To the east lie the historic naval dockyard of Portsmouth, the seaside suburbia which is Lee on Solent, Cowes and the busy commercial docks and oil refinery in Southampton Water, but towards the western end of the Solent the northern shoreline is low lying, undisturbed and often protected saltings and mudflats.
Going west past the Beaulieu and Lymington rivers brings you to Keyhaven and the Hurst Spit, reaching out almost to the Isle of Wight, the western entrance and narrowest part of the Solent. An area of strong tides and broken water.
The view (below) across Keyhaven Lake showing Hurst Castle, the lighthouse and beyond the Isle of Wight less than three quarters of a mile away.
Hurst Castle, originally built in the 16th Century during the reign of Henry VIII to prevent enemy shipping from entering the Solent from the west, modernised during the Napoleonic wars and again in the 1870’s when the enormous armoured wings were constructed and huge 38-ton guns were installed, two of which remain.
North west the mainland shore along Christchurch Bay to Milford on Sea.
South west from the top of Hurst Spit the view over Shingles Bank to the edge of the Isle of Wight and the famous Needles lighthouse.
This unusual fishing boat was heading out of the Lymington river recently, there is a clue to her origins in the letters -BH which denote her home port of Blyth in Northumbria in the far north east of England.
She has the look of a cobble which are traditional craft that worked the stretch of North Sea coast between Newcastle Upon Tyne and Berwick Upon Tweed. Cobbles were often worked from the beach. The canvas foredeck should keep her dry and provide some shelter. I estimated the length at 30 feet or so.
Later in the day we saw her in the distance fishing off the Head Buoy out in Christchurch Bay.
I've been away on business and for over a week I'd seem little more than the inside of hotel rooms, offices and airports, so arriving home late Saturday afternoon I was determined to get out in the fresh air for some exercise.
Even so it was a big effort to drag myself out of bed on Sunday and the morning was well under way as I ran down my usual route along the Hamble River.
My legs felt like sticks of rhubarb and running was exhausting, but as I struggled along the river the sun was already creeping above the trees on the eastern shore bathing the moored boats in a glorious saturated light.
I arrived home exhausted but happy and ready for a hearty breakfast
As a regular visitor to fellow blogger Tugster’s Waterblog I confess a fascination for tug boats. While not on the scale of the Hudson River, the working tugs in Fowey which were operating right outside our windows and are a always source of fascination.
The main commercial business of Fowey is china clay brought down from St Austells by train and loaded into coastal freighters in the small but deep water port. The working tugs often tow the ships stern first up river and into the docks, past the town and the crowded yacht moorings. Although on this occasion it was a small cruise ship that was being brought ready for departure.
During our last visit things were especially crowded as the tug Tregeagle stood by to assist HMS Enterprise (an Echo class multi role survey vessel) as she manoeuvred into position on a deep water mooring. Once she was settled it was time to bring in yet another china clay freighter. The whole exercise went off in a very calm and organised fashion.
Perhaps it's due to the mild weather we've been enjoying, the damp and misty autumnal mornings, but there seems to be a proliferation of wild fungi this year. For the first time in years I saw a circle ring of toadstools, which we called a fairy ring when we were kids.
This monster toadstool (or maybe it's a mushroom) was growing at the side of the road, it's about ten inches in diameter. I've tried to identify it on the internet without success so I don't know if it's edible or not, I hope so as it looks as though some passing animal has taken a large bite.
Laser sailor and fellow rower on the Hamble River, David sent me an email recently about his latest acquisition.
David writes "I've always wanted a rowing scull and earlier this year I bought a rather neglected 40 year old "restricted single " (24 ' 7'' long !! ) from the Broxbourne Rowing Club. After a lot of hard work and lots of ££££ spent on new bits, last tuesday was maiden voyage day. The selected venue was Heath Pond, Petersfield, its big enough to row on, easy to launch and shallow.
I rowed on tuesday and wednesday , it aint half wobbly ! but I knew that it would be. With some practice I should be able to row on the upper reaches of the Hamble."
On the settled water above Bursledon Bridge I think David's new scull will go like a train, I think I might need an outboard motor or he'll be on his second pint at the Horse and Jockey long before we arrive!
There was a stiff north westerly wind blowing as this ketch left Sarnia, their route took them against the strong current which flows down the St Clair Waterway, so fortunately while there were no “wind over tide” conditions it was still pretty lumpy as they cleared the waterway into Lake Huron.
The ketch, which looks like a Cheoy Lee Clipper was soon making good progress, the wind was around force 5 or 6 so a good hard breeze but a challenging sail never the less as emerging from the St Clair river into a north westerly, the lake is effectively a lee shore for some 40 miles in both directions, not somewhere you’d want to be caught out in a gale.