas at various points as you go up to Ipswich, stopping off points like Pin Mill with the excellent Butt and Oyster pub and Thames barges on the mud.





A collection of East Coast cruising logs 

North Norfolk Coast


Cruise to the Kentish Stour


Creek crawling in Suffolk  - Bumbling up the Butley Creek

A Medway Cruise

Robin Whittle's super description of the Blackwater event and he and Gillie's later navigation of the Chelmer river can be reached by clicking Blackwater and Chelmer