Welcome to the UKWA Home Page Forums Cruising round Hayling Island

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    Putting this up as it is a superb daysail that has been done by plenty of people but I found it hard to get much information before I set off. I had managed to glean that it would take anything from about 4.5 to 6 hours plus.
    I’ve always wanted to go round Hayling Island so when I saw a good forecast and actually had a competent friend, Matt, (instead of family) for crew and a day where I realised the tides could help how could we not go for it. Two harbours, open sea and a bridge. And beautiful autumn weather, (25 Sept.)

    The forecast was a force 3-5 NE on the hard at Itchenor but studying other forecasts I thought it was most likely to stay more around force 3. Low tide was 2.26pm neaps.

    I divided the trip up into 5 legs, clockwise round Hayling :-
    1. Itchenor out Chichester Harbour mouth (4.5 miles, took 55 mins)
    2. Along Hayling Sea Front(4.5 miles took 1h 5mins)
    3 Entering Langstone Harbour down to the bridge (5.5 miles, took 1.5 hrs sailing) and under bridge
    4. The Bridge back into Chichester harbour past Northney Marina and up Emsworth channel to East Head (5 miles)
    5. East Head back to Itchenor ( 2.75 miles)

    (Note, the distances are rough land miles and it took us probably 30 minutes messing around under the bridge with the mast, and legs 4 and 5 including the bit of rowing took 1hr 45 approx)

    In planning terms my concern has always been, if you are using the tide to enter or exit one of the harbours then you’ll have a real (impossible) challenge going against the tide at the other harbour entrance. Having watched the tide flooding out at both harbour mouths I knew those sort of currents needed avoiding. Hence my plan was to use the falling tide from Itchenor out past East head and out of the harbour and then to go through at low water into Langstone. The gentle / moderate off-shore wind meant I would not have to worry about large waves off Hayling Seafront. Having never shot a bridge before I had no real idea what would happen there but we carried an outboard in case things were awkward. Navigation-wise I simply referred to large scale OS map.

    So what happened. Arrived at the hard 10.30am. Got a free 24hr parking ticket off someone who’d messed up and paid £6.50 for a day sail. Launched just before 12.00. Wind NE so a lee shore which was a little awkward.
    Out the harbour , cut the corner close to East Head and lucky to avoid grounding.
    Past West pole 12.52 before heading west. Sea a bit lumpy and wind light (on a run)
    Wind gradually picked up and some gentle swell surfing before passing the East Winner and heading into Langstone at 2pm.
    Wind a bit light and a very mellow passage into the harbour. Past the Kench then 2nd right (its a technical term) past Sword sands up the Langstone channel before beaching at 14.49 for a wee rest, and to let the tide catch us up a bit . I was surprised how few channel markers there are here but being low tide and knowing the shape of the island all helped. Langstone is a much quieter harbour for boat traffic anyhow.
    This 3rd leg was a steady series of tacks (and gentle groundings of centreboard) to reach the bridge and old railway bridge supports . It was extremely shallow but there was little current and we managed to sail into the bit between at 15.45.

    Realised it was so shallow ( less than 1ft) we could walk the boat under the bridge and even considered leaving the mast up but it was just too tall, so we had to drop it. 15.56.

    As newbie bridge shooters we nearly went under the bridge sideways which would have been disastrous for the mast lying behind us, jumped in again and then with one oar and Matt steering we anchored far side. I was very aware that currents under the bridge and sudden invisible drops under the surface could make walking boat through dangerous, but all went well.

    (Planning note. Although neap tides and nearly 1.5hrs after low water ideally we could have done with more water to get sailing sooner, approaching and departing bridge would have been much easier, but both harbour entrances were easy for currents.)

    Mast back up we attempted to sail but not enough water so rowed 16.35 for perhaps a km (both oars grounding sometimes)……..channel so narrow. (New Cut to Sweare Deep). Finally had enough water to resume sailing just after where Northney marina comes out, then a lovely steady sail beam reach against a gentle incoming tide up the Emsworth channel.

    Wind really freshened to a full four and we were planning off East Head before beating back upwind to Itchenor..

    With the tide in our favour and the wind just about on the beam we dropped mainsail just before the Northshore pontoon and came in under genoa alone at 6.15pm. Loaded and on the road 7.05pm. Fantastic. A successful trip with the outboard out of sight in the locker all the way, and about 22 miles in 6 hours (Olympic hopefuls watch out!) Now to do the Day Skipper Theory course and find out how I should have done it.

    Bob Harland

    Dave, that’s a very nice write-up.

    As for shooting bridges, preparation is key;

    I remember doing the Wayfarer passage race a good few years ago on a similar route. We were a long way behind the top racing boys but we did get a special mention for the best bridge shooting;
    The wind was behind us and with some speed we approached under full sail. Fortunately it all came down in what looked like a controlled fashion a few metres before the bridge. We then somehow managed to get mast and sails back up in one go a similar distance from the other side. I think we gained about 10 places.

    It does not always go so smoothly, usually just as you start to get a bit confident about bridge shooting. The Upper Thames has lots of bridges, I remember clouting a wooden footbridge so hard I thought I must have put a dent in the mast.
    Also judging whether or not you need to lower the mast to get under a bridge can be tricky. Someone who will remain nameless attempted to get under one of the higher bridges on the Bristol city waterway by heeling the boat over a few degrees. But misjudged things and got badly stuck half way through. Fortunately we were behind so we lowered our mast.

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