Mark joined on Saturday afternoon and we set off for
Portsmouth Haslar Marina on the Sunday. At last we had sun, a nice breeze and
tides which meant we could have a leisurely noon departure. This gave us a good
tidal ‘push’ along the coast and for most of the way up the Solent.
This turned out to be a pleasant day with a mix of pure
sailing and motorsailing ; it was certainly good to be able to sail without the
engine for a while. This trip has been plagued with either too much wind (in
harbour), or no wind ( engine). We had a good look at the expensive real estate
of Sandbanks on the way out of harbour, and shortly after had a close encounter
with a high speed ferry making its way into Poole. Then it was a case of
dodging the chain ferry at the entrance and heading towards the Isle of Wight.
We could clearly see the white cliffs around the Needles so navigation was
Since it was fair weather and wind we took the North Channel
into the Solent rather than go the longer way by the Needles. This was fine and
both saved time and gave for an interesting route a few hundred yards off the
beach to Hurst Point and round the corner into the West Solent. The North Channel is basically a narrow strip
of deep water between the beach and a large area of shoals. Sailing friend
Berwyn, aka Jedi Master Mariner, did this for the first time at night in a
Once in the Solent the number of yachts and motor boats
increased dramatically, and the place has more of the feeling of a large lake
than the sea, but a lake with tides and huge commercial ships. Following the
navigation instructions for the area to the letter we kept a listening watch to
the Southampton VTS, which is basically the traffic control for the big ships.
Through this we learnt that several large cruise ships were departing
Southampton and would be entering the top of the Solent just as we got there.
The charts state quite clearly that no small vessel can enter a marked
restricted area at such times, and so we loitered around for a while to let
these monsters through.
It soon became clear
why we had to keep out, when these huge ships suddenly executed a very tight
left turn to go out of the East Solent.
It would have been slightly awkward to find yourself in that bit of
water, thinking you were well clear as the big ship passed, only to have it
turn 90 degrees right at you. As you will see from the pics, these ships do not
hang around...look at the lean on the cruise ship in the middle of its turn. You will also see a small yacht playing
chicken with a cruise ship, with its spinnaker flying; a sure way to find
yourself on the wrong side of the harbour master.
With this excitement over, it was a simple motorsail into
Gosport and the Haslar Marina. A very pleasant and varied trip.