Eastbourne’s Sovereign Harbour

Sunny, spacious and sheltered, Sovereign Harbour on the East Sussex coastline is an ideal base for yacht or motorboat cruising and fishing and combines quality facilities, a full-service boatyard and an array of waterfront restaurants.

Conveniently situated just east of Eastbourne, between Brighton and Hastings, the four inner harbours, which form Sovereign Harbour Marina, provide moorings for up to 800 boats.

The marina has been sympathetically developed on the site of former gravel pits and ponds which were filled in to create deep-water basins, which are accessed via one of two 24-hour high-capacity locks. Having celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2023, this marina has become a destination in its own right.
The Waterfront provides shopping, leisure, food and entertainment for locals and visitors alike.

The marina’s reception is open 24 hours a day and pre-booking is strongly advised, especially in peak season. Visiting vessels are welcome and asked to report to the marina reception upon arrival via VHF Channel 17 or by telephone 01323 470099. The self-service fuel pontoon is conveniently also open 24 hours a day, dispensing marine diesel and unleaded petrol. Bottled gas can be found at the marina reception.

Boaters enjoy the relaxed surroundings, with a range of berthing and boat storage options, and the added security of being inside a locked marina. The marina’s experienced boatyard team, and comprehensive equipment, provide lifting services. Plus, a well-stocked chandlery and a range of specialist marina services are on hand to cater for all needs.

One of the best clubhouses on the South Coast, Sovereign Harbour Yacht Club is a thriving club with active racing, cruising and social programmes throughout the year and offers a warm and friendly welcome to members, their guests and visiting boaters.

To approach by sea (not be relied on for navigation) – from the east or southeast, remain alert for the tide rips over the Royal Sovereign Shoal, the Horse of Willingdon and the inshore Coxheath Shoal. Approaching from the west, clear the shore by a mile after rounding Beachy Head. The Martello Tower at Langney Point serves as a landmark with a Xenon light (Fl (3).15s12m7M) to indicate the marina. A Safe Water Mark (LFl.10s) at the waypoint Lat 50° 47’.37N Long 000° 20’.81E marks the start of the entrance channel.

To seaward of the breakwater entrance the channel is buoyed with two green starboard marks and a yellow special mark. These buoys mark a World War One wreck, visible at LW springs. It is important to keep the white sector of the single point leading light which leads in on 258° true. If the leading light is red, turn to starboard, if green, turn to port.

A five-knot speed limit applies inside the harbour. Pass between the breakwaters marked with lights, coming off the leading line and heading towards the locks once you can see the traffic signals. The locks are accessible at all states of the tide. Proceed through the buoyed channel (dredged to -2.4m below chart datum). Please note that some parts of the Outer Harbour dry at low water.

By road, Sovereign Harbour Marina is around 50 miles from the M25 via the M23, A22 or A21 routes south. For satellite navigation, use the postcode BN23 5DD. Sovereign Harbour is signposted from the A259. At the traffic lights take the direction of Pevensey Bay Village, at the Martello Roundabout take the first exit to Sovereign Harbour North. Follow signs for the Harbour Office and RNLI.

By train, Eastbourne is just 90 minutes from London Victoria or 45 minutes from Gatwick Airport.

Basing yourself at Sovereign Harbour either as a berth holder or a visitor offers a wide range of choices to cruise the East Sussex coastline. There are many places to visit and explore from Selsey Bill to Dover. To the west, you can cruise along to Premier’s livelier Brighton Marina, passing Beachy Head and Birling Gap en route.

To the east, you can enjoy Pevensey Bay and Normans Bay, and a little further are the beautiful Camber Sands and Rye – a pretty medieval town with half-timbered houses. Remember to keep an eye on the tides as Rye harbour dries out completely!

Sovereign Harbour can also be an ideal starting point to cross the English Channel and visit Northern France’s ports, such as Dieppe and Fecamp.

The Waterfront at Sovereign Harbour has a selection of restaurants, cafes and walks. With regular markets, car shows and rallies, there is always plenty going on. A game of glow-in-the-dark mini golf or even getting a haircut is on offer. There is also live music most weekends at the height of summer at one of the many bars and restaurants. At the Sovereign Harbour Retail Park there is a range of high street stores, a supermarket and a 24-hour gym. At the nearby town of Eastbourne, there are traditional seaside attractions, museums and theatre.

Nearby, Pevensey Castle is famously the landing place of William the Conqueror’s army in 1066. Visit the Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway for a day of fun and adventure for the whole family. The five-acre lake, nature and wildlife allows visitors to relax in the prize-winning tea gardens with refreshments from the railway-style café. Alternatively, enjoy a day out at Eastbourne’s Beacon Centre, with its wide range of shops and restaurants, or from Eastbourne Pier holiday makers can hop on and off an open-top bus to explore the National Trust grounds of Beachy Head, Belle Tout and Birling Gap.

There is also the opportunity to take a high-speed RIB tour or join a fishing or diving excursion from Sovereign Harbour Marina.

Paul Garrett, S/Y POMPETTE II
I have had a boat at Sovereign Harbour since around late 2009 – my first berth was in the West Harbour and following the purchase of a different boat in 2011, I moved to the Inner Harbour, remaining there ever since. I did contemplate other marinas before I moved here, but the location of the marina suited me, plus I really like the marina itself. Although there are a large number of boats, because the marina is split into different areas it never feels overly crowded and makes it more interesting when compared to a large, single basin marina. My boat has been lifted here pretty much every year and the boatyard has always done a good job, so I have no complaints there. The boatyard surface could be better as it can get dusty in the summer. It is great having the restaurants on-site at the Waterfront and my wife and I like to make use of these during the summer months when we spend the night on the boat. Transiting the locks, whilst not an issue itself, can slow things down during the busier summer months, but if the weather is good, there are worst places to be waiting. The facilities here are pretty good, and although some areas are beginning to show their age a bit, everything is always well maintained with any issues being rectified pretty quickly. The staff are always friendly and cooperative, which remains true over all the time I have been here. Overall, I enjoy being at Sovereign Harbour and cannot see myself going anywhere else anytime soon.

Harbour Master & Marina Manager: Daniel Heckford
VHF: Channel 17
Tel: 01323 470 099
Email: eastbourne@premiermarinas.com

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