trip logs

Felixstowe by night

Thu 25th April 2014 (part 2)

Aimee and I had been joined by Jeff, my father-in-law for an evening passage from the Felixstowe Ferry at the mouth of the Deben, back to Suffolk Yacht Harbour on the Orwell.

My aim was to wait until HW, when it would be almost dark, but I decided I just wanted to get on with it! So, we ended up motoring against 2kt or more of tidal stream between the large shingle banks, out to the “Woodbridge Haven” safe water mark. I was hoping for a reach down the coast, but it turned out to be a dead run, so we sailed on main sail only in a very light wind, helped by about 1kt of tide. We saw several large ships and had the strange experience of seeing a huge container ship leave Felixstowe docks and five minutes later receive a bow wave almost 2ft high on the otherwise flat calm sea.


It was a beautiful evening and we enjoyed watching the sky darkening and the sea reflecting the colours in the sky. It was a very peaceful sail and it tried to rely on the marker buoys rather than the GPS to navigate. However, when I did compare, it was clear that several port/starboard channel markers are not where the chart plots them.

As we approached the harbour mouth, we saw the pilot boat go out; this meant that a ship was expected, although we could see nothing (we were keeping a sharp eye out for lights!). Passing through the channel, we turned in along the South side and hardened up for an enjoyable 3-sail fetch into the harbour. It was clear that we would have to beat all the way through the harbour if we were to sail up river and on the port tack we were actually being taken backwards by the tide.

Henry Honda had already done a lot of work today, and was pressed into service again. Felixstowe docks looked very impressive by night and we saw the large ship arrive (behind us, fortunately); it really is a 24/7 operation, with strings of lorries delivering and collecting containers to and from the ships.

The entry into Suffolk Yacht Harbour was uneventful, though as the channel is unlit, it would not have been easy to find if I had not done it a number of times in daylight. Many hands make light work, and we were soon tied up and off for a nightcap and cosy beds ashore…

Distance 11.4nm; average speed 3kts



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