Our history

The Vision

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 Original marshland
 End of Phase 1
It was the vision of Michael Spear that has turned the dream of Suffolk Yacht Harbour into a reality. On a cold morning in 1961 he grabbed an opportunity that was to bring him - and many others - 12 years of hard labour. A chartered surveyor, Mike was carrying out a probate valuation on 60 acres of flooded marshland on the north bank of the Orwell - part of a 1,000 acre estate belonging to Charles Stennett. As the two men wondered how to put a value on the apparently useless land, the vision of a yacht harbour with pontoon moorings, accessible repair facilities and a clubhouse began to form.

Phases 1-3 1967-1973

In partnership with local boatbuilder Eric Wright, Spear and Stennett in conjunction with John Adams,who prepared the planning application finally attained the consent they needed for a simple, 12 acre facility and in 1967 Suffolk Yacht Harbour Ltd was formed with total capital of £60,000. Three years of incredible 'hands on' labour later, the first 40 berths were ready - and all instantly booked. Phases 2 and 3 followed with the help of outside contract dredgers and by 1973, half a million tonnes of mud had been removed and 170 berths created.

Phase 4-5 1973 - 1975

More steel piling was added to the east in the 1972/3 season with new contractors who proved very unsatisfactory and set the project seriously back on schedule and on budget. They eventually left the site early in 1974. New help was engaged and although the planned pontoon completion for the 1974 season was missed, total berths had increased to 300 in time for 1975. The Lightship, the redundant Mid Barrow Lightvessel No 87 was acquired in 1975 as a permanent clubhouse for the newly formed Haven Ports Yacht Club and by 1976, membership had reached 250. A permanent steel frame boat store and workshop had also been added in 1975.

Phase 6 1976 - 1993

This period saw the consolidation of all the original plans and aspirations of Michael Spear and Charles Stennett. Full maintenance and repair facilities were completed as well as an extensive chandlery, mini-market, shower and toilet block and ample car parking. Berths finally reached the original target level of 500. And by 1993, Suffolk Yacht Harbour was receiving 2,500 visiting yachtsmen a year.

Phase 7 1993 - 2002

This 10 year period saw huge improvements to standards and facilities throughout the site: more hardstanding, more 16 amp metered power supplies, continuous pontoon upgrade and replacements, more shower blocks and the new decked 'promenade' for visitors to watch the comings and goings of the marina.

Phase 8 2002 - 2005

2002-2005 saw the last major earthworks at Suffolk Yacht Harbour with the major expansion of the West Harbour and the creation of 50 new deepwater moorings. The work has entailed major dredging, piling, landscaping and fitting out with the latest pontoons and ancillaries - as well as the building of a substantial new toilet/shower and laundry block.

Phase 9 2005 - 2011

In April 2011, TV presenter Griff Rhys Jones opened the Harbour Centre at SYH. The Harbour Centre is the focal point of the marina and houses all the offices, SYH chandlery and Classic Marine. 2006 saw the build of the Harbour Room to provide a modern, fully-licensed, waterside event room for SYH and external events from parties, to regatta briefings and meetings.