Sea Plane lands in Littlehampton Harbour

Sunday, 27th July saw a very busy one-day Littlehampton Water Front Festival organised by Littlehampton Harbour Board. This year’s event proved enormously popular with locals and visitors alike.  Much credit must go to Littehampton Harbour Master Billy Johnson and his wonderful team for creating such a carnival atmosphere despite all the ongoing construction works of Littlehampton’s sea defences.

The event which included an open day at Littlehampton’s RNLI with visiting RNLI boats from neighbouring stations; dingy sailing, swimming racing and many other attractions, however the real star of the show as the arrival of a Sea Plane which after a fly over landed to a round of applause in the River Arun.

Littlehampton harbourboard staff

Littlehampton Water Front Festival was compared by Keith Croft a well-known and much-loved master of ceremonies for Littlehampton events. Keith the crowd updated and entertained throughout the day with up-to-the-minute information on what was happening. Above Keith is announcing the arrival of the sea plane.

Littlehampton Sea Plane 2

The Sea plane arrives and touches the water briefly before heading back out again for its final landing approach. The plane, a Cessna C182R is a single engined aircraft which can land both on water and runways. Owned and piloted by Captain John Russell, this plane is a familiar aircraft in the Solent and the Isle of Wight areas.

Littlehampton sea plane

If you look closely at the yacht’s rigging you can see the seaplane coming in to land.


Just about to touch down.


Touching down.


Safely down. Note the trolley like wheels at the front of the floats. Under the floats the landing gear allows this plane to land on traditional runway surfaces as well as water.

Littlehampton Sea plane 6

Harbour staff assist the plane and tow it to the pontoons where everyone could get a closer look.

Littlehampton Waterfront Festival crowds

This year’s event certainly managed to pull the crowds to Littlehampton and everyone I spoke to (or overheard) were loud in their praise for the interesting and enjoyable event this was and much credit again to Billy and the team at Littlehampton Harbour Board for putting on such a great day’s entertainment.

Littlehampton Waterfront Festival crowds 1

Crowds enjoying Littlehampton’s Waterfront Festival

Waterfront Festival view

All the visiting boats were open to the public to have a wander around and see what the inside of a lifeboat looks like and chat to the friendly RNLI crew who were manning the vessels.

Waterfront Festival patrol vessel

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Update on the Littlehampton Ferry.

Littlehampton Ferry

I previously reported that it was doubtful that Littlehampton’s Ferry would be running this year. I understood (wrongly as it turned out..) that this was owing to the lack of suitable pontoon space and landing area. The original pontoon having been removed to facilitate the construction of Littlehampton’s Flood defences.

However, I now have it on good authority that the Environment Agency’s Contractors – VolkerStevin were very concerned to hear that their construction works would potentially hamper the running of Littlehampton’s Ferry. Consequently they’ve now offered to provide a suitable pontoon area and landing area from which the ferry could operate from.

I understand that this offer has been declined.

Full credit must be given to VolkerStevin for coming up with this offer and making every attempt to facilitate the operation of our ferry.

But why isn’t the Littlehampton ferry going to run this year?

My understanding is that the ferry has never actually made any money and was in a loss making situation. No surprises here as the reason the original ferry operation was discontinued is a result of ongoing losses.

Some years ago when I was running the Oyster Pond boating lake on behalf of Arun District Council I looked into re-launching the Littlehampton Ferry. At that time I undertook a feasibility study, which included talking with the previous ferry’s operators – Littlehampton Harbour board and I couldn’t see how the ferry could be made to work without substantial public subsidies.

Whatever the reasons for the non-operation of the Littlehampton ferry, it’s important to clarify that the non-operation is not as a result of the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences. And, every effort has been made by the Environment Agency’s Sea Defence Contractor, VolkerStevin to accommodate it, should it be re-instated.

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Littlehampton’s Action Boat will not be running this Season.

Sad news – No Action Boat for this coming Season.

Action Boat

Earlier this week I caught up with the guys behind Littlehampton’s popular white-knuckle powerboat rides –  Action Boat  They confirm that owing to the Sea Defence works they won’t be able to run their popular rides this season.

Apparently the problems with access to and from the boat are just too great now that Action Boat’s berthing pontoon has been removed while the sea defence works are underway. They are hopeful that they’ll be back again in action in 2015. But this is a big blow for Littlehampton as this was one of our newest and most popular waterside attractions.

And it’s not just Action Boats that will be affected by lack of pontoon space.

One of the biggest problems facing Littlehampton Harbour this year will be the lack of visitor berthing space for visiting boats.

Littlehampton harbour 8

Last year we enjoyed  a bumper season with visiting yachts many of them arriving as part of ‘Rallies’.

These boats and rallies bring a very welcomed spend to our local businesses – restaurants, shops and bars doing exceptionally well. Each year my own bike shop in Pier Road does well with cycle hire with visiting mariners and we also manage to sell a number of bikes to them.

But with the restricted pontoon space, it’s difficult to see how they’ll all fit in.

And, sadly  the future of the Littlehampton Ferry also looks to be in doubt.

Littlehampton Ferry

Latest update I can get on the Littlehampton Ferry is that the boat is up for sale and the previous operator (Action Boats) has confirmed it won’t be running the ferry as part of their operation.

Again even if a buyer is found it’s difficult to see where a suitable embarking and landing pontoon would be found as the original pontoon has now been removed as has the steps leading to it.

No doubt it’s going to be a difficult season for us as we’ve lost these two very popular attractions.

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