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Sovereign Harbour (Eastbourne Marina)

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Overview





Sovereign Harbour, or Eastbourne Marina, is a large-scale artificial harbour with the Waterfront retail and restaurant development, that lies close north of Langney Point, about fifteen miles east of Brighton. The marina complex is made up of several basins entered via one of two high capacity locks that are available 24x7x365.

Sovereign Harbour's inner basins offer complete protection from all conditions. The harbour’s well-marked channel and wide entrance provide safe access at all stages of tides, night and day, in all reasonable conditions. The only exception is during strong conditions from east-by-northeast round to east-southeast that would make the shallow entrance a hazard for newcomers. Access, however, may still be possible during the upper half of the tide under the advice of the marina office.



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Keyfacts for Sovereign Harbour (Eastbourne Marina)
Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 6 or more from ENE, E, ESE, SE and SSE.Restriction: access via a channel with a lock or enclosed by a lockNote: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
January 24th 2019

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 6 or more from ENE, E, ESE, SE and SSE.Restriction: access via a channel with a lock or enclosed by a lockNote: harbour fees may be charged



Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 47.299' N, 000° 20.040' E

This is the head of the southern breakwater, at the entrance to the Outer Harbour. At night it exhibits a light Fl(4)R12s3m6M.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southeast England’s Coastal Overview for North Foreland to the Isle of Wight Route location
  • The high rise complex is visible from seaward and the entrance is easily identified by a Martello Tower on the shore at Langney Point at the root of the southern breakwater.

  • Steer for the Safe Water Mark, LFl.10s, that marks the start of the entrance channel. From a position of about 150 metres south of safe water mark, the entrance should be approached on a bearing of 258ºT which is supported by a light at night.

  • Pass south of two green starboard marks, Fl.G.3s and Fl.G.5s that mark a drying wreck, and through the heads of the Outer Harbour breakwaters.

  • Continue to the locks and lock-in as directed by the marina office on Channel 17.


Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Sovereign Harbour (Eastbourne Marina) for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Newhaven - 6.5 miles W
  2. Brighton - 10.4 miles W
  3. Rye Harbour - 11.6 miles ENE
  4. Shoreham - 13.8 miles W
  5. Littlehampton - 20.6 miles W
  6. Folkestone - 22.9 miles ENE
  7. Dover - 26.2 miles ENE
  8. Dell Quay - 27.1 miles W
  9. Chichester Marina - 27.3 miles W
  10. Birdham Pool Marina - 27.4 miles W
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Newhaven - 6.5 miles W
  2. Brighton - 10.4 miles W
  3. Rye Harbour - 11.6 miles ENE
  4. Shoreham - 13.8 miles W
  5. Littlehampton - 20.6 miles W
  6. Folkestone - 22.9 miles ENE
  7. Dover - 26.2 miles ENE
  8. Dell Quay - 27.1 miles W
  9. Chichester Marina - 27.3 miles W
  10. Birdham Pool Marina - 27.4 miles W
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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How to get in?
Sovereign Harbour's principal Inner Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Sovereign Harbour is a development of the beach land known as The Crumbles which is close east to the seaside resort town of Eastbourne. The large-scale marina complex consists of four separate basins, a retail park and several housing projects with both permanent and holiday properties. The four linked inner basins are entered via one of two high capacity locks that are available 24x7.

The entrance locks are approached via an Outer Harbour that is tidal. It is protected by the arms of two 250 metre long breakwaters and needs frequent dredging to keep the access channels supporting a nominal depth of 2 metres. So deeper draft vessels should make enquiries as to the current available depth when approaching at low water. The local RNLI lifeboat has its moorings on the north side of the approach to the locks in the Outer Harbour but it can occasionally be seen moored in one of the locks during periods of bad weather.


Sovereign Harbour's twin 50 metre long locks
Image: Michael Harpur


Inside the locks, the marina offers in-water berthing for boats up to 22 metres with a draft of up to 3 metres. There is also dry storage for trailer-sailers and a purpose-built HydroPort for personal watercraft.

The marina is operated by Premier Marinas who welcome visitors. The office, that overlooks the northmost lock, maintains a listening watch on VHF channel 17 (if not Channel 80 unlike most marinas in the UK). On arrival at the Safe Water Mark, if not before, contact should be made by VHF. Alternatively P: +44 1323 470 099, or E:eastbourneberths@premiermarinas.com

It is advisable to monitor VHF Channel 17 for navigation information whilst approaching the harbour as the marina provides ongoing lock opening information on this channel. The marina office will be delighted to provide information about tides, depths of the dredged channel and other relevant information if so required.


Martello Tower No.66 close to the root of the south breakwater
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Offshore details are available in the southeast England’s Coastal Overview for North Foreland to the Isle of Wight Route location. The extensive marina, with its high rise waterside development, is conspicuous from seaward. Its entrance is easily identified by a 7 metre high Martello Tower No.66 on Langney Point and at the root of the southern breakwater. By night it exhibits a light, Fl(3)15s12m7M, to indicate the marina, and its xenon light is bright enough to be seen in daylight.


Yacht approaching the Outer Harbour of Sovereign Harbour or Eastbourne Marina
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location This is the position of the Safe Water Mark, LFl.10s, located ½ a mile eastward of the entrance and at the start of the entrance channel. The breakwater will be readily evident from here and, from a position of about 250 metres westward of the safe water mark, the entrance should be approached on a bearing of 258ºT. This line of approach is supported by a directional light, Dir.Fl. WRG 5s4m1M. If the leading light is red, turn to starboard to regain the white sector; if green, turn to port.
Please note

This would be the time to making locking arrangments. The lock should be approached with fenders rigged on both sides of the vessel and mooring lines, and springers, ready.



The approach channel is dredged annually to 2.0 metres but it is subject to silting so anyone operating in the margins should check the current status. To seaward of the breakwater entrance, the channel is buoyed with two green starboard marks, Fl.G.3s and Fl.G.5s. These mark a World War One wreck that is visible at LW springs and dries to 0.3 metres chart datum.


Yacht approaching the locks through the outer tidal harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Pass between the outer heads of the breakwaters, which by night exhibit port and starboard lights Fl(4)R12s3m6M, and FlG5s3m6M respectively on posts. Once through the heads and into the Outer Harbour, the twin locks will be clearly visible ahead. It is safe to come off the leading line and steer directly for the locks passing between starboard and port buoys in the tidal Outer Harbour.

The Lifeboat, or its moorings, will also be passed to starboard. Parts of the Outer Harbour dry at low water so it is important to stick to the channel in the Outer Harbour. A 3-knot speed limit applies around the Waterfront and the North Channel.


Sovereign Harbour's twin locks
Image: Michael Harpur


The two large locks, 50 metres long by 15 metres wide, provide access to the Inner Harbour. They are in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, closing on the hour and half-hour. Obey the locks IPTS traffic signals and if there is any doubt the lock keeper will advise on VHF Channel 17.

  • • Red – vessels must not proceed. Vessels inbound to the lock should heave to or give way to outward bound vessels.

  • • Green – vessels may enter the lock.

  • • Green/white/green – caution. Vessels may proceed only when specific instructions to do so have been received.


Yacht exiting the northern of the two locks
Image: Michael Harpur


Vessels inbound to the lock should heave to or give way to outward bound vessels. The lifeboat can occasionally be seen moored in one of the locks during particularly bad weather conditions. In this case, locking procedures should be made in such a fashion as not to impede a launch of the lifeboat at very short notice when called-out.


The marina office overlooking the northernmost of Sovereign Harbour's two locks
Image: Michael Harpur


Tie up as far forward into the lock as possible, or alongside other vessels. Always move as far forward in the lock as possible and when secure, switch off your engines and radar. Help following vessels coming into the lock chamber behind you.

Yachts in one of Sovereign Harbour's 50 metre long lock chambers
Image: Oast House Archive via CC BY-SA 2.0


The lock keeper will greet you onboard, take vessel details and allocate a suitable berth.

Haven location Berth as directed by the marina staff. The main marina is situated in the Inner Harbour located immediately behind the set of twin locks. This central body of water has 4 metres of water and contains the marina’s visitor berths amongst those of resident berth holders. The locks and all lifting bridges are operated from the Harbour Office located next to the north locks.

The linked South, West and North Harbours are accessed via lifting bridges from the Inner Harbour. These are used mostly by resident berth holders as well as the local fishing vessels. Of these the North Harbour, the latest development in the harbour, contains the largest body of water. The West and South basins are much smaller and are typically used by local residents of the apartment complexes.


Why visit here?
Sovereign Harbour took its name from the Royal Sovereign Shoal located about five miles to the southeast. Also known as the Wide Mouth Shoal, the shoal took on its new name from HMS Royal Sovereign that was almost wrecked on the shoal. This was the English fleet's flagship during the July 1690 'Battle of Beachy Head' which remains to this day one of the biggest defeats of the British navy.

Battle of Beachy Head
Image: Pieter van der Aa I
The location in which Sovereign Harbour sits today was originally a shingle spit called the ‘Crumbles’. It is an area that has an interesting past, the most prominent being its Martello Towers 64 and 66 which remain today.

At the turn of the 19th-Century, the threat of invasion resulted in the large-scale construction of artillery barracks along this vulnerable coastline. Two batteries, each with six 24-pounders, were built at Langney Point between 1794-5. Following a robust defence of a stone tower at Mortella Point, Corsica, against a Royal Navy attack in 1793-4, a decision was made to build a chain of Martello towers along the south and east coasts of England as well as Ireland. Those in the Eastbourne area Nos. 66-73 were completed in 1808, and can be seen today including those along the shore of the Crumbles.

Armed with 24-pounder muzzle loading guns and designed for a garrison of 350 men the towers were used for many years. However several of them fell prey to the sea and now only two survive Martello Towers 64 along the shoreline north of the entrance, and No. 66 that today marks the approach path. They are Listed Buildings and Scheduled Monuments but are both currently in poor condition and are on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk Register. There was also a fort/battery close to Tower 66, rifle butts and a coast guard station at the Crumbles, but these have long since disappeared.


Martello Towers 64 to the northeast of the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur


After the towers were abandoned the shingle bank of the 'Crumbles' was largely used to provide a source of ballast that was essential to the developing railway networks. The area used to have its own railway line, which was in use for some seventy years. In 1911, the Eastbourne Aviation Company was formed at the 'Crumbles' on the site by the present Sovereign Centre. The Company not only taught people how to fly, but it also built planes and was particularly successful during the First World War following being requisitioned for the war effort. The company continued commercially after the war but struggled to survive. Work ceased in the factory in 1924 and the company was finally dissolved in 1932. The sheds remained unused for a number of years until they were finally demolished in 1940.


Sovereign Harbour was born out of disused gravel pits
Image: Nick Rowland


Gravel was extracted on an industrial scale from 1931, mainly for use on roads and houses. This continued until the extraction plant was finally closed in 1986. Then, there was little else at the eastern end of Eastbourne’s promenade which used to terminate at a vast area of shingle known as the Crumbles, which spread across the beach land to neighbouring Pevensey Bay. But in 1993, Sovereign Harbour emerged out of the flooded ponds and gravel pits which were filled-in or adapted to create the massive marina complex seen today.


High Rise buildings overlooking Sovereign Harbour's Inner Harbour
Image: Oast House Archive via CC BY-SA 2.0


Sovereign Harbour was developed by Carillion Construction Limited and opened by the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Premier Marinas bought the development from Carillion, and subsequently in January 2018, after being probed by the financial watchdog, Carillion was involuntarily liquidated. Though Carillion has become a shameful blot on the face of business management the Sovereign Harbour development they left behind remains a world-class location.

Eastbourne's Pier
Image: T appletart via CC ASA 4.0


From a sailing point of view, Sovereign Harbour is an ideal location to visit for a wide range of reasons. The marina’s position makes it a convenient South Coast passage location offering an easy drop-in for vessels cruising from the Kentish coastal ports to and from The Solent. It also makes a great start point for crossing the English Channel to France, Holland and Belgium. Entry and exit from the seaward are direct and uncomplicated in almost all weather conditions. Once in, being secured behind two high-speed locks with an inner harbour flanked by buildings, the marina offers excellent protection from strong winds. Provisioning in terms of food, fuel, repairs, spares are all excellent and easily attended to. Likewise, leisure facilities are all a short stroll from the pontoons and the resort town of Eastbourne is only a few miles away.


What facilities are available?
The marina and town offer all facilities. Water and electricity, up to £5 is included in the berthing fee. The Marina has three shower and toilet blocks located in the West, North and Inner Harbours. There are also two launderettes at the marina, one in the Inner Harbour and one in the North Harbour, both located inside the toilet and shower buildings. The launderettes are open 24 hours a day, every day, alongside coin operated washing/drying machines. WiFi is available via hotspots located throughout the marina for a charge.

Directly adjacent to the locks (and the office) is a fuel pontoon where self-service pumps, available 24x7, for diesel and petrol can be found. Enter a payment card at the payment point, select the amount of fuel and grade required and wait for authorisation of the transaction, remove the nozzle from the pump and begin dispensing fuel. Holding tank pump-out facilities are available on the fuel berth – please contact the Marina Reception for service ahead of arriving at the fuel pontoon: VHF Channel 17. Gas is also available at the Marina Reception – customers wishing to buy gas should bring along their empty cylinder.

A well-stocked chandler can be found on site and a wide range of specialist services from rigging, marine electronics, GRP repairs, to cosmetic work and engineering. Should a vessel need to come out there is a 50-tonne boat hoist, 2-tonne crane.

About 10 minutes from the pontoons and directly behind the project is a commercial park with an ASDA supermarket, Next, Boots & Matalan stores, a large cinema etc with ATMs. All these large-scale shops are built around a huge car-park. Although officially not part of the development, it offers yachtsmen convenient superstores for provisions, and what cannot be found here can be sourced in Eastbourne a few miles away.

Waterfront restaurants, bars, and shops are situated between North and South harbours, and the local yacht club, 'Sovereign Harbour Yacht Club', has a permanent building close by.

Sovereign Harbour Marina offers a quality boatyard service, including the use of an Italian Ascom travel lift capable of lifting up to 50 tonnes (max. beam of 5.7m). This machine also offers a 1.5-tonne crane, ideal for engine lifts or stepping masts. Alongside the travel lift the marina benefits from a new towing tractor, a 20-tonne boat mover and a specialist marine forklift truck. The marina has established itself as a quality boatyard and a one-stop shop for all boating needs.

The nearest mainline station is Eastbourne with regular connections to Brighton and London Victoria, via Gatwick Airport, as well as trains to Ashford International for Eurostar services. London Victoria is just 90 minutes away.


Any security concerns?
Sovereign Harbour is a lock-in marina so that all boat movements in and out of the marina are monitored by Premier Marinas staff. A gated security access control system is operated so that its gates are only accessed by berth holders and visitors using control fobs. CCTV cameras cover the bridgeheads, pontoons, car parks and shore side.

Lock keepers patrol the marina two to three times a night and management also patrol the marina weekly, vigilant to defects and any changes. The main marina team also patrol the marina daily.


With thanks to:
eOceanic


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Sovereign Harbour, East Sussex, England
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Yachts in Sovereign Harbour's Inner Harbour
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Yachts in Sovereign Harbour's Inner Harbour
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Sovereign Harbour's fuel dock immediately inside the northern lock
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Sovereign Harbour's marina office overlooking the northern lock
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Sovereign Harbour RNLI facility
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Sovereign Harbour RNLI Diamond Jubilee lifeboat
Image: eOceanic thanks Prioryman via CC BY-SA 2.0


Sovereign Harbour's Outer Harbour
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Sovereign Harbour's lock seen from the Outer Harbour
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Yacht exiting with the Martello on Langley Point in the backdrop
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

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