Be sure to check out Reeds and / or the appropriate pilots for more detailed information and alternates, this is just an overview of likely candidates, but I have been to all of them.
To see all visits to each anchorage check out the "Labels" the panel to the right.
Updated to include Harbours and Marinas also some info on fuel & gas availability, I would not have checked at many locations. Also some info on phone services.
Is useful leaving to or arriving from the east in light westerly winds but can be exposed to surge, make sure you are in the right place and remember that the conveniently situated Bembridge lifeboat is forever rescuing yachts and motor boats from Bembridge ledge and adjacent areas. Many will prefer to use one of the three marinas just inside Portsmouth Harbour.
See above re rules to enter. Tides run very strongly past Fort Blockhouse and standing waves and rough water can occur from there too the Swashway or beyond especially wind against the ebb. Take care to check the depth and the small boat channel rules if using the Inner Swashway. Look out for ferries and hovercraft.
Hasler is the easiest and largest (I berthed there for 18 months before the cost drove me out), Gosport Marina (many years ago Camper and Nicholson's aka Camper's) is marginally more convenient for the town but a bit trickier to get into. Royal Clarence is small and I have not been in. Port Solent is quite a distance and requires locking through. All of the above have all normal facilities and places to eat.
There is a fuel berth at Gosport Marina but it is very exposed to wash from passing boats so care and a lot of fenders are needed. I haven't been there for a while but I suspect fuel will be expensive.
Is a very popular anchorage for lunch and can get very busy when the weather is good but it usually gets quieter overnight although jet skies can be an annoyance until dark. The anchorage is sheltered from winds with south in them and has good holding but is subject to wake from shipping and is quite shallow, especially at springs, its fairly flat but do a circuit of the swinging area and reduce to soundings. When arriving in the Solent overnight or late in the evening on an ebb tide I sometimes go here for a nights sleep before going onto my trot mooring on the Hamble which, single handed, I need to have slack-ish water on the flood. Vodafone and O2 signals OK.
Cowes and the Medina River
Several expensive marinas that get very crowded, I have not used any of them in donkeys years. The entrance is usually very busy with pleasure boats mixing it with ferries and dinghies. A bit further up look out for the chain ferry - if it is actually working.
Avoid Cowes Week and some other major events unless competing, years ago we rafted up c10 deep which was quite hairy, I don't think that is allowed these days.
The Folly Inn manages a couple of long mid river pontoons (and a water taxi) a couple of miles up river, it gets very busy at times so you could be rafted up, but is a pleasant spot often used for sailing club rallies. Ring ahead! Visited in 2022.
Hamble can get very busy, there are about 3,200 boats moored on the river and sometimes is seems that a good proportion want to leave or arrive at the same time and then show how fast their motor boats will go (the majority stopped are motor boats, I suspect big ones), the latest (2023) Harbour Masters safety newsletter might be worth a read on this and other points to consider (opens in a new window).
No anchoring allowed. The Harbour master (Ch 68) has a limited number of berths but often you will need to find a place at one of the larger marina's, Hamble Point and Port Hamble are within a mile of the entrance, Mercury and Universal are a couple of miles and Swanwick (ex Moodies) and Deacon's are about three miles.
Deacon's used to be a traditional yard with a small marina but is now becoming rather homogenised, they do have a few visitors berths but I would avoid, they are cross tide and you might not get off on the flood or on during the ebb whilst the finger berths are quite tight and not accessible by most sailing boats for extended periods due to the very strong tides, one reason I left some months after acquiring Sancerre, although I do haul out there as the have a big chandlery and most boat services.
Fuel is available at Port Hamble and and Swanwick. The last time I checked red diesel at Port Hamble was more expensive than white diesel from Tesco's so I fuel by porterage which is less hassle if arriving by car but not practical if visiting by boat.
The tide runs strongly, many boats will make very limited progress against the Spring ebb when standing waves will occur in places, including by my mooring - but it does not last for as long as you might think. TV and speed cameras operate on the river.
|A spring tide on the Hamble, this is from the Admiralty's "Total|
Tide", some apps will not show the subtilties of the new flood
stand and the high water stand which sometimes has a distinct
incoming second tide rather than a stand.
Take care on dark nights, the channel has lit buoys and piles but the channel (between moored boats) is narrow and in places, particularly on the eastern bank between Hamble Point Quay and the RSYC pontoons, boats on trot moorings may be on the channel side of the direct line between lights, also marinas have the ends of all pontoons lit, 2 vertical red or green; it can be difficult to see which mark is nearest.