South Coast Region
- Written by Anton Bates Anton Bates
- Category: Regions Regions
- Published: 04 November 2016 04 November 2016
- Hits: 23285 23285
Coordinator: Tashia Scott
Tel: Mobile: 07713882198
Information coming soon!.
Some Information about South Coast Cruising.
Solent Boating Guide
Where to go and what to do!
BUT...first, Watch out for…
The Solent is an arc of water connected at each end to the English Channel. The result is a double High tide, with a stand between the two peaks. This means that harbours with shallow access benefit from a long high water, improving accessibility.
The downside is that, when the tide goes out, it GOES! On rivers such as the Medina at Cowes and the River Hamble, water flows out very quickly, but very ‘true’. Properly-used, it can help manoeuvring. So, check what is happening to the water when mooring up on Solent rivers.
Bramble Bank and the Thorn Channel
Careless nature has dumped a shingle bank (the Bramble Bank) directly on a line between Cowes and Southampton Water. As a result, all vessels, including vast tankers and huge container ships, must waltz around this shoal, using the deep-water Thorn channel. Such vessels have enough difficulty in doing this without having to contend with pleasure craft meandering into their path. So, large boats have a moving no-entry zone 100m ahead and to each side, which is assertively enforced by harbour patrol boats. Keep well clear!
There is good holding ground in Osborne Bay, Alum Bay, Keyhaven, Colwell Bay etc. But be aware that much of the Solent is environmentally sensitive, and restrictions are already in place or under review. Check up-to-date regulations before casting an anchor overboard!
In future, it should be possible to link entries to the purple dots.‘till then, consult the chart and click the title on the table below to visit relevant web-sites! That's where any writing would be shown too.
Useful local boat services
Visiting the South Coast = some hints
Why bring your Broom boat to the Solent?
The Solent is an historic stretch of water, sheltered from the worst that the UK weather can throw at it by an enchanted Island – the Isle of Wight. That piece of geographical good fortune has resulted in its shores being the long-established birthplace and home of much of the British Navy’s fleet, including King Henry VIII’s prized Mary Rose, that sunk close by Southsea Castle and Nelson’s formidable battle fleet, much of which was built at Bucklers Hard on the Beaulieu and boat yards along the River Hamble. More recently, many Hovercraft and Seaplanes were designed and built on the Medina River, Isle of Wight. And Portsmouth continues to be the home of many of our Navy’s fleet of aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers and other operational craft. Meanwhile, Southampton has long been a centre for vessels serving commercial and cruise-line industries. With that marine history it is unsurprising that, to this day, the range of marine services available to local boaters is stunning. It is sad to reflect that Broom Boats Ltd has never managed to find a base amongst this provision, despite the number of their boats that continue to cruise local waters.
The other almost unique feature of the Solent is the number of inlets and rivers located within a short cruising distance of each other. The mainland hereabouts is backed by the South Downs and the Isle has a limestone ridge along its length. Rainwater falling on these hills drains down to the sea as a series of rivers, such as the Test, Itchen, Hamble, Medina, West Yar, Lymington and Beaulieu Rivers. Where these meet the sea, they lay down soft deltas which enterprising developers have sculpted into marinas and mooring places to serve the leisure boating industry. The result is that almost a score of marinas is accessible within an hour or two’s cruise, no matter what the starting point or the weather. And the character of each location is delightfully different from all the others! Tidal restrictions are only significant for Broom owners when they approach two or three locations, such as Bembridge Harbour, Newtown Creek and (to a lesser extent) the Beaulieu and Lymington rivers. Otherwise, there are only two significant boating hazards – the enormous traffic of heavy commercial vessels (oil tankers, car-carriers, cruise liners, ferries and Naval vessels) that regularly traverse the waters and the notorious Bramble Bank, a patch of shingle between the Isle of Wight and Southampton Water that is exposed at Spring low waters and has caught out many an experienced boater!. There are no bridges to restrict progress for a Broom owner and anchoring is possible in several (popular!) sheltered locations.
So, what better cruising ground could a Broom boater want?
How to bring your Broom boat to the Solent.
Approaching from the East
Broom owners from Eastern, South East and Thames BOC Regions will approach the Solent after a trip of about 120 nautical miles from Ramsgate, all along the South Coast, passing Dover, Dungeness, Sovereign Harbour (Eastbourne), Newhaven, Brighton Marina, Shoreham, Littlehampton and Chichester Harbour. So, there are plenty of bolt-holes if the weather closes in! And even in fine weather, an overnight stay at least one of these locations is worth considering. Each deserves a separate description, as they all have navigational issues to be aware of when locating and entering, and all can offer some interesting boating and culinary experiences.
Cruising inshore along the English Channel, the main hazards (apart from the commercial vessels that pass along some of the busiest shipping lanes anywhere in the world) are the Goodwin Sands off Ramsgate, Rampion Offshore wind farm and the Owers shoals off Selsey Bill. These are all well-marked on charts and should present few problems. Also, check that there is no firing practice taking place at Dungeness Firing Range unless you want to become a target! The sea can be unexpectedly ‘lumpy’ around ports such as Dover, due to large ship movements, but otherwise there is nothing like the Portland Race to contend with!
Approaching the Solent, commercial vessels start to become a major concern. All vessels of any size report in at the Nab Tower to the east of the Island before heading for Portsmouth and Southampton via the eastern entrance. For centuries, large numbers of Naval vessels have been accommodated in the Portsmouth Naval dockyard, so this harbour entrance is guarded by a number of forts, two of which (No Man’s Land and Horse Sand Forts) are Victorian structures standing in the water on either side of the main shipping channel. All large vessels must report by VHF radio to Southampton VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) to confirm that they are ‘Through the Forts’. Clearly, it is important for boaters to listen on VHF Channel 12 to learn about what is on the move in the area, and on Channel 11 to monitor the Queen’s Harbour Master (QHM) that regulates shipping in Portsmouth harbour. And do look out for local ferries, including the high-speed hovercraft that flies across the water between Portsmouth and Ryde – it can appear as if from nowhere!
Sketch map of the Eastern approaches to the Solent
Approaching from the West
Only South West Region members and those travelling back from the Channel Islands or the West country are likely to approach the Solent from the west.
Travelling in this direction, the main navigational hazards are areas of turbulent water created where headlands protrude into the tidal current. The resulting races and overfalls change their position as the tide ebbs and flows. The most notable examples are those at Berry Head, Portland Bill and St Alban’s Ledge. These are all well-charted, and the advice is to keep well clear and skirt them far out to sea or (if you are courageous) to pass very close inshore, where their effects are weaker. There is much advice available in pilot books and online.
The cruising range and speed of many Broom boats, make it possible to complete the journey from Plymouth, Dartmouth or Brixham to the Solent in a single long ‘hop’. But travelling at a more sedate pace across the 40 nautical miles of Lyme Bay from Start Point to Portland Bill will cause many to consider a detour to Weymouth or Portland Marinas, or possibly Poole Harbour, before going on to complete the journey into the Solent.
Approaching from the west, the first sign of the Isle of Wight will be the cliffs standing above the Needles Lighthouse, which in good visibility can be seen as a smudge on the horizon from many miles offshore. There are two routes into the western Solent – the Needles Channel and the North Channel. Each one boasts its own lighthouse! Plan your journey to take account of which entrance you are going to use.
When following the Needles channel (which is presaged by the massive offshore Needles Fairway buoy and is used by a few modestly-sized commercial vessels) be aware that, close to the north lies the Shingles bank, on which numerous small craft have foundered and run aground. While peaceful enough in calm conditions, any swell can cause breaking waves. So, some careful navigation is needed. The channel is well buoyed but can be busy with yachts in summer.
The alternative approach is to head for the North Head buoy close to the mainland shore and then turn eastwards along the North channel, with Hurst castle and light as good landmarks. This is a quieter route, used exclusively by leisure craft and small fishing boats. The only navigational issue is likely to be the Hurst Race. During the ebb tide, water from the Western Solent pours out through the narrow, shallow funnel between Hurst Point and the Isle of Wight. A lot of water and a narrow exit produce fierce currents, resulting in turbulence and breaking waves close to Hurst spit. The North channel skirts this area, but any Broom drifting into it will take it in its stride – indeed, local brokers have been known to use the Race to demonstrate the sea-going qualities of Broom boats. But be aware!
Sketch map of the Western approaches
Once in the Solent there is a choice of Lymington River to port and Yarmouth to starboard. Both of these are safe havens offering all the facilities that a boater needs at the end of a long journey!
Visit our Events page to find out what's been going on, and what's coming up.