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Visiting Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne, England: among the largest of marinas in northern Europe, built since 1993

Updated on June 19, 2012
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne
Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne | Source
Marina at Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne
Marina at Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne | Source
Mersey Class lifeboat 12-36 Royal Thames at its moorings in Soverign Harbour, Eastbourne, Sussex.
Mersey Class lifeboat 12-36 Royal Thames at its moorings in Soverign Harbour, Eastbourne, Sussex. | Source
Map location of Eastbourne, East Sussex
Map location of Eastbourne, East Sussex | Source

Life on the water

Somewhat remarkably, Eastbourne's enormous marina and waterfront complex, among the largest in northern Europe, did not exist before 1993.

Boat tours of the Harbour carry many visitors; the tour boats are also sometimes used as a ferry by local Harbour residents.

The Harbour is also a commercial port: nets are a common sight, along with private yachts. Some of the yachts in the marina carry various overseas flags (1): not unusually Dutch or French, and I have regularly seen a yacht at the Harbour with a stated Transatlantic provenance.

The Harbour actually consists of three, separate harbours, none of them naturally occurring, all of which involved an enormous work of dredging in an area of Eastbourne which used to be referred to as the Crumbles. Now among many other aspects, Sovereign Harbour is a sought-after residential area; some of the more spacious properties with their own moorings are valued at approx. U$S 1.5 million. Of course, this means that real estate is highly important business and thus the permanent presence at the Harbour of realtors (which in England are called estate agents) is not surprising.

A busy Waterfront of stores and eating places makes the Harbour a social hub also.The fact that a retail park is within walking distance of the marina and the residential area makes the use of an automobile optional and even unnecessary.

A boat lift serves the maintenance needs of vessels, some of which are very large. A series of locks is permanently supervised, and in use throughout the year.

The RNLI (2) bases Eastbourne Lifeboat at the Harbour. For Sea Cadets, the Harbour is a base for learning basic seafaring skills.

Because the Harbour is so vast, and so varied, the visitor is unlikely to become bored!

Eastbourne is situated in England's East Sussex, on a coastline sometimes known as the Sunshine Coast.

June 19, 2012


(1) A number of years ago, fishing boats in Sovereign Harbour were also flying Canadian flags. This was not because they were from Canada, but because their owners were showing support for Canada's stance in a fishing dispute with the European Union!

(2) Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Nearer the Downtown area of Eastbourne by the Promenade, there is a Lifeboat museum, close to the Martello Wish Tower.

Also worth seeing

In Eastbourne itself, visitor attractions include: Beachy Head and its lighthouse; the Pier and Promenade; the Martello Wish Tower; the Redoubt Fortress and Military Museum; Leaf Hall; and many others. (Pevensey, with its ancient castle, is actually closer to the Harbour than is the Downtown area of Eastbourne.)


How to get there: Continental Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. (Distance from London Heathrow to Eastbourne : 146 kilometres.) For access by road, take M25/M23/A23/A27. There are rail links to Eastbourne from London Victoria railroad station. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 5 years ago

      Heather Jacobs: For those of us who knew Eastbourne before Sovereign Harbour was even built, it has been really pleasant surprise. Thank-you for your comment.

    • Heather Jacobs profile image

      Heather Jacobs 5 years ago

      Beautiful photos and great hub! I'm sad I never made it over there when I lived in England.