Stopping Places: The Solent.

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.

Anchorages = red, Marinas or pontoons = blue
The Solent is mainly a marina based sailing centre plus thousands of private moorings on several rivers, but on calm days you will find boats at anchor all over; but take care, many areas are foul with old and new cables and they crop up all over so be sure to check the chart which will also show some areas where anchoring is explicitly forbidden.

I'll just cover the 3 most useful "official" anchorages and some of the marina's - these days I rarely sail locally except when on-route and don't use many. Most of the marinas have gas available but not fuel which will usually be available from fuel berths somewhere nearby.

Charges in marinas vary from expensive to extortionate so check (often not as easy as it should be) before you turn up on-spec to avoid a nasty surprise. For example in 2023 Hamble Point charges 4.95 per metre for boats up to 12.6 metres and then £6.25 up to 18m excluding electricity so a 9 metre (c30ft) boat would be £44.55 per night and a 13 m (c43 ft) boat £81.25. Yarmouth is cheaper, a 9 metre boat costing £33.50 on a walk ashore pontoon. They all still get very busy in season so phone ahead.

If going into Portsmouth be sure to read up on the mandatory small boat channel, military exclusion areas and reporting requirements (e.g. you need permission from KHM (King's Harbour Master) to cross the main channel close to the entrance), information on the small boat channel can be found here (opens in new window), with links to LNTM's etc. Be aware that as a Royal Dockyard breaking the rules can and has result in criminal prosecution. Monitor channel 11 within their area and Southampton VTS on channel 12 in the Solent and Southampton Water.

In the central Solent be sure to read and understand the rules for the Thorn Channel Precautionary Area and don't end up on Bramble bank as many do every year!

Bembridge anchorage  

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.

Portsmouth Marina's

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 self service fuel berth on an outer 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.

Osbourne Bay

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.

Update March 2024. A voluntary no anchor zone has been established in Osbourne Bay, at the time of writing it is not particularly restrictive, especially for keel boats but check it out here: 2443 VOLUNTARY NO ANCHOR ZONE OSBORNE BAY IOW | Royal Navy ( (link may not work in 2025 and beyond).

No anchor zone as at 22nd March 2024.

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 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 it is a pleasant spot often used for sailing club rallies. Ring ahead! Visited in 2022.

Hamble River

Like the Medina river, Hamble can get very busy, there are at least 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), 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 number of berths on mid river pontoons and a few walk ashore but you may 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 it is easy to get too, has a big chandlery and most boat services.

Fuel is available at Port Hamble 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. There is a 6 knot speed limit (STW) enforced with patrols, TV and speed cameras.

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.


Tucked in behind Hurst point this anchorage is sheltered from the prevailing winds and out of the worst of the tide. It is a useful stopping off point to wait for the tide when heading south or west or, if coming into the Solent and you just sneak through Hurst narrows on the last of the flood and don't fancy battling the tide up the Solent. Check the depth in the swinging area, especially at springs, but there is usually room for a good number of boats of moderate draft. Holding appears to be good. Can get uncomfortable with an easterly wind when the tide holds you at right angles to the chop. Vodafone and O2 signals OK.

Update Feb 2023:

Over the last couple of months a new spit / sandbank has formed, I suspect due to work to stabilise the repaired part of Hurst Castle that collapsed  2 or 3 years ago. I guess there is still space to anchor inside but the depth of water is currently unknown, I'll probably find out in a month or so. I suspect a lot of people are going to get caught out here - as of 26th Feb no Notice to Mariners, local or national, has been issued.

Update Sept 2023:

I stopped off there west bound in August, inside of the new bank there is perhaps slightly more water than charted and more tide than previously but still a good anchorage.

Video by Nick Boxall on U-Tube
The new bank showing in August 2023 close to neaps.

Anchorages, marinas and harbours:

No comments:

Post a Comment