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Guest plesbit

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A name which strikes fear into the heart of salties, or so it seems. As the only other realistic destination from Lowestoft (besides Yarmouth, been there done that) I have been looking into this seemingly infamous destination. Sadly what I have found so far largely confirms the reputation this place appears to have and doesn't make happy reading. The approach instructions have served to re-enforce how little we actually know and understand about sea passage. Is Southwold somewhere that the (very) inexperienced, like us, are best to keep away from?

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If approached in accordance with pilot book and any local download for changes in procedure there’s no reason why not, it’s a straight run until inside and a quick kick over to stbd. Probably easier than the Ore or Deben.

It’s always worth remembering that the Pilot books are usually written by and for Yachtsmen, so when they talk about stemming fast flows and difficulties that may cause, they are usually talking about a vessel with an auxiliary that wouldn’t pull a hen off it’s nest not a power cruiser. :-D

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Hi Simon,

Unlike David I have no expierience of this place but a friend of mine has gone in for the first time this week, expect to be rafted up to 4 or 5 deep, the tide is apparently very fast flowing on springs, he estimates 6 or 7 nots at 1 1/2 hors before high water, there is a titanic sized rope on the sea bed that the harbour master will drag up for you to tie onto. his advice was that the entrance was fairly straight forward but the tide needs carefull consideration.


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Yes tidal flows of around 6kts are referred to in the approach instructions. The thing to remember though is that we have no GPS chart plotter, only a very basic sounder and basically no experience whatsoever of navigating to a plan. Our one "passage", that of Yarmouth to Lowestoft, was a case of see it in the distance and head for it. A cursory glance at our coastal chart showed a direct point to point from our starting position was possible as we did not pass near anything which was even vaguely shallow.

The information provided by the harbour appears to line up a very specific channel through which to run in - one which comes from the south east and runs north west so an approach from Lowestoft would involve going further out to sea to avoid the sand banks, scouting round them and then taking up a specific point to point route in. Not even vaguely taxing to a skipper of David's stature, especially when supported by someone of Rachel's experience but to someone who's never even had to navigate to any kind of plan it is an altogether more daunting prospect.

One of the things I plan to do this week is plot a (safe) course along the coast on our existing GPS plotter (notice I didn't say "chart" plotter) and follow it. The course will be just a handful of way points off the coast between Lowestoft and Yarmouth, selected according to our coastal chart to keep us away from any sandbanks or other hazards and in consultation with our more experienced friends at the RNSYC. Although I plan to fit some more sophisticated nav equipment during our winter layup I'll keep the existing system permanently mounted as an operational spare so it'll be a useful exercise to use it to try to follow a route. Until we are confident in doing that I think a trip to Southwold should remain off the agenda but researching it anyway is a useful exercise as it helps to close up the gaps in what I know.

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Here's an illustrated one I prepared earlier :-D


Latest Update


A shoal patch has developed 100m due east of the northern breakwater.

An approach to the entrance made on a bearing of 330º T passing close to the southern pier.

1.5m (LAT) of water may be found within the entrance however caution is advised on entering at low water with any more than a light seaway.

The best time for entry into Southwold harbour is from half flood up to just before high water in order to benefit from 'ferry gliding' into the visitors berth. Please be aware that tide of up to 6 knots may prevail in the harbour so please employ measures to avoid being set onto the Bailey Bridge.

Harbourmasters office is manned between 08.00 and 20.00


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It was rather cosey. And we should have gone to Southwold on Saturday but didn't. The others went on without us after we were forced to turn back. I am gutted - I had sooo hoped to come on here today and dance a virtual jig about our first ever venture to another river system, albeit nothing more than a harbour.


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