Online Pilot Guide
for yachts and power boats

East Coast England

Local Map
Area Map

Neighbouring rivers in Online Pilot

Walton Backwaters

Apart from the Thames, the River Orwell is the busiest waterway on the East Coast with lots of traffic, lots of facilities but also some very pleasing stretches of countryside. Its much quieter sister the Stour empties into the sea at the same point.

From the south the approach to the river is the same as for the Walton Backwaters (qv). Instead of finding the Pye End buoy, join the recommended yacht track south of the shipping lane and follow it in past the Felixstowe Docks keeping a little outside the buoyed channel. If you get too far away from the shipping lane you will find that the aptly name Shelf shallows quickly.

From the north the recommended crossing point of the shipping lane is inshore of the south cardinal Platters buoy, whence you join the recommended route to the south. There is a channel marked by yellow buoys for small craft coming from the east.

Moorings and marinas
There is nowhere for pleasure boats to lie up in Felixstowe or Harwich, but just opposite is the Shotley Marina which is the nearest refuge if you are not planning to stay long in the area. Sail a short distance west down the Stour and then locate the beacons indicating the entrance channel to the marina. Entry is through a lock.

Proceeding up the Orwell, the Suffolk Yacht Harbour at Levington is only a couple of miles upstream on the east side and is accessible at all states of the tide. It has all facilities, including a sailmaker and a fun restaurant in a former light-ship.

About the same distance further up on the west bank is Pin Mill, beloved of East Coast traditionalists, with a line of moorings and some anchoring possibilities. Ashore (by dinghy) is the Butt & Oyster, a traditional seventeenth century pub and restaurant of distinction.

Next up on the same side is the Royal Harwich Yacht Club with its rather gracious stretch of lawn down to the river. Berths in the club’s marina are all let to members but there are spaces available for visitors and the club says it has never yet had to turn anyone away.

Next door on the same pretty stretch of river is Woolverstone Marina with all facilities. Its pontoons out on the water have some of the best views, though they are said, at least by rivals, to be more affected by the wash of passing ships than more sheltered berths off the main drag.

Fox’s, also on the west side, lies just beyond the motorway bridge, boasting sophisticated chandlery, repair and maintenance facilities. The local yacht club runs a rather decent little café.

Finally, if you want to berth in the town of Ipswich itself you can lock into Ipswich Wet Dock for Ipswich Haven Marina or Neptune Marina about a mile upstream from Fox’s on the other side. Call the lockmaster 24 hours a day on VHF ch 68. You can enter at any state of the tide.

If you tire of the bustle on the Orwell there is always the Stour. It’s a pleasant sail in rural surroundings of no great excitement (John Constable's landscapes were painted further upstream), but if you want to linger at all you will have either to anchor or take the ground, there being no marinas other than Shotley. Upstream of Wrabness Point the buoyed channel begins to shoal, though you should be able to reach Mistley around HW where you can tie up against the wharf used for occasional commercial traffic. To go further on to Manningtree, yachts of any size will need springs and a bit of luck.

© 2008 Yachtpilot


Port Data

Tidally sensitive

Not in the Orwell, yes in the Stour

Tidal stream
Starts to run NE up the coast from around HW Walton. Max strength 0.4-1.9 knots.

Tidal differences on standard port
HW at Ipswich about 25 mins later than HW Walton-on-the-Naze. HW Mistley, Walton +30 mins.

Admiralty SC5607 Buy now
Imray Y16 Buy now

Local clubs and marinas
Shotley Marina: tel +44 (0)1473 788982,
Suffolk Yacht Harbour: tel +44 (0)1473 659465,
Woolverstone Marina: tel +44 (0)1473 780206,
Fox's Marina: tel +44 (0)1473 689111,
Ipswich Haven Marina: tel +44 (0)1473 236644
Neptune Marina: tel +44 (0)1473 215204,
Royal Harwich Yacht Club: tel +44 (0)1473 780319,
Haven Ports YC: tel +44 (0)1473 659658
Pin Mill SC: tel +44 (0)1473 780271
Shotley Point YC

Yes at all the marinas

Yes at all the marinas

Shotley Marina