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Brighton Boat Trips: A high speed Seven Sisters Cruise

Seven Sisters Cliffs from the water

I recently set off to see one of my favourite East Sussex landmarks, the iconic Seven Sisters Cliffs. But this time from a new perspective. We saw the cliffs from the water on one of the best Brighton boat trips in the area.

I went out on a thrilling RIB ride with Maverick Boat Adventures to see the breathtaking beauty of Seven Sisters Cliffs and the stunning Sussex coastline from the sea.

All at sea…

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Maverick Boat Adventures

Maverick 3 in Newhaven Marina

It was a cold April Sunday but weather conditions were good because the wind was coming in from the north which meant calm seas. There was sunshine although a chilly wind gusted along the Sussex heritage coast.

Maverick Boat Adventures run Brighton boat trips to the Sussex coast from Newhaven Marina. Newhaven is halfway between Brighton and Eastbourne with Brighton about 9 miles away. We parked up a few minute’s walk to Newhaven Marina West Quay where there’s some free parking. There’s paid parking too on the road located next to the marina. 

We headed over to West Quay where we met Sarah, our qualified skipper, from Maverick Boat Adventures. After a safety briefing (we knew we were in safe hands) and kitted out in our life jackets we boarded Maverick 3. The stunning 28ft Italian Mediterranean Marlin RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) is an absolute beauty!

Our Seven Sisters Cruise

We got settled on the luxury Mediterranean boat. Our group size was 11 guests plus skipper Sarah, the maximum capacity for the boat. There was plenty of space and seats for us all.

We headed out slowly from Newhaven Marina, keeping to the port speed limit. We passed Newhaven lighthouse and Sarah ramped it up as we got out to sea and headed east from the Marina. 

Once on the open sea there are regular stops to take in the views. Our first was just outside the marina where we bobbed while Sarah told us about the landscape, cliff erosion and wildlife found along the south coast. Unlike other Brighton boat trips you learn loads about what you’re seeing. Sarah was a mine of information about the local area.

When the sun peeped out from behind the clouds, the towering Seven Sisters white cliffs and the unique colour of the tuquoise Sussex sea looked absolutely stunning in the sunlight. A nice cloud formation added to the spectacular views. A mini cruise is a great way to see the full beauty of this stretch of coastline which is absolutely breathtaking.

Seven Sisters Cliffs Erosion

Rock fall at Seaford Head cliffs

A large expanse of cliff face at Seaford was pristine white, due to a recent rock fall. A huge mound of chalk boulders was piled on the beach at the foot of the cliffs. 

The famous white cliffs have frequent rock falls. Heavy rainfall soaks into the soft chalk and then freezes when temperatures drop. The water then expands and splits the chalk causing large cracks in the cliffs which lead to erosion. In turn, the pounding waves of the English Channel erode the cliffs from below. Caves at the foot of the cliffs also add to the erosion.

Currently the average rate of erosion is approximately 60cm per year, that’s 6 metres over ten years. Definitely think twice before stepping close to the cliff edge on your Seven Sisters cliff walk.

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Sussex Coast Wildlife

Sarah our Maverick skipper

A little further along the coast we could see Seaford with its backdrop of the South Downs. We watched a colony of kittiwakes as the small, white gulls dipped and dived into the sea before settling back to roost on Splash Point. It’s one of the only remaining colonies of Kittiwakes in the South East. Cormorants can also be spotted right along the south coast.

The Sussex coastline is also home to some amazing marine wildlife including porpoises and dolphins. Sarah explained the difference between the two which are often mistaken. The easiest way to tell them apart is by their beaks (noses).

Dolphin beaks are more pominent and they have bigger mouths, their bodies are sleeker than porpoises which also have more rounded heads. Probably the easiest way to tell the difference is by their dorsal fin – the dolphin fin is more curved than the porpoise’s.

We weren’t lucky enough to see either but Sarah has often seen them on the boat tours. If you’re interested in Sussex dolphins you might want to check out the Sussex Dolphin Project.

Steven the seal is a local wildlife celebrity who also wasn’t keen to say hello. Turns out he spent most of the week relaxing on Seaford Beach.

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Sussex Smugglers

Coastguard cottages at Cuckmere Haven

We pass Seaford Head Coastguard Cottages, which look tiny in the distance, and stop for tales of smuggling, skullduggery and contraband. 

Smuggling along the Sussex coast was rife in the past and has a long history in towns like Shoreham-by-Sea, Brighton, Rottingdean, Alfriston, Hastings and Rye. The beach at Cuckmere Haven was a prime spot for landing contraband.

Sarah regaled us with stories of notorious smuggler John ‘Smoker’ Mills, born in 1730, who ran a successful network of Sussex smugglers. Mills mysteriously disappeared, did he come to a watery end or did he escape capture and lead a charmed life under another name? I think Sarah might actually know…

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Birling Gap and Beachy Head

Beachy Head and its stripy lighthouse

We head on towards Birling Gap where our mini cruise turned out to sea to see if we could spot some porpoises. Like Steven the seal, they remained elusive but we got a good view of Beachy Head Lighthouse and Belle Tout on the top of the cliffs. How long before erosion forces it to retreat once more I wonder?

Back to Base

Maverick Boat Adventures at Seven Sisters Cliffs, East Sussex

After an amazing 1.5 hour trip it was time to head back to port. Sarah turned up the throttle and we had a thrilling high speed powerboat ride skimming across the water accompanied by some great music. A total buzz speeding along with a foaming wake behind us and the backdrop of the beautiful Seven Sisters coastline. 

These powerboat rides are perfect for a special occasion. Two of our group were celebrating birthdays and I can imagine it’d be great experience for group bookings like family pleasure trips or hen groups.

Maverick Boat Adventures also offer other premium boat cruises including a relaxed sunset cruise to Seven Sisters. See Brighton beach from the sea ‘On the Beach’ Brighton boat trip and a Brighton Seabound Adventure will take in the pier and Brighton seafront. All of these will make a great day out. 

If you love an airshow then join a group boat trip to Eastbourne Airshow or even the freedom of a luxury private charter for the airshow.

For the more adventurous there are jet ski safaris, water skiing and wake boarding. Fun-lovers will love the ‘big sofa’ inflatable and in good weather there’s swimming off the boat.

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What to Wear on your Boat Trip

Wrapped up warm for our April boat trip

It gets really chilly at sea so you should definitely wrap up warm and wear layers. We went out towards the end of April and it was cold but even in summer months it can be chilly.

I wore loads of layers including a hat and neck warmer and still felt a little bit chilly at times. There are really thick waterproof throws and some of our small group definitely needed them.

You might want to wear a waterproof jacket to avoid ocean spray or rain. Footwear should be flat rubber-soled shoes like trainers.

In summer don’t forget your sunscreen, hat, flip flops and swimming costumes – if it’s warm enough you can take dip in the sea.

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Seven Sisters close up

I absolutely loved every minute of our Maverick Boat Adventure and would go again in a heartbeat. This is one of the best Brighton boat trips. The boat was fabulous, Sarah was brilliant and everything was really well organised.

Disclaimer: Thank you Maverick for hosting me on this wonderful Seven Sisters Cliffs cruise. All views, opinions and love of an adrenaline fuelled boat trip along the Sussex coastline are entirely my own.

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