A short cruise in the English Channel - Ramsgate to Emsworth

Recommended places to take your Cape Cutter 19 with details of anchorages, marinas etc

A short cruise in the English Channel - Ramsgate to Emsworth

Postby Runrig » Wed Dec 08, 2021 5:39 pm

A short cruise in the English Channel – Ramsgate to Chichester

This cruise was taken in July 2021 as restrictions were easing from the Covid pandemic. Some limits to the facilities available were still in place in the harbours visited.

Ramsgate to Dover (15nm)
Ramsgate has very good road and rail connections. The harbour is very well equipped with a launching ramp, boat hoist and full range of chandlery and boat services. The town has many cafes, restaurants and food shops. In normal times the Royal Temple YC in a grand building over-looking the harbour offers a warm welcome and good food.

To make the most of tide down the channel I left Ramsgate 4 hours after HW Dover. In Ramsgate Outer Harbour cross toward the south pier to leave the harbour on the south side of the entrance, the recommended track for yachts. From the entrance continue E past No.6 PHB to North Quern North Cardinal. Turning S from North Quern keeps you outside the shallows and drying banks of Sandwich Bay. If the weather is fair and the wind in the right direction it is a memorable short cruise along the coast toward the famous white cliffs of Dover.

Dover is one of the busiest ports in the world. You need to be fully aware of how to approach the harbour. Contact Dover Port Control (Ch.74) when 3 miles distant to make them aware of your intentions. On my approach I was instructed to contact the port again when 1 mile distant and then to wait outside the Eastern entrance until instructed to proceed. This involved a 15-minute wait outside the entrance until a small gap in the procession of ferries appeared and permission was given to enter the harbour at ‘best speed’.

Once approaching the marina in the inner harbour switch to Ch 80 for Inner Harbour Control. They will allocate berthing and advise when you can proceed along the narrow channel to the Tidal Harbour Marina.

There is major reconstruction being carried out in Dover Harbour, particularly the marina area. This involves the whole marina area being redesigned so entrance instructions are likely to be different soon.

Beyond the marina area Dover has limited attractions, being somewhere most people pass through, rather than visit. The castle is well worth a visit if spending some time in the town, as is a walk out beyond the ferry port on to the white cliffs.

Dover to Rye (27nm)
Leaving Dover it is necessary to observe the communications procedure of contacting Dover Inner Harbour on Ch. 80 before leaving the marina and then Dover Port Control (Ch74.) before entering the outer harbour area. Permission to leave via the western entrance is necessary as boats can be entering unseen by boats in the harbour.

The ideal time to arrive at Rye river entrance is HW -1hr. This gives plenty of water in the channel and time enough to navigate the channel before the tide turns and strong currents build in the river.

To arrive off Rye at an appropriate time I departed Dover HW +3. This avoided the strongest of the adverse tides off Dover and gave time in hand to beat down the channel, past Folkestone and round Dungeness 1 mile offshore, before turning W along the coast toward the channel up to Rye.

From the Rye Fairway Buoy the winding channel through the drying sand banks leads to the harbour entrance, a significant red tripod timber structure marks the port side of the entrance channel. From the structure the straight channel is well marked on both sides into the river. The groyne on the port side of the channel leading to the training wall is submerged at HW but well-marked by a line of pole beacons atop the groyne.

The pilot book details stopping at the harbour office to pay dues and receive berthing information before proceeding. With time being tight before the tide turned the HM was content to take payment over the phone once berthed and allow me to proceed, without stopping, up toward Rye.

Continuing upriver, at the confluence of the River Rother and Rock Channel turn to port up the Rock Channel toward Strand Quay. The moorings for visiting boats are to starboard on the quay wall before the road bridge. The public toilets and shower block for visiting boats are visible on the roadside by the moorings. The HM will provide the code for the showers when making payment.

Two points to be aware of when mooring; the considerable tidal range on the drying moorings requires ample mooring line to be set, and the mud river bottom is not level at all the points along the quay. Boats can settle at an uncomfortable angle on some moorings.

Rye is a beautiful little town, picturesque and well served with good pubs, restaurants and cafes. The Standard Inn on The Mint is a fine old pub with excellent food and drink. Marino’s Fish Bar next-door does great fish and chips but be warned, if eating outdoors on the quay seagulls will quickly gather in large numbers.

Rye to Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne (20nm)
The original plan for this day was to sail around Beachy Head toward Newhaven or Brighton but with a wind from the south-west and swell increasing the plan was revised to beat across Hastings Bay towards the Sovereign Harbour Marina.

Departing Strand Quay at HW gives plenty of water and a favourable current in the river and then a passage down The Channel with the ebb.

Once in the bay the only area of note to be aware of would be the Royal Sovereign Shoals, 4nm SE of Sovereign Harbour entrance. With a sea running the shoals can be a place of very challenging conditions.

A fairway buoy half a mile E of Sovereign Harbour Marina marks the approach. West of the fairway buoy the channel is well marked first by two SHB and then a channel marked on both port and starboard sides. Entrance to the marina is via a lock which usually operates each half hour. The lock keeper can be contacted on Ch.17 for instructions. Be aware that the floating pontoons in the lock are 1.2m above the water level so fenders and lines need to be rigged to suit.

Sovereign Harbour is a massive boating, entertainment and residential complex. Not to everyone’s taste but a welcome refuge in any circumstance. A full range of boat services is available, there is a large supermarket nearby and a large range of bars and restaurants. The Royal Sovereign Yacht Club also has a large bar area and serves food.

Sovereign Harbour to Shoreham (25nm)
One of the benefits of Sovereign Harbour is the proximity to Beachy Head. Enabling the passage around the headland to be planned with little concern for arriving too late for the tide.

Departing through the marina lock HW-1 gives time to cover the distance to Beachy Head for the first of the ebb tide down Channel. With wind and tide favourable it was possible to pass within half a mile of the famous lighthouse, with its red stripe, which marks Beachy Head. In less favourable conditions the pilot advises giving the headland a 2-mile berth.

The popularity of sailing in this area is such that Brighton Marina was full and not accepting visiting boats. Newhaven was a possibility if conditions were unfavourable after Beachy Head. With a f4 from S it was a pleasant cruise along the coast past both these destinations to Shoreham.

Contact Shoreham Harbour Radio (Ch14) when approaching the harbour entrance for permission to enter the outer harbour. The entrance can be busy, used by dinghy clubs and commercial ships. Make sure your intentions are known before entering.
Once inside the breakwaters follow the eastern pier round toward the twin locks which give access to the Lady Bee Marina and the commercial moorings of The Canal. Aim for the smaller lock to port and enter when the gates are open, and the lock keeper has instructed it is safe to proceed. In the lock secure to the starboard side and be ready to adjust lines. There is considerable wash when the sluices are opened and when the gates open. Do not be too hasty in releasing the lines to proceed. Let the wash settle.

Once in The Canal the pontoons of the Lazy Bee Marina are off to port. A phone call to the marina before arrival will provide details of berth and access codes to the simple showers and pontoon gates. There is a small chandler as part of the marina and next door is a decent pub / restaurant, The New Port Arms. Going up Station Rd opposite the marina and continuing along Southwick St past The Ship Inn there is a small parade of shops which includes a Co-op supermarket and Drury Coffee Shop, with excellent breakfast baked goods. There is also a launderette. For fuel I walked well over a mile toward Brighton before finding a petrol station.

Visiting boats are usually allocated the berths on the outside of the marina pontoons. Passing ships and strong winds from the S can make these uncomfortable berths. Be mindful if expecting to sit out a bit of weather at Shoreham. The other small downside of Shoreham is that all boats up to 12m length are charged the same daily rate, £30 per night. Probably the most I have ever paid for a night’s mooring and far from the best facilities.

Shoreham to Emsworth Marina, Chichester Harbour (34nm)
The challenge for this leg of the cruise is to make the most of the west going ebb tide and to arrive at the entrance to Chichester Harbour with a flood tide clearing the bar and to access Emsworth Marina.

There are very strong currents in the Chichester entrance, particularly the ebb tide. Wind over tide conditions with on shore winds and a strong ebb should be avoided.

To make the best of tides and a forecast wind shift I left Shoreham with the lock opening closest to HW. Sailing S to the edge of the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm and then E gave fair tide along the coast to the Looe Channel off Shelsey Bill.

Lured by the good conditions I opted to ‘cut the corner’ and sail over Brake Ledge rather than passing between Street PHB and Boulder SHB in the Looe Channel. Next time I would take the proper route.

Heading NW past Bracklesham Bay to starboard the structure of the West Pole Beacon comes into view ahead. This significant tripod structure, complete with tidal gauge, marks the entrance to Chichester Channel. The channel runs N past Bar Beacon and East Stoke PHB toward Fishery S Cardinal. Once past NW Winner SHB you are through the channel and into Chichester Harbour.

Chichester Harbour is a delightful cruising ground and well worth an extended visit. For this cruise I opted to end at Emsworth Marina. This small friendly marina at the N side of Chichester Harbour has a ramp, clean modern facilities, a restaurant, helpful staff, walking distance to the pleasant town of Emsworth and good road and rail links for recovering trailers at the end of a cruise. Access to the marina is only available HW +/-2hrs.

From Fishery S Cardinal take the N going channel to port of the buoy. This broad well marked channel splits again at Emsworth S Cardinal. This time take the channel to starboard of the beacon passing the moorings in the channel. Through the moorings a further S Cardinal is approached. Again, take the channel to starboard. Leave The Fisherman PHB to port and pass between Fisherman to port and a green SHB which mark the channel up to Emsworth Marina. The channel is then marked by a series of port and starboard buoys as the channel turns E to the narrow marina entrance.

Phoning ahead to book a berth is advised as the office is not open evenings. They will provide berthing directions and access codes to the facilities. The marina can also be contacted during working hours on Ch. 80.

Emsworth has a railway station, a large Co-op supermarket and several pubs. The Coal Exchange on South St, serving good food and sometimes having live music is a good spot for an end of cruise meal and to celebrate a circumnavigation, the short way round.
CC19 Association Member
Posts: 38
Joined: Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Bewdley, Worcestershire

Return to Cruising Areas

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest