When we announced our holiday plans a couple of friends commented that it was a strange choice. When we got there we had a similar reaction, a local even commented "why would you come here for a holiday?"
Didn't seem a bad choice to us.
and the mystery location, well there's a slight clue in the bottom picture - any guesses?
I had cause to nip over the Ryde on the Isle of Wight recently and without thinking I booked passage aboard the Wight Link Fast Catamaran which takes about 20 minutes to cross the eastern Solent from Portsmouth.
It was only when I got to Ryde that I realised I'd missed the opportunity to take the hovercraft which runs a service between Southsea and Ryde.
Ryde is surrounded by shallow sand banks which stretch right out into the Solent and dry during low water spring tides, but that's of no consequence for an air cushion vehicle, the hovercraft rides smoothly over the sand and up onto a purpose built ramp just off the esplanade.
Hovercraft have a long association with the Solent, invented by Sir Christopher Cockerell in 1956 much of the development for the later commercial models was carried out in the area. Today only the Southsea - Ryde service remains, but many examples of these fascinating craft are on display at the Hovercraft Museum at Lee on Solent
A classic 1970's racer, I think I know what she is and if so, has a very interesting history, however there are a couple of locals with encyclopaedic memories who are all too keen to point out my errors at the yacht club bar, so I'll keep quiet on this one, just enjoy what might have been a 1979 Fastnet yacht.
The Royal Southern YC looked to be hosting an Optimist event for the weekend, so there were more than a few out on the river many complete with "mummy boats", although in this case Mummy & Daddy seem more preoccupied with a mooring buoy rather than their little boy.
A classic gaff cutter, I think it's Polly Agatha which is a brand new, traditionally built replica of a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter. Last time I saw her she was painted cream, so I'm guessing that she's had a new paint job for 2011.
The original Fastnet Race was won by Jolie Brise a Le Harve Pilot Cutter, these days most of the race entries are modern, high tech racers, quite a few of which were returning to Hamble after this year's race which saw the 100 foot supermaxi yacht Rambler capsize after loosing her keel.
There are quite a few Metre class yachts on the river, this one looks like a modern 6 Meter being towed out of the river.
As do these two with a very nice tug boat. A Google search shows that the Royal Solent YC are holding their Taittinger Regatta at the weekend, with 6 Metre entries so presumably they are heading for the western Solent which is where the racing will take place.
In complete contrast to the Metre boats is this delightful day boat which seems to be rigged with a lug sail and has the look of one of John Welsford's designs, possibly his popular 14' 9" Navigator.
Although I go to Portsmouth quite often, many of you will recognise the daughter/taxi driver relationship, I don't normally get the opportunity to wander around and have a look about. So when I had to catch the ferry over to the Isle of Wight recently I grabbed my camera and arrived at the old Harbour Station with a bit of time to spare.
I've seen HMS Warrior many times and have even been on board for a wine tasting, but she never fails to move me. Back in 1861 and for a very few years she was the largest warship in the world and the ultimate deterrent. As with most technological advances although revolutionary in design by 1864 there were faster, larger and more powerful ships with better armour and more guns. Despite a short career, she was saved from the breakers yard by a slump in the value of scrap metal and thankfully survived as a refuelling barge for many years before being restored.
When you stand on the open bridge above the citadel looking forwards, astern and then aloft you still get the sense of the dominant power she once held.
Clearing out the loft I found some old 1976 vintage copies of Practical Boat Owner, it was claimed to be Britain's best selling boating magazine.
In complete contrast to modern journals most of the magazine was printed in black and white with some very grainy monochrome photography. There were exceptions, some very nice line drawings and occasionally as the example below a few delightful watercolour illustrations, this one of a Norfolk One design dinghy as part of a series on dinghy sailing.
Back in the switched on 70's there were sideboards, flared trousers and some really dodgy barnets (translate that Google), not quite sure where Helly Hanson were going with this one, why is she draped uncomfortably across the foredeck and why are they wearing oilskins on a flat calm day?
Rockall Sails had their finger on the pulse, or at least an advert designed to raise the pulse rate of some of the magazine's readership.
There was a much broader focus to the magazine with coverage of canal and river boats, dinghies and cruising yachts.
As you might expect from the title there was a a great deal of "do it yourself" coverage and advice, everything from building in the briefly popular ferro cement, to wet suits, sails and especially building from kits or a hull moulding which were available from a wide variety of manufacturers.
The British Seagull outboard was if not in its hey day still selling strongly, but then again so was the Austin Allegro the only car ever to have been built with a square steering wheel - I kid you not. Quite why Seagull chose to advertise in full colour is a mystery since their engines are entirely monochrome.
As an aside the boat top left below looks like a plywood Silhouette designed by Robert Tucker which has featured in these pages a few time.
There were some exciting newcomers, like this Streaker dinghy (probably not the first choice of name today) designed by Jack Holt, presumably in response to the Laser and for some reason promoted via a commercial tie up with Tate & Lyle.
And finally there was this advert featuring Robin Knox-Johnson modelling state of the art wet weather gear, it seems that the intervening years have been relatively kind to Mr RKJ.
In the long hot summer of 1976, thirty five years ago that was the state of our boating scene, the same year that Star Wars came to our screens, the Sex Pistols changed popular music forever and the UK economy was crumbling - hmmm.