Whether you will be taking Bluetooth as a bareboat and skippering yourself, or as a skippered charter. One question we are asking regularly is “where is good to visit”.
So here is a brief round-up of some of our favourite places to visit in and around Solent Water by Bluetooth RIB. There are obviously a lot more places to visit than you see below, we will be adding more places as we visit them ourselves.
Rather than turning starboard out of Hamble Point Marina, turn to port and keep to 6 knots to enjoy a cruise along Hamble River. To make the most out of this cruising area it would be best to enjoy at high tide. If it’s not high tide you will be able to venture to the middle of River Hamble Country Park.
On this adventure, you’ll pass Hamble Quay where you may spot the Pink Ferry as she takes passengers between Hamble and Warsash. If the weather is nice and it’s a weekend or the school holidays, Hamble Quay will be packed full of children and adults eagerly trying to capture the largest crabs that they can.
The next building to port, with a pointy roof, is the Royal Southern Yacht Club. She sits next to Port Hamble Marina which is part of the MDL group. If you wish to stop to explore Hamble Village then this would be the best marina to moor up at. Call in and let them know you are on Bluetooth from Hamble Point Drystack and you can stay at no charge. In the marina itself, there is Banana Wharf restaurant and a chandlery.
A little further along the river is Mercury Yacht Harbour. Again part of the MDL group and one in which you can moor at no charge. It was within Mercury Yacht Harbour that Bluetooth was built by Coastline RIBS. The Gaff Rigger restaurant and bar has great views across the water.
Carry on along Hamble River and you’ll pass 100’s of moored yachts and people enjoying SUP’s and kayaks. There may also be some brave swimmers, so do keep your eyes peeled. As you bear left you’ll soon be passing the Jolly Sailor pub. Its claim to fame is that it was the pub from the 1980’s TV classic Howard’s Way. For fans of Howard’s Way the Elephant boatyard straight after the pub was Jack Rolfe’s Mermaid Boatyard.
You’ll soon be passing under a series of bridges. The A27, the train and then the M27. In this area, you may spot some swans and other wildlife in the banks. You’ll soon be passing into River Hamble Country Park. Here there is a pier that is popular to crab from and to dive off and swim around.
If you are fancying a swim to cool off this area would be a good place to drop anchor and jump in. Just be wary of the depth before attempting any Olympic dives.
Newtown Creek is between Cowes and Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. It’s a National Trust run anchorage and during your visit, you may be approached by volunteers asking for donations from non-members for visiting.
We love Newtown Creek for two reasons. The main reason being that it’s a great place to spot Seals. There is no guarantee that you will see them, but we tend to find they like hanging out on the port side channel. Please don’t get too close to them either in the RIB or if you are swimming.
The other reason we love Newtown Creek is that it’s a calm place to drop the anchor and go for a swim. Now swimming in the Solent isn’t particularly toasty – but if you are brave or have a good wetsuit, then jump in and enjoy. This would also be a nice anchorage to enjoy SUP fun.
Pay a visit and drop the hook at the bay of Osbourne House. The former holiday home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Tuck yourself in and it’s a great spot to jump into the water and enjoy a swim around Bluetooth. This is also a nice area to SUP around. Do keep your eyes peeled here though as sadly some small boats think it’s an anchorage to speed through.
There are a few good reasons to visit Portsmouth Harbour, although one may require a little investigation before you set off.
Portsmouth Harbour is home to Gunwharf Quays. Crammed with outlet shops of all varieties, food and drink venues there is something for everyone to enjoy. If you’ve got a head for heights then take a trip up Spinnaker Tower. Dare you stand on the glass floor?
Gunwharf Quays has its own marina. Radio in and you can stop as a short term visitor for your stay.
Portsmouth Harbour is also the home to some very large Royal Navy Vessels. If you are in luck you may spot the aircraft carriers The Prince of Wales and/or Queen Elizabeth. Grand warships that can be seen from a distance – but don’t try to get too close or you’ll receive a blue light escort! If you want to check what ships are likely to be in the harbour then take a look beforehand at the Marine Traffic website.
As you cruise Portsmouth Harbour keep your eyes peeled to see the rigging of HMS Warrior and HMS Victory. They stand as part of the permanent displays in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Well worth a visit and a 15-minute walk from the marina at Gunwharf Quays.
Click here to take a look at a previous article about visiting Hythe on Bluetooth.
If you’d like to visit the historic city of Southampton you can moor at central Ocean Village marina with no charge.
Ocean Village is surrounded by well known historical buildings. It’s located within an area of Southampton where many people spent their last night before boarding the fated RMS Titanic. Ocean Village also played host to the start of the Whitbread Round the World Race (now known as the Volvo Ocean Race)
From the marina, it’s a 10-15 minute stroll past the ancient walls into the main city centre. Here you will find all the main shops, restaurants, bars and leisure facilities.
If you aren’t wanting to shop then here is a link to some self-guided walking tours of the city.
Standing proud in Solent Water, you can see 4 Palmeston Forts. The forts were built during the 1860’s prompted by concerns about the strength of the French Navy. Named after Lord Palmeston, the prime minister at the time, locally they are more commonly known as Solent Forts.
Spitbank Fort is now a luxury Island retreat but it wasn’t always so. Building on Spitbank Fort started in 1867 until 1878 at the grand cost of £167,300.
St Helens Fort stands close to the Isle of Wight and was built to protect St Helens Anchorage. We are led to believe that this privately owned Fort is currently not being used. In 2003 it was offered for sale but would-be buyers were deterred when finding out that living there would not give the residents access to any residential services.
Horse Sand Fort is one of the two larger Forts. Standing at 61m / 200 foot wide. In 2020, Horse Sand Fort was put up for sale. It was described as a blank canvas, with 100 chambers and living quarters, plus the original gun carriage. There are also nesting Peregrine Falcons. So if Fort ownership and renovation is on your bucket list, you can buy Horse Sand Fort for around £750,000.
No Man’s Land Fort is pretty identical to Spitbank Fort. It has been tastefully kitted out as a hotel. Since 2020 it’s been for sale. So if you have a spare £4,250,000 you can become the proud owner of a 99,000 sq ft hotel, restaurant and leisure complex on four floors, including a helipad.
The Needles are one of the UK’s most iconic landscapes and what comes into most people’s minds when they think about the Isle of Wight. A superb formation of three chalk rocks standing 30m proud at the Western end of the Isle of Wight. Standing guard next to the Needles is the Needles Lighthouse, built-in 1859 and automated since 1984.
Getting to the Needles straight from Hamble Point will take you about an hour. We’d only advise you to make the trip if the sea is calm, otherwise, you may find the journey to be uncomfortable and a little wet. Although it looks as though you may be able to pass between the rocks, don’t. There are submerged rocks and other obstacles that aren’t worth risking the excess on!.
Click here to take a look at an article written about visiting Cowes.
If you fancy a slow and meandering trip then a visit to the Beaulieu River should be on your list. It’ll take about 30 minutes from Hamble Point Marina to reach the mouth of Beaulieu River and then it’s a steady 5 knots as you cruise along.
Keep your eyes peeled for Sammy the Seal. A friendly chap who seems to like to pop his head up for a photo and lounge around on the platform of tenders and kayaks. He may be friendly but do please remember that he is a wild animal and should be treated with caution and never fed.
If you wish to explore on foot then radio Buckers Hard Yacht Harbour for a short stay berth.
Once ashore, turn left from the marina and you will come across The Master Builders. Always a great place to stop off for a lovely meal and drink. It does get busy so booking ahead is advisable.
The Master Builders sits on the site of the Bucklers Hard Maritime Museum. Click through to read more about this fascinating site where during the Second World War, it became a base for motor torpedo’s and, further downstream, sections of the Mulberry harbours were constructed in the old oyster beds in preparation for the D-Day landings. If visiting on foot then some of the exhibits are free to see and a fee is charged to visit the Maritime Museum.
If you turn right from Beaulieu Marina you can walk into Beaulieu Village. The walk is just over a mile and should take about 25 minutes. At the heart of the village is The Montagu Arms which is a hotel with a bar and restaurant. Again another lovely place to stop and enjoy. The rest of the village has chocolate box houses and lovely gift and sweet shops. Watch out for the Donkeys that roam freely in the area.
You can of course carry on motoring up the Beaulieu River. Keep your eyes peeled for wonderful wildlife and fabulous waterside homes. You are passing alongside the North Solent Nature Reserve and some areas aren’t accessible via land. Please be aware that to protect important colonies of nesting seabirds, Gull Island and Warren Shore are closed to the public, so don’t try to moor on a bank. If you need more details then contact Beaulieu Estate Office (01590 614621 / email@example.com.
There is a really great map of other places to visit on the Beaulieu River website – click here to download.