The outer harbour is only used for entrance to the marina through double locks, operated 24 hours a day. The outer harbour needs frequent dredging to keep the access channel from sea to the locks open and deep. The local RNLI lifeboat is moored in this outer harbour. But when its berth dries out at low water due to silting the lifeboat can also use one of the locks - in that case that lock is nearly always open from the seaside to offer quick departure of the lifeboat. All the harbours (inner, north, south and west) are artificial harbours and dredged one after the other. Behind the locks is the main marina called inner harbour. This is the central body of water and was the first harbour in use. All other harbours can only be reached via this harbour (via the water that is). In the inner harbour is also the public marina with berths for visiting and permanent berth holders. The other harbours are mainly in use by owners of the many houses and apartments around the waters. The local small fishing vessels use the other harbours and some of the businesses located around the marina use them as well. The North Harbour is the latest development, and this body of water is larger then the initial Inner Harbour. The two remaining harbours West and South are much smaller and in use by local residents owning a house/apartment around these waters. A large boat lift now uses a corner in the North Harbour, near the local chandlery and winter storage for yachts. The locks - for access to and from the sea - and all bridges are all operated from the central harbour office building located next to the locks. The office is manned around the clock - all days of the year. The keep listening watch on VHF channel 17 (and not channel 80 as most marinas in the UK). Apart from operating the locks and bridges the office is also used as information centre for visiting yachts: the staff will provide visiting yachts their berth and collect the harbour fees. Directly adjacent to the locks (and the office) is a fuel pontoon where self-service pumps for diesel and petrol can be found.
Visiting yachts can contact the harbour master via VHF before arrival to obtain information about tides, depths of the dredged channel and other relevant information.
Residential properties are about evenly split between the north and south harbours, with the Waterfront (restaurants, bars, and shops) laying between them. There is some commercial fishing boats in the Sovereign Harbour and the berths are mostly held by residents, and residents local to sussex. Berths can be rented for the night, week or month.
In the last decade of the 20th century Sovereign Harbour was clearly a project in progress but now it starts to be a more-or-less completed project: the local yacht club has a permanent housing, there is a 'waterfront' with shops and restaurants and most large-scale building activities are completed. During the earlier years the marina was more a building site then a leisure location.
The houses in the harbour are 2,3,4,5 and 6 bedroom houses, apartments, flats, and townhouses. It is possible to buy houses with private mooring in one of the harbours and some even provide private and direct access from the property to a private jetty. Development began around the South Harbour and West Harbour but later extended to the land around the North Harbour and the small stretch of land betwee the Inner Harbour and the sea. There are now over 3000 homes in the harbour.
There is also a commercial park directly behind the project with a supermarket, DIY store, large cinema etc. All these large scale shops are built around a huge car-park. Although officially not part of the development it offers visitors and residents much desired shopping options. Especially for visiting yachtsmen (without proper transport) these superstores are handy as Eastbourne city centre is a few miles away.