Keyhaven 4 Day Camp 2019

Many thanks to Keyhaven YC

Our thanks go to Chris and the management team at Keyhaven YC for organising a place for us to camp, store our boats and have access to the lovely club facilities, the river and the bar. Further thanks must be extended to the current members of the club who all made us very welcome.

Thursday – set up

We occupied the camping field from lunchtime on Thursday and got some boats prepped for sailing. We had a communal chat around a camp fire and planned for some adventure on Friday. The tide was a couple of days short of the top of the Spring tide, and with a F4 Easterly, careful planning with the tidal atlas drew us to the conclusion that we’d need to sail with the tide and against the wind on the way out to be up tide and wind for the return journey.


The only constraint we had is that we either had to leave before or after the 25 boats in the Keyhaven YC Easter Regatta, and given that the start times slipped each day we chose to launch after them on Friday and Saturday, and before them on Sunday and Monday. On Friday we mustered at 09:30 and slipped at 09:45.

The weather was a forecasted F4 from the East and no hint of light airs or no wind. Destination Newtown Creek, with the backup plan that we’d head for the North Shore as soon as the tide changed.

GP14; Mike, Gary
Storm 17; Ged, Anna
Comet Trio; Steve, Mel

We sailed in good wind to the centre of the channel, and as we approached Newtown Creek the wind went very light. Ged and Anna in the Storm 17 and Steve and Mel in the in the Comet Trio immediately headed for the North shore to stay out of the ebb, but Mike and Gary had become detached from the fleet, unreachably upwind, and did not immediately head North. Without wind, a motor, and with ineffective oars the GP was swept towards the narrows at Hurst point, and while we maintained visual contact at all times there was little we could do. The Storm and Trio made it to the North Shore adjacent to Oxey Lake (we were swept further West than Lymington).

Since it’s best to raise a concern with the Coastguard early, we had been in communication with them, fearing that Mike and Gary may be swept out beyond Hurst Point to Milford-on-Sea, and were able to stand Solent Coastguard down when Gary called Anna to say that they were ashore. With extreme paddling, Gary had got the boat close enough to the spit at Hurst Castle and they landed on the channel side of the spit just East of the fort. The Storm 17 and Comet Trio sailed comfortably through the Hawkers Lake entrance and made it safely ashore at Keyhaven. Ged, Anna, Mel and Steve took the last Keyhaven to Hurst Point ferry, met Mike and Gary, carried the boat to the water and walked the boat around the spit to set them sailing on their way to Keyhaven, while we walked back along the gravel bank. It took about the same time to sail in very light airs as to walk, and we met Gary and Mike at Keyhaven to recover the boat at Spring Low tide. It meant pulling the GP up the river a little way before mounting it on the trolley. The strength of the ebb was not a lesson we needed to learn – we knew that. But by not staying with the fleet, and being out of reach up wind, Mike was disconnected and not able to be part of the conversation that we had about how important it was to get across the channel.

During the day Keith and Andy joined us with his Sport 14 and pottered about Keyhaven. Simon H joined us in the evening with a club Trio.

The evening was spent at camp, around Ged’s camp fire, and the highlight was some superb Calvados.


It was the busiest day for members of the club of the long weekend. Stephen joined us for a daysail.

Comet Trio Steve, Mel, Mike
Storm Ged, Stephen, Gary
Sport 14 Keith, Andy, Anna

Destination, Newtown Creek. Weather Forecast, East and Variable F3

We got wise to this light airs, extreme tide vibe and all took motors.

The destination was Lymington.

We set off after the racers, at 10am with the intended destination of Lymington, and again the solid F3 powered us out of Keyhaven and into a flat calm. We got just south of the entrance to Lymington when the flood current changed from east to west and we did not make the entrance.

Oxey Lake has steep, slippery sides at high tide.
The wind was very still…

Since Oxey Lake was right there, we stopped on a slippery concrete slope for first lunch. The tide had dropped about 15cm in 45 minutes so we departed and on a strong current and good SE wind got to Keyhaven in 20 minutes, exceeding 8kts over the ground. We had second lunch on the shingle bank at the entrance to Keyhaven, then went for a little sail for no good reason and picked up Simon H who had come out for a potter about in the Trio with girlfriend Ginny and Rory, Ginny’s son. 

It was frustrating to have failed to reach a destination half the distance away, and for a second time, and the winds were very fickle.

We were joined by Martin and Ben with their Comet Versa
More Calvados and we made a plan…

Like probably many Cody I was juggling family commitments over the Easter holiday weekend and I could not get away for the whole period much as I would have liked to do so.
Instead, I visited Camp for a day on the Saturday. It was a nice drive through the New Forest early in the morning and I arrived well in time to help get the boats ready. We had the best weather at Easter for 70 years and it was warm and pleasant. The day was a great success with a gentle breeze that was fun to sail in and that took us towards our lunch time stop at Oxey Lake.

We were back in time for me to be at a BBQ at my in laws’ who live in the New Forest in the early evening. 

A perfect day. I really value the opportunity to sail for a day like this. Thank you Cody. – Stephen


Launching at Keyhaven.

Comet Trio Steve, Mel
Storm Ged, Mike
Sport 14 Keith, Rob
Comet Trio Simon, Ginny, Rory
Comet Versa Martin, Ben

Leaving Keyhaven, taken from Hurst Point

Having looked at the tidal charts really closely it becomes clear that the flood tide reverses direction off Lymington near the high tide while still flooding, so the plan was to get to the starting platform which is to the East of the entrance, and be carried into the entrance and up the river. 

The wind started well, we got into the main channel and were bring carried nicely East and then the wind died and we drifted slowly North and a bit further beyond Lymington than we liked. The tidal current changed at the point where a very helpful Southerly F2 kicked in and we ran not only into the channel, but also ran past the ferry terminal and into the slipway at the Town Quay. It was surreal to be in the hustle and bustle of the centre of Lymington, and cafe’s provided food and drink.

We arrived at exactly high tide, having sailed on a run until a few metres from the entrance to the quay.

We motored out of Lymington. Martin and Ben were rudely and carelessly crushed between two giant powerboat cruisers and it really was not Martin’s fault – the gin palace driver simply had not seen them when he unexpectedly and without checking moved his boat sideways to berth alongside another gin palace. The breeze has picked up for our return to Keyhaven, and we enjoyed a drink at KYC before turning in.


Comet Trio Steve, Mike and Ben
Storm Ged, Mel
Comet Trio Simon, Ginny, Rory
Comet Versa Martin, Rob

We left at 09:30 for Newtown Creek. (We have to apologise for one of our helms not getting the rudder down quickly enough and bumping the enormously strong KYC committee boat just on leaving). The wind was again promising as we took the incoming current towards the East, but huge holes developed which Steve, Mike and Ben sailed into, then they got wind as the others got a hole. We made it in good time, mostly carried on the tide to the entrance to the creek and the SE wind was good enough to enter fairly easily. We moored in the creek to the West of the entrance and spent until high tide enjoying the sunshine. 

Before the tide came in…
…and after the tide came in.
Group photo of adventurous sailors

Ged went for a row in his boat right up to the bridge across the creek to the West, and motored back to us. The return was the usual race to the North shore in winds that were fickle in direction and strength, from a beautiful F3 from the East to a sudden 160 degree shift to a F3 from the West, South West and every point in between. We made the North shore at Oxey Lake and beat into Keyhaven in a variety of West and SW winds. 

Then we packed up and went home through surprisingly little traffic.

These charts show the crazy wind direction at Hurst Castle and Lymington that we enjoyed on Monday.

It’s almost unbelievable that a F3 could change 160 degrees in under two seconds to a F3 solidly from the other direction. We elegantly gybed from reach to reach without changing course at one point.

It was a surprisingly adventurous camp, and we hope to return to Keyhaven YC in 2020. We have also realised that if we join Keyhaven for their Easter Regatta it will be Spring tides as Easter is a festival set by the full moon. We promise to be better at getting to places next time.