Dinghy Cruising Notes

Cruising notes for our dinghy cruises. These are very good daysails.

Lymington to Bucklers Hard

Lymington to Alum Bay

Lymington to Newton Creek (New Inn, Shalfleet or meet with the Yacht Cruisers)

Seafarers to Lepe

Seafarers to Ashlett Creek (The Jolly Sailor PH)

Seafarers to Hamble River (The Jolly Sailor PH)

Gilkicker Point to Portchester SC

Stokes Bay (Diving Bell Museum) to Ryde

Stokes Bay (Diving Bell Museum) to Seaview (The Boathouse PH)

Stokes Bay (Diving Bell Museum) to Bembridge (Bembridge SC or Baywatch Cafe)

Stokes Bay to Wootton Creek (Royal Victoria YC)

Stokes Bay to Osborne Bay (meet with the Yacht Cruisers)

Tudor SC to Bembridge

Stokes Bay (Diving Bell Museum) to Whitecliffe Bay (Cafe)

Stokes Bay (Diving Bell Museum) to Southsea

Itchenor to Dell Quay (Dell Quay SC / Crown & Anchor PH)

Itchenor to East Head / Hayling Island (HISC)

Round Hayling Island (variety of launch points)

Technical Articles

Solent and English Channel Tides

Ten Solent Passages by Cliff Martin of the DCA Solent and reproduced here with permission.


Solent tides are complicated and sometimes enough to make a saint swear. Longer passages tend to either be fast or go wrong and become very time consuming and exhausting. Getting out of harbour during the late flood is often impossible. Getting into harbour during the ebb may be impossible or dangerous.

There is no cast iron guarantee with these passage suggestions but I have used them in the past to good effect and they generally work out. When planning, double check with a tidal stream atlas and remember when beating you might only manage 1.5 knots even in good conditions. With a fair tide of 1 knot this equates to 15 miles over a 6 hour period. With a foul tide of 1 knot you’ll only get 3 miles in the same time.


1 Chichester to Central or Western Solent

2 Warsash to Eling

3 Eling to Warsash

4 Warsash to Western Solent

5 Newport/Cowes heading East

6 Chichester to Bembridge

7 Bembridge to Chichester

8 Newtown to Chichester

9 Newtown to Warsash

10 Around Hayling from Cobnor

1 Chichester to central or western Solent

Leave 5 hours before high water. As you get out over the bar the tide will still be flowing east but will soon turn in your favour. Sail out at least as far as the Bar Beacon.  Head west. Keep towards the mainland shore for the best tide. Cross over at Gilkicker Point if going to Cowes or the western Solent. Tide runs fair for 8 hours

2 Warsash to Eling

Getting out of the Hamble in good time is critical to this passage which is otherwise straight forward. Leave Warsash 4.5 hours before high water. Sail out of the Hamble. The spit dries but you don’t have to go as far as the big cardinal on the shipping channel (check chart and tidal height). Enter Southampton Water and sail up to Eling. 

3 Eling to Warsash.

It’s about 8 miles down river to Hamble spit. In a reasonable wind with a fair tide this will only take a couple of hours but in a weak SE wind might take three or more. You need to be at Hamble spit at or before low water. In a fair wind it’s usually possible to blow back up the Hamble against the ebb, otherwise you might have to anchor and wait. Do not dry out! Sail up the Hamble to Warsash. The hard is available at low water springs

4 Warsash to western Solent

Leave Warsash 5 hours before high water. Sail out of the Hamble and cross over to Calshot. Sail around Calshot Spit. Head west keeping close inshore as far as Lepe spit. which dries but by the time you get there should have covered. Tide turns fair I hour before high water and runs for 6 hours.


Leave Warsash at high water, sail out of the Hamble, down Southampton Water and into the Western Solent. Tide runs fair for 5 hours. Tide will be ebbing when you reach the next harbour. Walking the boat into Newtown against the tide is possible, use the western edge of the entrance. Tidal streams in and out of Lymington are usually weak and can be sailed against.

5 Newport/Cowes heading East

Leave Newport 3 hours after high water. Sail out of eastern entrance of Cowes Harbour. Tide turns fair 5 hours after high water. If you are early, anchor over Shrape Mud. At (or before) the turn of the tide sail out into the Solent across to Gilkicker Point and head east. The tide will only run fair for about 4 hours and in light weather may turn before you reach Chichester. Entering Langstone or Portsmouth should be easy as the tide will be flooding. For Chichester you have two choices. Either through Langstone Harbour and under the bridge or through Chichester Harbour entrance. The tide continues to flood into the harbours until high water. After high water it ebbs slowly for 2 hours. After this the ebb sets in hard. The tide in the channel north of Hayling Island is usually the same direction as Hayling Bay. This channel dries on spring tides.

6 Chichester to Bembridge

A slightly tricky one this, as you often can’t get out of Chichester until high water and the tide turns off Bembridge Harbour entrance 3 hours later. In reality you’ve got 4 hours to make an 8 mile crossing mostly with a fair tide before it gets really awkward but the harbour entrance dries on a big spring and no one goes in or out within an hour and a half or so of low water. There is very often a calm area about a mile off Bembridge. This includes the shipping channel and sailing across may not be possible. The big ships move fast and can’t stop but can and will (normally) alter course to avoid other boats. Large ships bound for or out of Southampton will carry a local pilot who is familiar with these waters and the leisure boats which use them. It’s a good idea to leave a sail hoisted while crossing so ships can see you from a distance. Once the ship is within about half a mile they may not be able to see you at all. 

7 Bembridge to Chichester

Another tricky one. The tide runs fair over low water. See Chichester to Bembridge for extra information

Leave about 4 hours after high water making sure you don’t dry out in the harbour approach. Sail to Chichester with a fair tide. Enter Chichester with a fair tide.


Leave Bembridge as early on the flood as you can get out. The tide will initially be fair but will turn foul part way across and attempt to sweep you west. Keep as far east as possible. If it’s a very slow crossing you may not be able to get to Chichester until the ebb has set in and you might have to wait until low water. If you can’t point Chichester then going into Langstone and under the bridge is an option. 

8 Newtown to Chichester.

A very common error with this passage is to dry out at Shalfleet and be unable to leave on time. If necessary move the boat before hand into deeper water.

Leave 1 hour before low water. The tide going up to Chichester will only run fair for four hours so it’s important to make sure either you’ve a reliable fair wind or go for a stopping off point. Wootton Creek is the obvious place and you’re going to be stuck there for 6 hours over high water. If you leave Wootton early with a fair wind and head for Chichester or Langstone it will most likely still be ebbing when you get there. If the wind is from the south and any more than a force 3 the entrance will most likely be choppy or dangerous. If it doesn’t look good heave to and wait. Enter Chichester with a fair tide

9 Newtown to Warsash

As above but enter Southampton Water and sail up to Warsash. Tide runs fair for 7 hours then stands for a further two

10 Around Hayling from Cobnor


Leave Cobnor 2 hours before low water. Sail out at least as far as the bar beacon. The water will be very thin. Head west. The tide will be against you but not excessively strong. Be aware how far out the east Winner extends outside Langstone harbour. Enter the harbour. It’s OK to cut through the moorings inside the entrance but regain the channel as soon as possible. Follow the channel up to the bridge. Note the red and green marks on the bridge to show the best water. Beyond the bridge the water will either be very thin or the tide against you. You’ll be fighting the tide all the way down the Emsworth channel but don’t cut across Pilsey Sands until you have reached the moorings. Follow the racing marks across Pilsey Sands. Regain the Chichester Channel and sail up to Cobnor with a fair tide.

Anti clockwise

Leave Cobnor at high water or a little before (the tide may still be flooding). Sail down the Chichester Channel, across Pilsey Sands, into the Emsworth Channel (where the tide may be against you) and along Sware deep. At some point along the north of Hayling Island you will probably lose the tide which will run fast under the bridge once it gets going. The top of Langstone harbour can be slow but once you approach the dredged channel the tide will turn in your favour. Sail down and out of Langstone harbour. (Don’t attempt this in a southerly wind of more than F4) Sail out beyond the east Winner and cross Hayling Bay. It will now be near low tide so beware of thin water. It’s normally OK so long as you leave the bar beacon to port. Tide turns in Chichester entrance about 5.5 hours after high water. Follow the marked channel up to Cobnor.


From Ged in CodySC

Lymington to the Medina including an overnight stay. 

Pick a day when the low water is about 11am. Leave Lymington an hour before low water, taking the last of the ebb tide out of Lymington, to aim to be at the tide direction change at the LTSC Starting Platform. Sail to Cowes entrance on the fair tide, take all day, stop for lunch somewhere, be at the Cowes entrance no later than 16:30. Make your way on the flood to the upper reaches of the Medina. For the return passage, leave in the morning at high tide, taking the ebb down the Medina, out into the Solent and get to Lymington before the ebb starts, which is about noon the next day. 

Recent Posts

Chichester Harbour Summer 2021

Cobnor Summer Camp

This year we held a long weekend summer Cobnor camp and were fortunate to have excellent sunny weather. Thirteen families turned up and enjoyed sailing, paddle boarding and kayaking. The evenings were spend in sunshine chatting and barbequing. A diary of this long weekend is given below.

Wednesday June 10th

08:30 and Sarah Louise and Steve arrived, got Sarah’s Trio rigged and launched into a rising tide and the barest wisps of wind in blue skies and full sun. The drive down had been foggy, the IOW was obscured by fog, and yet just along the strip of coast the sun blazed down. We took 90 minutes of sneaky shallows sailing to make Chalkdock against the flood, and with an hour to go turned for Dell Quay. The SW F1-2 became a southerly F2-3 along the Itchenor reach and we then broad reached to the pub.

The pub required us to sit down and be served, and so we sat on an outdoor sofa which overlooked the water. We had a lovely chat with two canoe paddlers who were randomly assigned the sofa next to us. I’d say more salty than all of us; several transatlantic crossings in a Contessa32, and many salty adventures around the Bahamas.

Soon after the tide turned, we began the beat home in a F2-3, reached the Itchenor channel, and met Adri and Anna coming back from Bosham, where we returned to, took in Ice Creams and headed home in a sporty F4 for a bit of camping. Ginny and Phil arrived and camped.

Thursday June 11th

The plan was for Dell Quay for lunch and Bosham for afternoon ice cream, a tried and trusted crowd pleaser.

The plan unfolded as expected, we were in no hurry to launch as the overcast skies would lead to no sea breeze and the forecast was for more wind in the afternoon. Ginny in her Scow, John and Phil in Phil’s Versa, Anna and Adri in the club Versa and Sarah-Louise and Steve in Sarah’s Trio left the hard at 10:30, headed up-tide and got to Park (beyond Roman Transit) before turning at 11:10 for Dell Quay. We were making a good headway and were about 90 minutes off East Head as we continued onwards.

The broad reach, reach and run saw the fleet at the pub at about 12:15, and we got adjacent outdoor tables where beer, chips and cheesy chips were enjoyed before repairing to the beach for our sandwiches.

The ebb spurred us to action, the beat was good with the tide beneath us, the reach gusty, the run to Bosham slightly eventful. A patch of weed tripped the rudder on the Trio, and we gybed into a broach; fortunately, nothing was there to broach into.

The ice creams at Bosham were good. While I was holding all the boats I was interrogated by a Conservancy Officer regarding a lack of Conservancy stickers, and fortunately we had all phoned in and got a 5-day permit (for which no sticker is issued). Also note that BSC charge if you land on their slipway, but I was holding the boats while still in the water so apparently that does not count. (Also note that even if you have a conservancy sticker, it’s a further £7 per day to launch a dinghy from Itchenor).

The return to Cobnor was a challenging beat with the raging ebb, we reefed just to make it more handleable.

And now the sun has finally come out.

Friday June 12th

Overnight, Ged, Archie and Lisbeth arrived.

The crew were Steve and Lisbeth, Sarah and Ginny in Trios, Phil and John, Anna and Adri in Versas and Ged and Archie in the Storm17.

We launched at 10am into a SW F3 overcast and drizzling, and beat against the flooding tide to East Head where we stopped briefly at 11:15.

The journey to Mengeham Rythe crossed the incoming flood, and then we were carried by it and through the first moorings. It gets tight on the way to My Lord’s Pond, with boats in bow to stern trots and a dead end to avoid. All made it handsomely on the beat there, many tight tacks, and we settled in the now bright sunshine on the North shore for an hour of siesta, lunch and snoozing.

The start of the ebb jolted us into action, and we made our way out which was much easier on the broad reach and run. When we made North of HISC the VHF came alive with a hail from Cody members who have a yacht; Jenny and Roy had sailed to East Head on a whim, so we sailed over and said hello.

We stopped to regroup on Pilsey, passing the deep water Port Hand post the correct side, and just for fun sailed to “Star” racing mark before turning home. Ginny had her racing head on, and Sarah’s Trio was uncatchable. Some had interesting gybes on the way home, some sat majestically running dead downwind without a care in the world, upon cushions.

We arrived home about 1530.

Saturday Sailing

The fleet set off at about 11am after investing some time in working out the club Versa spinnaker.

Mel and Anna, Martin and Ben, Phil and Lisbeth in Versas, Edmund and Isabelle in their Trio, Ged and Archie in the Storm17 and Stephen and Jackie paddled canoes while John took his paddle board. Adri went for a walk, as did Andrea.

Wind was light and variable until Birdham Pool when the sea breeze set in. The sailing was good. The tide was still flooding, so the fleet was anchored. Dell Quay Sailing Club made us most welcome with legendary scones. The fleet left just after 14:00 into a S F3, which built to a F4 at times. In glorious sunshine we beat through Birdham Pool to a close reach along the channel past Itchenor. Steve and Simon joined the fleet for the Itchenor reach, then carried on to East Head for a play in the bigger winds as we broad reached with the spinnaker up home. Someone, not us, using the slipway was lowering their boat, having neglected attaching it to the trolley and the boat fell off the trolley pinning someone between the boat and the wall. We were fortunately out of the way and no major harm was done but it’s a reminder to keep the boat attached to the trolley.

Thanks to Phil for leading the daysail.

Saturday Paddling

Jackie and Stephen Deakin were in their sleek kayaks and John was on his 5th trip on his new Bluefin Cruise 10.8 (SUP).

The outbound leg was in ideal conditions; with the tidal current and in very light winds. The light winds meant that we took about the same time as the dinghies to reach Dell Quay.
By the time of our return the tide had turned and the sea breeze had set in at about 15kts which made for very different conditions. John decided to sit down on his board using the kayak seat that clips to his board, otherwise standing up would have been torturous. He also made use of the second paddle blade to make a double-ended set.

Overall we recorded a 7 mile round trip. It was only after we returned that Stephen noted Jackie was nearly an Olympic rower, which explains why she left Stephen and John far in her wake at times. Like any hard work it was a slog at times but a good achievement in retrospect.

Even in the windy conditions we made the return journey again in a similar time to the dinghies

Roll on future Cody paddling trips!

Sunday (14th) Paddlers

Phil on his kayak and John with his SUP set off from Cobnor at 0945, just before the slipway closed for the Oppy launching window. They had a very pleasant paddle to Bosham with the tidal current and the wind. Following the well established Cody tradition, they stopped at Bosham for an early ice cream. As the tide still had a way to rise and they didn’t fancy a long mud walk, they decided to chance the Bosham Sailing Club slipway and left their craft on the green.

Ice creams consumed, they returned to the green and were stealthily making their way to the slipway when a Bosham Quay staff member came out of his office to demand a fee (£5 each) for using the slipway. After relaunching they made their way further up the Bosham channel as far as they could go with the water available. As they turned to make their way back to Cobnor the tide was against them and there was a healthy breeze. It was hard going on his feet for John on his SUP, so he tried paddling from his knees. Using just the SUP one- ended paddle still made for slow progress, so he added the second blade. Not expecting a breeze John hadn’t taken his kayak seat for his SUP, so he had to sit back on his feet to paddle.

They made steady progress heading back to Cobnor, arriving about 1145 just as the Oppies were finishing their morning racing. It took John a while to be able to get his legs straight, but it was another valuable SUP journey to put in the experience bank.

Sunday Sailing

The weather on Sunday was light winds but gloriously sunny and hot. Seven Cody boats sailed from Cobnor to Dell quay late morning after a racing fleet of Optimists had launched. We found a bit of wind and it was a beat/reach to the pub

The weather on Sunday was light winds but gloriously sunny and hot. Seven Cody boats sailed from Cobnor to Dell quay late morning after a racing fleet of Optimists had launched. We found we needed to take into account the Open Meeting at Bosham SC where about 20 Mirrors and 35 Optimists were racing, so we left after the race fleets were on the water. Keith and Lois joined us from Itchenor in their Sport 14. Mel and Steve, Rob and Adri, Sarah and Simon and Lisbeth in Trios, Martin and Ben in their Versa and Ged and Archie in their Storm17.

We slightly entangled ourselves in the Optimist fleet, and mostly kept out of the way as the tiny humans battled with surprisingly different levels of ability to round their racing mark near Deep End. The clear blue sky did not lift a convincing sea breeze and we were left with puffs and patches of wind from the South as we took the flood to Dell Quay.

Lunch was taken both at the Pub, at the Sailing Club on their veranda and on the beach under the shade of a foreshore tree.

The return trip was uneventful, the wind dropping to barely allow us over the ebbing tide to Cobnor.
We packed up in a crowded carpark and headed home.

This posting was collectively created by the attendees of the camp.

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