At sea along the British coast

You too can sleep in a royal bunk

JIM CRAIGIE

After all those recent TV travelogues extolling the attractions of the British coast, what better way to “do” the coast close-up yourself than on the lighthouse support ship Patricia? This rugged small vessel, based in Harwich, Essex, checks and refuels offshore lighthouses, maintains navigation buoys and deals with any emergencies, including shipwrecks along the English and Welsh coasts.

But it also welcomes aboard up to 12 guests in six double-bedded, ensuite cabins that have housed royalty. Guests have a dedicated chef and stewards, with a lounge and viewing deck so they can see what goes on without getting in the way.

The guest season runs from mid-April to mid-October and you can book for seven or 14 nights. If you’re on your own, a cabin starts at £1700 ($2478) for seven nights; it’s £2990 ($4359) for two travellers. The $A is well up on the pound these days, so that’s a relative bargain for such a special experience.

There’s something of a mystery element as you won’t know the exact itinerary until a week or so before boarding. Even then it may vary according to circumstances. As they say, you may expect to board in Southampton and disembark on the West Coast, but actually join in Whitby and leave in Southampton! There will be limited opportunities to go ashore.

Passenger bookings are handled by Strand Voyages at www.strandtravelltd.co.uk, which also books passengers on container ships and freighters all over the world. Patricia is operated by Trinity House, the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales and the Channel Isles. Launched in 1982, it is the third Patricia. Trinity House maintains 69 lighthouses, all of which have been automated since 1998.

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