A different view of the coast

Louisa Clifford is one half of Spacemaker Architects and lives near the Kent coast, between Canterbury and Whitstable, in the village of Blean. A keen sailor Louisa writes about her view of Whitstable and the nearby coast from the sea.

Whitstable has become a popular subject to photograph, the beautiful sunsets across the Swale are stunning and the quaint charm of the town and beach are snapped by holidaymakers and professionals alike. It is a perspective we have become used to seeing, whether in our own pictures or others.

I often visit Whitstable because I am a member of the Yacht Club where I sail a small catamaran. Only recently has it become apparent to me that the perspective I have of Whitstable is a little different to others. This came to me when a recent new member, a resident of Whitstable, made it his first priority on joining to sail down the coast and see what his house looked like from the sea! I have the unique advantage of being amongst a few who see Whitstable regularly from a boat. What I enjoy about this perspective is the ability to see the town as a whole and see how all the buildings come together in their unique melee, a bit like a view from a pier. There are so many interesting buildings and they are often photographed from close up, the oyster fishery company is a popular one, but from out at sea I can see how it sits with all the other buildings on the front.CNV00014


From far out I can see the changing pattern of the coastline, a blurry, constantly moving Whitstable rises from Tankerton’s grassy slopes and promenade, past the mouth of the bustling harbour. Then the town with its jumble of buildings on the front, brightly coloured and ramshackled, and the beach huts fading down towards Seasalter before giving over to the flat marshes. All these parts that make Whitstable special together at once.


I also have the advantage of zooming in. Sailing along close to the shoreline I can pick places I want to go and see and this extends all the way up the coast. I once participated in the Isle of Sheppey race which goes around the island and was amazed at how the coastline changes so much in such a small area! The contrast is quite spectacular, the marshes on the south, industry on the west, the towns and beaches of the north and the crumbling cliffs on the east, where pill boxes lay half submerged in the sea, almost out of view from the land! Close up the Sheppey coastline is so different from what I pictured it to be from my Whitstable viewpoint.


My experience of Whitstable from the sea is different too. When racing I am constantly aware of the effect the shape and lay of the town have on the wind patterns. In a south- westerly the wind sweeps and funnels across the golf course. In a southerly the club is sheltered by the harbour creating a safe haven close to the shore for beginners, and in a westerly the wind will bend round the harbour arm. Of all the buildings though the often overlooked grey aggregate building of the harbour is my marker for home, it stands clear from the sea along what can often be a disorientating position!



Unsurprisingly, the Whitstable Lifeboat is one of Louisa’s favourite charities and it can benefit from Spacemaker Architects’ consultation scheme. Book an hour with Louisa and her partner Adam for a £40 donation to 1 of 8 East Kent based organisations doing good things. You choose!

You can also enjoy views of the Kent coast from the historic Thames sailing barge, The Greta , that offers sailing trips from Whitstable harbour.

The Whitstable Regatta on 12-13th July includes a firework display out at sea.

Whitstable Week from 28th July to 1st August offers competitive racing and  friendly social events and takes place at the same time as the Whitstable Oyster Festival (26 July-1st August).

The Whitstable Yacht Club is one of the venues for East Kent Artists Open Houses, part of the Canterbury Festival Fringe.

If you’ve got some images of the Kent coast from the sea we’d love to see them.

Spacemaker Architects sponsor the weekly #createinkent virtual Tweetup and you can follow Louisa and Adam on Twitter @spacemakerarch and find them on Facebook.

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