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Size for Size, The Solent is Tops

You know what it is like: you live somewhere for years but never see how the local features – buildings or natural features – are so special and distinctive. I’d lived in London for years before I visited the Tower of London, and that time was only because some holidaying friends especially wanted to see it!

I wonder if I get too blasé about the Solent and its nearby waters.

I started my 30ft+ sailing in the Solent. The first thing that strikes a new sailor is how attractive it all is. The industrial ports and cityscapes are out of sight inside the narrow Portsmouth Harbour entrance or right up Southampton Water. Even the immense Fawley refinery is now barely visible. Everything is wooded coastline and small beaches and residential towns.

What really sets the Solent apart are the notable tidal effects. For wind-driven vessels, these flows really provide a great challenge for navigators. With buoys all over the place, can there be a better place to practise those skills – intensively?! And with more experience it’s fun to seek out best local tidal effects, even discovering the transient counter currents! The challenge is still relished by most experienced yachtsmen.

Whilst a longstanding south westerly can lead to boisterous conditions to test us, the Solent can also offer fabulous sailing in a breeze from the north or south, where there is no fetch to build the waves as well!

And such a variety of places to spend time for lunch or overnight! Nosing up the Medina for a pub lunch, a cockpit picnic at anchor in Osborne Bay, a calm evening with sundowners in the middle of Newtown River watching the wildlife, a night out in bustling Cowes, Lymington or Yarmouth, or a Swallows and Amazons day in Langstone and Chichester harbours.

And the cream on the cake is that with the Isle of Wight there, one can go out and back without retracing the course – round the island!

Where could be better?!

…….and the Lollipop!

What do you call a sail with only two corners?

I haven’t got a clew!

Don’t blame me! I don’t write them!

Ted Sankey, Commodore         

Commodore@PhoenixYachtClub.co.uk

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