Royal Sovereign Lighthouse trip – Battleaxe bounces out to sea

It was my birthday on Saturday, and for my treat, Philosopher booked a boat trip from Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne, out to see the Royal Sovereign Light Tower
    I’ve always been curious about the strange little shape sticking up out of the sea. It’s visible from so many places in Hastings. I can’t quite see it from my window, the view does not stretch far enough west.
    We started off with lunch at Pablo’s at the Waterfront – had only ever been to Simply Italian before, but when we took our grand daughter there last year she was so badly behaved that we did not dare go back. Anyway, our salads at Pablo’s were excellent. Battleaxe would recommend.

Pablo’s at Sovereign Harbour

    The waiter laughed when we told him where we were going and said: ‘Lunch before a powerboat trip? That’ll be alright for us – you’ll be wanting a second lunch when you come back!’
    We didn’t think so – it was a fabulous sunny day, the sea was calm, and unusually for this summer, there was no wind. They cancel the trips when it is rough. The Light Tower is six miles from the shore, far enough to get very choppy indeed.
     While waiting to board the boat, we watched huge fish begging for bread along the water’s edge. Apparently they are grey mullet, and not appetising for people, but many cormorants were watching, beady-eyed, from the rooftops.

Huge grey mullet
Our boat awaits….

     The boat was a semi-inflatable RHIB – like the Hastings blow-up life boat. Apparently it has a top speed of 60mph, but even at its usual 25mph it uses a gallon of petrol every minute. It takes twelve passengers and two crew. We all put on clammy waterproofs with life jackets over the top, and stowed ourselves aboard.
     When you leave Sovereign Harbour you have to get out of the marina into the sea through one of two giant locks. Hanging around before getting into into the lock, then sitting waiting for the water level to drop etc. reminded me why messing about in boats has never appealed to Battleaxe. I just don’t have the patience for all that faffing, messing with bits of rope, fiddling with fenders (I think those are the things that go over the side to stop the boat bumping other boats?)
     Eventually, the lock gates creaked open with infinite slowness, and we were out. Two seals basking on a sandbank. I made a note to photograph them when we came back, but of course the tide had risen by then, and they had disappeared.
     Our boat set off briskly, straight out towards the tower. Despite the calmness of the sea, you had authentic powerboat bouncing from wave to wave, or ‘pumba pumba pumba’ as Philosopher so eloquently described it. You can’t see a lot, because the front of the boat rises up, and spray obscures the side view, but we arrived at the tower quick enough. Built to replace a light vessel in 1971, it had a very retro look about it. It was manned until 1994. Apparently the light only has a 35 watt bulb, but is visible 12 nautical miles away. The lighthouse is solar powered.

Spray… with Beachy Head and its lighthouse in the distance
The Sovereign Light tower comes into view

     We circled slowly round the tower several times, and went up close underneath it. The sea boiled and surged impressively.  It looked a very hard and risky job to clamber up the iron ladder to the little door at the base of the platform – no way could we do that. Apparently they can have 10 metre waves out there.

Sea boiling about the place

     It was better sailing home because you could look at the land. Hastings was just a mass of undifferentiated little buildings at the far edge of visibility.
     Back into the lock again, repeated the faffing with boat paraphernalia.  A bloke on a sport fishing charter boat held up various huge fishes they had caught, for us to see. I felt sorry for the fish.

Back into the lock
Waiting in the lock
Poor fish

     Why are so many people so keen on hunting/catching/hooking/trapping/shooting harmless creatures, both in the water and out of it?  It is one thing catching fish for food – and even that can get excessive, but why would you want to do it for sport?
      The trip was enjoyable, something you aren’t going to do every day!
      STOP PRESS – I got a really lovely comment on my last post from someone called +Sandra Jones but could not reply to it. Thanks, Sandra, if you are reading this, and please do whatever you have to do so I can reply to your comments!


  1. Mike Cope
    July 20, 2020 / 2:13 pm

    Neighbours & me would like to obtain good-quality Colour Prints of Sovereign Light Platform ~ before it’s removed. Where can we Purchase them, please?

    • July 21, 2020 / 8:06 am

      Hello, the only photos I have are the ones that appear on the blog post – you are welcome to use those. I don’t know wwhere you could get others.

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