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East Anglia Future 50

Chances to see a beautiful river; birdlife and even seals

PUBLISHED: 08:31 14 July 2018

Orwell Lady at Orwell Quay, about to set off on a river cruise. Skipper Carl Webb and director Emma Lightfoot.

Orwell Lady at Orwell Quay, about to set off on a river cruise. Skipper Carl Webb and director Emma Lightfoot.

Archant

It is proving a bumper year for river cruses, from Ipswich Waterfront, on the Orwell Lady and the SB (sailing barge) Victor.

Glorious Ipswich Waterfront, the sailing barge Victor heads out on a river Orwell cruiseGlorious Ipswich Waterfront, the sailing barge Victor heads out on a river Orwell cruise

On Friday there was a good crowd for a cream tea afternoon cruise on the Orwell Lady, setting out from Orwell Quay, and a full house in the evening for the barge Victor’s river cruise.

“On the whole I think it will be another bumper year,” said David `Wes’ Westwood, skipper of the historic sailing barge.

“We have had a very good time recently, with our public cruises running at the maximum.

“Last year was absolutely stunning for us and it has continued this year.

The Orwell Lady at Orwell Quay, about to set off on a river cruise, with skipper Carl WebbThe Orwell Lady at Orwell Quay, about to set off on a river cruise, with skipper Carl Webb

“Overall I think our public cruises will be up, though the private charters might be slightly down on last year.

“The weather has been great. It would be nice if this carried on right to the end of the season.”

Figures have been good to for the Orwell Lady during the great weather, setting out from Orwell Quay.

Director Emma Lightfoot said: “It is going very well. Comparing, year on year, we are up on the same period last year. More people are finding out about us.

“Talking to other people in the tourist trade, and bed-and-breakfasts, it seems very positive. Ipswich is growing in terms of tourism.”

The season had started badly for Orwell Lady, with the death of Emma’s father, Paul Magnus in March.

A successful logistics businessman, Paul had founded the Orwell Lady business as well in 2001, with the former Thames cruiser.

He died after a short illness and the family carried on with the cruising business.

“It was tough for everybody,” explained Emma, “We started the season and we felt the show must go on.

“It has gone well. He had all his systems in place and spreadsheets - and he must have trained us well.”

The Orwell Lady has a variety of public cruises, and private charter trips down the River with the main season running until October.

“We feel it is important to give people the chance to see and enjoy and see the river; they find it interesting and attractive.”

Skipper Carl Webb added: “The river is there for everybody to enjoy.

“Our passengers have seen the peregrine falcons and the seals on the river. It has been really beautiful.

“Yet there are so many people in Ipswich, clueless that the dock is here, and that they can come out on the river.”

This season passengers have included visitors from as far as New Zealand and the USA, who had been staying with relatives locally, he said.

And there are regularly visitors from Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

“Last week we had a coach party from Eastbourne.”

Among the growing popular cruises are trips, including charters, downriver to Shotley for fish and chips and a visit to the HMS Ganges Museum.

Charters will continue throughout the year while the weather is good enough, and there is an annual `ghouls tour’ for Halloween.

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