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Sailing on the Alde and Ore

This is a description of sailing on the Alde and Ore by someone who is very inexperienced. If you are a visitor to the area then this is perhaps not a bad thing. If you are an old timer on the river then please contact the SSC webmaster to correct any howlers I have made...

Slaughden to Stanny or Martello

The Alde and Ore rivers between them make up a 14 mile long estuary, the top half of which runs almost E-W, whilst the bottom half runs N-S parallel to the coast. This part of the river has been formed and extended southwards by the longshore drift which has carried shingle southwards and taken the mouth of the river along with it. The two halves have very different characters and Slaughden Sailing Club is situated at the centre, ideally placed to sail upstream where the wide shallows teem with birdlife and picturesque riverside scenery or downstream via Orford to the sea.

So, upstream from SSC is Westrow. In summer, this is the busiest part of the river in terms of moored cruisers and tides can reach 6 knots on the bend by the clubhouse. A challenge for those learning to sail... (continue up river)

Downstream is Home Reach, often a choppy, blustery stretch as there is little to protect it from the easterlies coming off the North Sea. This is home to the Aldeburgh Yacht Club, the Martello Tower and the narrow strip of shingle where the North Sea is expected to break through one day. What will become of the river then is a matter of constant debate... (continue down river)

ao3Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.
ao2Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Stanny to Little Japan

From Westrow the river Alde takes a turn to the north around Stanny to Cob Island. This island disappeared in a storm a few years ago and is just a marker pole now. Leave this to port and swing west. The channel runs fairly straight up the centre of the river so you have time to admire the scenery past Brick Dock, Barbers Point and Cliff Plantation (aka "Little Japan" and site of an annual SSC picnic) Of course, in a dinghy at high water, you have the whole area to play in... (continue up river) (back to the clubhouse)

Troublesome Reach to Snape

Long Reach becomes Troublesome Reach and you really have to navigate by the waymarkers, especially in a keelboat. The channel is marked by withies - twigs with red plastic bottles on to port and branched twigs with or without green cans to starboard. Mind the dog leg just after Iken Church - it's easy to miss and you may end up waiting for the rising tide to float you off! At least you can spend the time watching the Avocets, Snipe, Godwits and the rest of the birdlife. Iken Cliff is the finish of the SSC Iken Race and picnic.

Keeping to the channel you can sail as far as Snape Maltings and there can marvel at the London Barge moored on the pilings. No, it's not static - it regularly sails the river (and even brings Father Christmas in December), so there's no excuse for you getting stuck on the mud... (back to the clubhouse)

ao1Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.
ao4Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Martello to Kings Marshes

Blackstakes Reach is an easy sail - depending on the wind and tide, of course - as the river is narrow and deeper here. The black stakes are the remains of jetties from when the river was a busy commercial waterway. Past the radio masts on Orford Ness.. (continue down river) (back to the clubhouse)

Orford

The river becomes the Ore as you sail past the deserted munitions testing site on Orford Ness and round the bend into Orford. Good pubs, restaurants and a castle! And the home of the Lady Florence pleasure cruiser which you will see plying the river in both directions. Just south of Orford the river splits in two around Havergate Island... (continue down river) (back to the clubhouse)

ao5Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.
ao6Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Havergate Island

Either way round the island. The Narrows is narrower - but then it would be, wouldn't it? I've only done this bit in the Lady Florence so someone else can fill in the details! Dove Point on the southern tip of Havergate Island is the location of the famous SSC summer barbeque, not to be missed... (continue down river) (back to the clubhouse)

Orford Haven and the Scary Sea!

And finally down the Ore to Orford Haven where the river meets the longshore drift and the North Sea. This bit is really entertaining. Make sure you have the wherewithal - motor or favourable winds - to get through between the can and cone cardinal marker buoys (only set in the summer months) which show the way through the ever-moving shingle banks. This bit I have only done in my mind whilst standing on the beach at Shingle Street, but one day... (back to the clubhouse)

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Walker 2006

ao7Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.