Warning to yachts at Felixstowe

YACHTSMAN brave enough to sail in the freezing cold weather have been warned not to get caught out in the shifting shingle banks in the River Deben.The bar at the entrance of the river shifts every year, but John White, harbour master, said that the shift has been extreme this year and the channel in to the river has moved the furthest south ever.

YACHTSMAN brave enough to sail in the freezing cold weather have been warned not to get caught out in the shifting shingle banks in the River Deben.

The bar at the entrance of the river shifts every year, but John White, harbour master, said that the shift has been extreme this year and the channel in to the river has moved the furthest south ever.

"It's an ongoing problem that happens all the while, the channel is moving all the time, the problem is the bar of the channel is always shifting and buoys become in the wrong position, that happens every year.

"It's quite extreme at the moment, the old channel is furthest south than it has ever been before, there's a new channel breaking to the east," said Mr White.


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Shingle naturally drifts from north to south and when the shingle has to get past the mouth of rivers like the River Deben, between Bawdsey and Felixstowe Ferry, the tide running in and out diverts the shingle and creates a channel.

A survey of the shifting bank at the entrance of the river has recently been carried out and the findings could result in buoys being moved to a new position.

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"I think after this year it will revert to a more northerly channel, it's a sort of cycle that tends to work over 15 to 30 years," said Mr White.

The ever-changing sand and shingle banks at the entrance of the River Deben caught many sailors out last year, and the sight of a stranded boat waiting for the high tide was common. The rescue services dealt with a record number of incidents last year and on one occasion, five vessels were aground at the same time.

The most memorable vessel which ran aground was a 70ft boat, the stranded crew had to be treated for mild hypothermia and minor hand injuries.

"This time of year there is very few people using the river - only the local anglers and fisherman. A couple of anglers got stuck there - they were there for two or three hours."

"Fisherman know the new channel. They're using it all the time," however he said that if anybody needed any advice on the shifting channels they could contact him on 01394 270106.

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