South Coast Cruising Info
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?