Monday, 31 August 2009

Sailing the Solent

The Solent is a stretch of water on the south coast of England, situated between the mainland and the Isle of Wight.

(picture with reference to Wikipedia)

Even though it is a big stretch of water, compared to the open sea it is relatively sheltered and apart from being a major shippinglane, favoured by yachts and pleasurecraft.

Cowes on the Isle of Wight is one of the major yaching centres and there are many beautiful spots, lovely harbours and marinas dotted around the Solent.

It can get quite busy and on a lovely sunny summerday there are lots of yachts and boats to be seen;


The variety of boats and ships goes from very small folk boats,

to yachts,

to very big yachts;

traditional barge type vessels,


to massive tankers....

This does mean you have to look out for shipping all the time, keep yourself to the 'rules of the road' (which exist just as much as if you had visible roads and traffic signs, you just have to know them all without these aids) and give way to those who have right of way, which of course include the big containerships as they are not easily manoeuverable.

It can get very busy, especially near Cowes where a lot of traffic is entering or leaving Cowes as well as having a major turning point for the big commercial shipping around a sandbank just in front of the entrance.

Here is the speedferry leaving Cowes;

and the passenger ferry entering (yes... it is the IKEA ferry! a good way of advertising..);

When you are leaving Cowes and see one of the BIG boys coming towards you...


You do start to feel very small indeed when within minutes this ship is about this size...

Very scary when it looks as if it is coming right for you!! (and sometimes these ships were hooting big deep horns at tiny boats that were in the way.... eeeeeek.....).

This time however, we knew we were not in the main channel and that the boat would turn before it got to us, which it did, so rest assured... we were never in any danger... but just imagine how scary that would be if you got it wrong like some boats did.....

Most of the time, away from the main channels it was very leisurely and more looking like this;

Occasionally seeing some of the big racing boats, like Icap Leopard;

or some of the many big yachts who have taken part in the Clipper Round the World Race and now are back here for the most part having groups onboard for Corporate Entertainment.


And when the day is done, and a good, energetic, sunny, breezy, fantastic day on the water is over, you can feel your skin glowing from the sunshine, and you anchor in a creek, or moor in a marina and have a good sleep in your bunk, being rocked to sleep gently by the movement of the boat.

These two, in one of the smallest craft on the Solent, are on their way to just a good nights sleep like this...

7 comments:

Dana said...

I love that you are sharing all of this. I get sea sick so can't imagine I will ever have the opportunity to do it myself. Thanks for taking me along while I stay on dry land!

Catherine Watts said...

Thanks for sharing that little bit of your sailing holiday. Felt like I was almost there and Rafael looks adorable in his life jacket.

Lauranie said...

What an AWESOME adventure!! You are a very lucky girl to live such a life! I love following along, thanks for sharing with us! And those BIG ferries....scary....they definitely put our American 18 wheelers of the road to shame!!! :D

Rafael's Mum said...

Thanks everyone, I am glad you like reading about it, makes it worth doing :-)

The really Big Boys are tankers Lauranie, makes the red and yellow ferries look small in comparison doesn't it?

Have you tried to double click on the grey tanker? THAT is REALLY scary!!

Sarah said...

I enjoyed your nervous moments on John's messages! I remember that feeling with my first quilt not that long ago. It's so damn scary!! I laughed at your post about being at artist with your absolutely gorgeous quilt. Well done with that one!

Susan/FlossieBlossoms said...

Oh, lovely blog with great photos and info, thanks so much! I'll have to show this to my husand, he's the family sailor, used to have a sailboat and spent a whole year sailing the Bahamas, the big goof! This was before I met him, though. Poor man ate lobster almost every day.

Keep up the good bloggin'! And please, what is your lovely dog's name? Is HE Rafael?

Cathy said...

Wow Marguerite, what amazing pics! And what a busy waterway, I would be very scared seeing those huge tankers up close like that! Looks like you had a wonderful time though xo