Located within The Solent and within the protected natural harbour the marina offers good protection. The marina is however subject to wash from the heavily trafficked waterway and a swell from well-developed westerlies. Safe access is available night or day, at any state of the tide and in all reasonable conditions.
Keyfacts for Gunwharf Quays Marina
SummaryA completely protected location with safe access.
Position and approaches
Haven position50° 47.662' N, 001° 6.522' W
This is the southern end of the outer breakwater, adjacent to the entrance, that exhibits a light 2F.G (vert) at night.
What is the initial fix?
What are the key points of the approach?
The Solent and Isle of Wight coastal description.
- Booking ahead is essential as it is unlikely the Queen’s Harbour Master will allow a marina approach without a secured berth.
- Tidal planning is essential as little headway can be made at the harbour narrows during maximum ebb.
- Southern approaches may proceed up the western side of the well-marked and deep main entrance fairway.
- Western and eastern approaches can take benefit from cuts that save considerable amounts of sailing time.
- Vessels must stay in the assigned Boat Channel, commencing at the No.4 Buoy, for its entire length and only exit above the Port Ballast Beacon opposite the marina.
- No crossing should take place until permission has been obtained from the Queen’s Harbour Master, on VHF Ch 11, to cross the fairway.
- Remain 50 metres clear of all warships and MoD berths and facilities, and 100 metres clear of all submarines.
- Maintain a sharp watch for Town Quay ferry movements before approaching the marina.
Not what you need?
- Haslar Marina - 0.3 nautical miles WSW
- Gosport Marina - 0.4 nautical miles NW
- Royal Clarence Marina - 0.7 nautical miles NW
- Hardway Sailing Club - 1.5 nautical miles NW
- Stokes Bay - 2.1 nautical miles WSW
- Southsea Marina - 2.8 nautical miles E
- Port Solent Marina - 3 nautical miles N
- WicorMarine Yacht Haven - 3.1 nautical miles NNW
- Langstone Harbour - 3.5 nautical miles ENE
- Portsmouth Marine Engineering - 4 nautical miles NW
How to get in?
Portsmouth is Hampshire’s second largest city and, when its suburbs and the town of Southsea are taken together, it occupies the whole of the area known as Portsea Island making it the United Kingdom's only island city. The city is one of the world’s great naval bases, the dockyard of which fronts a large area on the east side of the harbour. Formerly a naval yard Gunwharf Quays Marina is situated in the heart of Portsmouth’s Historic Naval Dockyards, in what is now an exclusive shopping area beneath the cities’ landmark Spinnaker Tower.
Gunwharf Quays Marina is a spacious marina, with ample manoeuvering room, that largely acts as the city’s berthing location. It can accommodate power and sail craft up to 79 metres with a maximum depth of 5.5 metres. The marina tends to cater for large scale sailing events but it has several general visitor berths available.
Booking ahead is essential with Gunwharf Quays Marina and not just for availability reasons. Portsmouth Harbour’s entry and exits are only permitted through the Boat Channel along the western side of the fairway. Vessels must stay in the channel for its entire length and only exit above the Port Ballast Beacon opposite the marina. It is then mandatory that permission to cross the fairway is obtained from the Queen’s Harbour Master, on VHF Ch 11, to access Gunwharf Quays Marina on the east side. The Queen’s Harbour Master will expect a marina berth to have been confirmed and are likely to deny permission to cross without it.
Contact Gunwharf Quays Marina at least 24 Hours in advance on P: +44 2392 836732, VHF Ch. 80 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Marina opening hours are 10:00am - 8:00pm. However it is always worth trying on VHF 80 for short notice requirements.
Queen’s Harbour Master, Portsmouth, P: +44 23 9272 3124 coordinates the movements of all vessels north of a line between Gilkicker Point and Horse Sand Fort Light. The harbour is a heavily trafficked naval and commercial port. Leisure vessels can expect to encounter commercial ships, ro-ro ferries, cross-river services, cross-Channel ferries, warships, High Speed Ferries and a host of pleasure craft operating within this confined area. Hence it is important to adhere to, and to follow the four key port specific regulations.
- • Vessels operating with Portsmouth Harbour limits should monitor the Queen's Harbour Master’s traffic and navigational information channel on VHF Ch. 11, or VHF Ch. 13 if instructed.
- • Keep clear of ships and avoid close quarters situations. Leisure craft should give priority to commercial traffic within the harbour limits. Whenever practicable it is preferable that leisure craft should leave the approach channels for the navigable water outside it well before the arrival of any commercial vessel. Be aware that many of the ships within the harbour area will be restricted in their movements and unable to manoeuvre to keep clear of leisure craft.
- • Keep clear of Ministry of Defence, MoD, vessels where a special mandatory exclusion zone applies. Craft are not to navigate within 50 metres of any MoD vessel, foreign warship, establishment, or within 100 metres of any submarine alongside or at anchor. Yellow buoys are sometimes deployed to delineate the 50 metre exclusion zone but not necessarily so. Exclusion zones for warships underway extend for 500 metres around the subject vessel or to the limits of navigable water if less. During activation of an exclusion zone, all vessels underway, except those involved in the escort or specifically authorized by the escort commander, are to remain clear of the zone. Vessels in contravention of an exclusion zone, after being warned by at least two methods, such as radio, flashing light, or voice, will be deemed to have the intention of committing a hostile act against the warship being escorted. Queen's Harbour Master provides details of all such ship movement on VHF 11 or 13.
- • Vessels less than 20 metres in length entering or leaving the harbour must use the Boat Channel that extends on the west side of the main fairway between No. 4 Buoy, about ½ a mile southwestwardly of the entrance, and the Ballast Beacon, about ¼ of a mile within the entrance. Vessels over 20 metres must contact the Queen’s Harbour Master on VHF Ch.11 before entering or leaving the harbour.
Tidal planning will be essential for any vessel planning to enter Portsmouth Harbour. Ebb streams attain rates of 5 knots and above in the third and fourth hours of the cycle within the narrow entrance of the harbour, and which most likely will be heavily trafficked at the same time. During maximum ebb little headway can be made at the narrows and it is best to avoid arriving at these times. In fog or poor visibility stay alongside. If caught out seek a safe berth or anchorage as soon as possible.
The Solent and Isle of Wight coastal description provides approach details. Portsmouth Harbour is approached from the eastern part of The Solent from an area known as Spithead. Spithead is bounded by Spit Sand, on the north side, Horse and Dean Sand, on the northeast side, and Ryde Sand and No Man’s Land, on the south side.
Vessels approaching from the south should use the main entrance channel that leads north and northwest, between the dangers, from the north side of Spithead to the harbour. The entrance fairway is maintained at a dredged depth of 9.5 metres as far as the northern end of the main naval base. It is not permissible to enter the harbour on the east side of the main fairway, and the boat channel must not be entered from the east side. Cross to the west side near the Outer Spit South Cardinal buoy on first approaches and proceed in.
St. Jude's spire and Southsea Castle light house in transit 003°T leads between Outer Spit South Cardinal buoy and Horse Sand Starboard buoy and up the length of the first leg. Southsea Castle Dir WRG Iso. 2s16m11M White sector, 000° - 003°, by night. Thereafter the main shipping channel is well marked and easy to follow with plenty of water for leisure craft outside the marks.
Vessels approaching from the east will find the land between Selsea Bill and Gilkicker Point to be low and broken by deep inlets in which are the islands of Thorney, Hayling and Portsea. Between the islands are the harbours of Chichester, Langston, and westernmost Portsmouth. Langstone and Chichester Harbours have off-lying sand flats that are a mass of breakers in strong southerly winds. An offing of two miles or keeping Horse Sand Fort, the middle of the three substantive round tower forts that will be visible in the distance, on the needle 'east' will clear all these dangers.
On the eastern side of Portsmouth’s approach channel is the Horse and Dean Sand shoal. The shoal commences from Southsea Castle, marking the eastern side of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, and continues southwest for nearly two miles. The conspicuous Horse Sand Fort is situated near the southern edge of the bank. Standing opposite to a similar No Man’s Land Fort, it offers excellent sea bearings for this shoal and The Solent’s main fairway that passes between the two corresponding forts.
A submerged barrier joins the Horse Sand Fort with the site of the former Lumps Fort that existed on the shore above the beach. The defensive barrier was set in place in 1905 and is made up of concrete pedestals that vary in height and partially uncover at LW. The barrier is marked by yellow beacons with yellow top marks along its length.
Vessels approaching from the east have three options to navigate around the Horse and Dean Sands shoal, the fort and its barrier that extends to the shore:
- (i) The open water approach outside of Horse Sand Fort
- (ii) Cut through the submerged barrier’s ‘Main Passage’ located about midway between Horse Sand Fort and the shore
- (iii) At half-tide or above cut through the submerged barrier’s ‘Smaller Passage’ off the shoreline
The open water approach is to simply round Horse Sand Fort and steer for the Portsmouth Harbour approach channel. Pass Saddle starboard buoy and join the main entrance channel taking care to cross to the west side of the channel at right angles when it is safe to do so, as described in the southern approach.
The latter two approach options are one of the two passages through the submerged barrier that exists between Horse Sand Fort and the mainland at Southsea. With a sufficient rise a convenient short cut may be had by cutting through one of the passes. Approaches to the barrier and its passes leads a vessel to pass over Horse and Dean Sands. Cut a course to pass south of the black/red/black Roway Wreck isolated danger marker, whereupon it is safe to steer for the desired pass through the barrier. Take care not to drift north as a 1.3 metre patch is situated close north of the described track.
The well-used Main Passage is about midway along the barrier, about a mile south from the shore and north from the fort. The cut is 55 metres wide with a depth of 1.2 metres chart datum. It is marked by a lit dolphin Q.R on its southern side and a lit green top-marked pile Q.G.2M on the north side.
Main Passage – Dolphin Q.R. 6m2M position: 50°46.005’N 001°04.105’W
The dolphin is readily identified in daylight from a great distance. Unless a vessel is enjoying a favourable tack this pass can be considered the preferred route as it saves a considerable amount of sailing time when approaching Portsmouth from the east.
A Smaller Boat Passage lies 200 metres out from the shoreline at the north end of the barrier. The passage is 12 metres wide and has a depth of 0.6 metres chart datum. It is located a quarter of a mile east of the head of South Parade pier head. The north side of the passage is marked by a starboard beacon and the south side by a port beacon. This is a valid option for most leisure craft cutting in on the top half of the tide and passing along off the head of South Pier.
Once through either of the submerged barrier’s cuts, steer for the starboard mark located about a ¼ of a mile southward of Southsea Castle with its stone tower painted in prominent black and white bands. Cross to the west side of the channel at right angles when it is safe to do so and follow the ample marks in from either the Spit Refuge or Ridge port hand buoys.
Vessels approaching from the west will clear all dangers from Lee Point to Glicker Point by keeping Spit Sand Fort open of Fort Glicker; surmounted by a signal mast and marked by a light.
Within Glicker Point, the western side of the approaches to Portsmouth Harbour are flanked by Spit Sand. Spit Sand is an immense accumulation of coarse sand and gravel that is thickly mixed up with broken shell. It has no natural formation of rock near its surface. The shape of this sand spit somewhat resembles a triangle with its base resting upon Haslar Beach, occupying the whole distance from Fort Glicker to Blockhouse, with the triangle’s, or spit’s, apex extending off nearly 1.7 miles in a line perpendicular from its base.
A quarter of a mile within the 4.5 metres outer edge of Spit Sand is Spit Sand Fort, often known as Spitbank Fort, Spitsand Fort or simply Spit Fort. The 1859 fort is one of four located in the eastern Solent and is now a luxury hotel. About 60 metres in diameter and exhibiting a light Fl.R.5s from a small turret, 18 metres above high water that is visible for 7 miles, it stands as a conspicuous mark for the outer end of Spit Sand. The fort is positioned ½ a mile northward from Spit Sands actual apex that is marked by the Outer Spit South Cardinal, but this outer end of the spit is deep with from 3.5 to 5 metres of water south of the fort. The general depth in Spit Sand is from 2.1 to 3 metres, which present little issue to leisure craft. There are some shoal spots that have as little as 1.2 metres and there are several small obstructions that make it dangerous for unwary leisure vessels at low tide.
Within Spit Sand are two dangerous banks, Hamilton Bank and Spit Bank that must be circumvented. Hamilton Bank is the main danger for leisure craft. It flanks the western side of the channel close to the harbour entrance out nearly ¾ of a mile from Haslar Beach. It dries in spots at the lowest tides, and has only 1.2 metres of water over its outer end. To the southwest of Hamilton Bank, Spit Bank flanks the channel for almost half a mile north-westward from Spit Sand Fort and generally has about 1.8 metres but it has patches with as little as 1.7 metres.
The three primary options to navigate through Spit Sand and approach the entrance channel from the west are:
- (i) The open water approach outside of Spit Sand fort
- (ii) Cut through Spit Sand, between Hamilton and Spit banks, via the ‘Swashway’
- (iii) At high water cut in along the shoreline via the ‘Inner Swashway’
The open water approach is to simply pass Glicker Point, with Fort Gilkicker, 400 metres to port and steer about 108°T towards Outer Spit South Cardinal, Q(6)+L Fl.15s. Then turn hard to port to pick up the main channel as previously outlined in the southern approach. This is preferred if there is a big seaway running, and at night. In settled conditions a considerable amount of distance can be saved by rounding south of Spit Sand Fort. Both these options are lit at night.
The Swashway is the preferred daylight leisure craft approach. It crosses Spit Sand between the Spit and Hamilton banks about ½ a mile to the northwest of Spit Sand Fort. It is the well-travelled route, and the Isle of Wight ferries also tend to use this channel at high tide. So expect to encounter a high level of traffic when navigating in the vicinity of the Swashway.
The Swashway has a minimum of 2.6 metres on the transit of 049.4° T. The bearing is provided by the 33 metres high, prominent, Naval War Memorial, standing on Southsea Common overlooking the promenade. Bringing the memorial in line with the southeast edge of a conspicuous yellow apartment building, 400 metres northeast, forms the transit. This transit need not be followed exactly, except at LWS, as the Swashway channel has between 2.2 metres and 3.2 over an area 350 metres wide. Although there are no lit navigation markers for the Swashway the memorial is clearly floodlit at night and it is possible to find the channel by a line-of-bearing always maintaining a careful watch for unlit buoys. It is important not to drift north of the transit whist approaching its outer, or southwestern end, as the charted ‘Numerous small obstructions’ are solid blocks that stand up 0.9 metres from the seabed. Likewise a ¼ of a mile to the northwest of these obstructions, ½ a mile east of Fort Monekton, are the Monekton Blocks that stand up a metre from the seabed and are exposed on a low spring tide.
Once through Swashway the inner end of the channel will make its presence known by the echo-sounder dropping away to 5 metres on the edge of Portsmouth’s main approach channel. Turn to port and follow the contour northward for the initial fix by the No. 4 buoy.
The final Inner Swashway option is best left to local boatmen, or a vessel that has the benefit of local knowledge aboard, at high water. Vessels of 20 metres or more in length are prohibited from using the Inner Swashway.
Image: Michael Coppins ASA 4.0
The Inner Swashway is situated between Fort Blockhouse and the northern tip of a drying patch of the Hamilton Bank located about 260 metres to the south. It has a least depth of 0.3 metres and is subject to silting. The north, or inner end, of the Swashway is marked by the Swashway Red Beacon, Oc. R.15s, that must be passed close south or to port on entering the harbour.
Those approaching the Inner Swashway should be careful to avoid all charted obstructions approaching the spherical seasonal buoy close east of the drying sections of the Hamilton Bank and pass it close west. Steer northward until 100 metres off the wall and follow it north-westward for 400 metres steering to pass close south of the Swashway Red Beacon outside the harbour mouth. This length should have the Round Tower, marked by a light on the east side of the harbour entrance about a mile northwest of Southsea Castle, on a bearing of about 035° T. Once past the Swashway Beacon swing hard to port to join the Small Boat Channel above the initial fix and continue along the channel into the harbour entrance. Vessels approaching from the west may freely enter or leave Portsmouth Harbour’s Boat Channel where practical.
From the Portsmouth initial fix the 214 metres wide entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, between Blockhouse Fort on the west and the Round Tower on the east, will be clearly visible.
The initial fix is set at the entrance to the Boat Channel at the No. 4 Port Buoy, Q.R. ‘4’. The Boat Channel extends between the No. 4 Buoy and Ballast Beacon Fl. R. 2.5s. It is 50 metres wide and runs immediately outside and along the western edge of the main channel into Portsmouth Harbour. The use of this channel is mandatory for all vessels less than 20 metres in length entering or leaving the harbour. All sailing vessels fitted with engines must lower sails and proceed under power when in this channel. The speed limit is 10 kn, through the water, within the harbour. Navigational piles should not be approached too closely as many are on mud banks which are steep in most parts but which are beginning to edge into the channel in some places.
Large ships entering the harbour are controlled by a system of lights displayed at Fort Blockhouse signal station. Vessels in the small boat channel do not have to adhere to these signals but should proceed with caution and not impede shipping in the main channel. The single exception to this is when an exclusion zone for a warship underway has been activated by the Queen’s Harbour Master. During these times all small craft traffic will cease in the harbour entrance during the harbour entry or exit phase.
At night the channel is covered by the Oc. R sector, 324°-330°T, of the Directional WRG light on Fort Blockhouse until close to the harbour entrance. After this the Iso. R 2s sector, 337.5°-345° T, of the Directional WRG light on the dolphin located to the east of Gosport Marina leads up on 341°T through the entrance to the Ballast Beacon.
The channel within the harbour is about a ¼ of a mile wide with a maintained depth of 9.5 metres. Immediately within the entrance Haslar Lake will be seen on the west side of the harbour. It is entered close north of Fort Blockhouse, whilst opposite the Jetties fronting the fort is the extensive Haslar Marina that encompasses the west side of the lake. A ¼ of a mile above this in Cold Harbour is the equally large Gosport Marina and immediately above Royal Clarence Marina .
On the opposite eastern side of the entrance is the Cambers, a tidal basin, that is entered close north of Round Tower. It has a 45 metre wide entrance and provides berths for small ferries and fishing vessels. Gunwharf Quays marina will be seen close above beneath the city’s landmark Spinnaker Tower, which will have been visible throughout the eastern Solent area. Above Gunwharf Quay the naval base occupies a large portion of the harbour’s eastern frontage with Gosport Marina facing it from the opposite western side.
It is not permissible to steer directly for the marina at this point and all vessels must stay in the Boat Channel until the port handed Ballast beacon has been passed. The main fairway may only be crossed when north of the Ballast beacon with permission from Queen's Harbour Master’s port control on VHF Ch. 11. In all cases the Ballast Beacon should be left to port; north-bound vessels leaving it to the west, and south-bound vessels leaving it to the east.
After obtaining permission from the Queen's Harbour Master the main navigation fairway should be crossed at right angles to the north of Ballast Beacon when it is safe to do so. Steer directly for the marina that will be seen under the close south of the Harbour Railway Jetty.
The marina opens to the south adjacent to the southern end of the outer breakwater, that exhibits a light 2F.G (vert) at night, and a sign board on the wall close south. Check all round for car ferry movements in or out of the Town Quay or Cambers before making a final approach. The entrance to the ferry dock, a little over 100 metres south of the marina's entrance, has frequent car ferry movements that maneuver in the approaches to the marina.
Berth as directed by the marina office.
A little over a mile above the entrance the harbour widens out and merges into the Fareham and Porchester lakes, off which branch several smaller lakes. These lakes are bordered by mud banks that cover at high water when the whole space to the north of the dockyard, with the exception of the small central Peewit Island, forms an expanse of water two miles long north and south and the same east and west.
Fareham Lakes has Fareham Marine at its head a distance of 4½ miles above the harbour entrance with Portsmouth Marine Engineering immediately below. The moorings of WicorMarine Yacht Haven are passed in the northwest end of Portsmouth Harbour about 3½ miles above the entrance.
Porchester Lake has the large scale marina complex of Port Solent is located in the northeast corner of the harbour about 4 miles above its entrance and ½ mile northeast of the historic Portchester Castle.
Why visit here?Portsmouth was first noted as Portesmuthan in the late 9th century. This is a conjunction of the Latin word portus, meaning 'a harbour', and mutha meaning ‘mouth’: 'mouth of the harbour called ‘Port'’ which aptly describes its location. Portsea Island, the island that the city largely dominates today, derives its name from the ‘the island by the port’ as in old English an -ea or -ey ending, especially when preceded by a possessive ‘s, typically means ‘island’.
It is believed that the seed for the city was first sewn in 1180 when a wealthy merchant called Jean De Gisors was looking for a safe anchorage for his fleet of merchant ships and a base from which to trade. The Camber, situated in the southwest corner of the island, offered him a perfectly sheltered location and an ideal point from which to trade.
Image: eNil via CC BY SA 2.0
Protected by the Isle of Wight and a narrow easily defended harbour entrance, the strategical location was soon noticed by King Richard I. He had already created several new town foundations in France and, when departing from the small trading base for France, he granted it a borough charter in 1194. In October 1200 King John repeated the grants, and in 1256 Henry III issued a grant for a Gild Merchant in the borough. By the following century, commercial interests had grown and its exports included wool, corn, grain, and livestock. By the thirteenth century, wine from Bayonne and Bordeaux, and wax and iron from France were among the chief imports whilst large quantities of wheat were exported to France and Spain.
During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the town was used as a rendezvous for various expeditions to Normandy, Gascony and Poitou. It was likewise a key target for attack from France and particularly so during the 1337 - 1453 Hundred Years War where Britain and France fought for control of the French throne. A prelude to this came in 1336 when a French fleet attacked the English Channel, ransacked the Isle of Wight and threatened the town. Edward III instructed all maritime towns to build vessels and raise troops to rendezvous at Portsmouth, and to be prepared. Two years later, a French fleet then raided Portsmouth, destroying much of the town. Only the stone-built church and hospital survived. In 1377 the French landed in Portsmouth again, plundering and burning the town, but its inhabitants fought back and defeated them, which led the French to retreat and raid towns in the West Country instead.
Image: Marcin Chady CC BY 2.00
Recognising the town's growing importance, Henry V built Portsmouth’s first permanent fortifications. Shipbuilding had commenced in King Alfred’s time but the first recorded warship was the Sweepstake, built here in 1497 in what is thought by some to be the UK's first dry dock. Henry VII bought 8 acres of land to build the first dry dock in the world in 1495. Although the precise site of the dock is not known it is generally thought to have been about 50 ft. astern of where HMS Victory lies today in No. 2 Dry Dock. In 1509 its most famous ship the Mary Rose, believed to have been named after his sister Mary Tudor, was constructed here. Along with her sister-ship the Sovereign, which was also built here, they were for many years the most powerful vessels in the navy, and quite possibly in the world.
Image: Elliott Brown via CC BY-SA 2.0
The dockyard became increasingly vital to both Henry VII and Henry VIII as they sought to establish a more effective navy. They wanted a permanent body of royal ships which would require non-stop repair and dockyard factories, so Portsmouth and its dockyard became vitally important. Previous kings had navies and then sold off the ships in peacetime, but now there was a much larger number of permanent ships. It was important as England's population was much lower than the big continental powers, and that continued right through to Elizabeth I and the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.
Image: Max Speed via CC ASA 2.0
During the continued reign of the Tudor kings and queens the fortifications were further improved. Cromwell added 2 acres in 1658, and Charles II added 8 in 1663 and 10 more in 1667. Then the Navy grew considerably during the global struggle with France that started in 1690 and culminated in the Napoleonic Wars, a time when the practice of fighting under sail was developed to its highest point. Standing behind this effort was the naval dockyard, that had become Britain’s chief Naval base. By end of the 18th century it had grown to 90 acres, and by 1865 it had trebled in sized 293 acres. The population of the city grew rapidly behind this growth. Between 1801 and 1901 the population had risen to 100,000 and Portsmouth grew and expanded across Portsea Island.
Image: Hugh Llewelyn via CC BY-SA 2.0
Image: Max Speed via CC ASA 2.0
By this time Portsmouth Dockyard directly employed 8,000 men, and those who were not employed by the Navy or the Dockyard where in supporting service industries such as the supply of food and drink. This more than doubled to 23,000 people during the First World War when around 1200 ships were refitted in the dockyard, making it one of the most strategic ports in the empire at the time.
Portsmouth was ineffectually bombed by a Zeppelin airship during the First World War, but the city, and particularly the port, was devastated by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. Between July 1940 and May 1944, the city was hit by 67 air raids which destroyed 6625 houses and severely damaged 6549 of them. The air raids caused 930 deaths and wounded almost 3000 people, many of them in the dockyard and military establishments. On the night of the city's heaviest raid, on 10 January 1941, the Luftwaffe dropped 140 tonnes of high explosive bombs, killing 171 people and leaving 3,000 homeless.
But the bombing did not stop the war effort and Portsmouth Harbour was a vital military embarkation point for the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944. Southwick House, just to the north of the city, was the headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, US General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Extensive areas of the town were redeveloped in the second half of the twentieth century, principally due to the extensive bomb damage. Most of the redevelopment has been for housing. During this time the cities over-reliance on the navy led to serious problems in the local economy. With the decline of the British Empire, shipbuilding jobs fell from 46% of the workforce in 1951 to 14% in 1966, drastically reducing the manpower in the dockyard. In the early 1980s, it was decided that Portsmouth dockyard would be closed. However, Portsmouth City Council won a concession, and rather than face closure, the dockyard was downgraded to a naval base.
Image: ASillyLittleMan via CC ASA 3.0
Modern-day Portsmouth now occupies most of Portsea Island and has subsumed many once separate settlement centres such as Kingston and Fratton, leaving a generally undeveloped strip along the eastern edge of the island. It remains to this day the only UK city on an island, bounded by water on all sides.
Located beneath the iconic Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays Marina offers immediate access to this unique and historic city. Fronting part of what was once was the HMS Vernon naval shore establishment, the entire area was transformed into a twenty-first-century shopping centre in 2001. The finishing piece being the construction of the 168m (552 feet) tall Spinnaker Tower in 2003. Lovers of shopping, dining and relaxing need step no further than Gunwharf Quays waterside centre. It plays host to more than 90 designer stores that oﬀer discount prices on many bands some of which are leading sailing lines.
Image: Michael Harpur
Today many of the city's former defences are now museums or venues for hosting events. But nothing showcases the town’s 800 years of naval history more than Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard just a short stroll from the marina. Home to historic world-class warships this is an absolute must visit for any mariner worth his salt.
Image: Matt Ring via CC BY 2.0
Horatio Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, the world's oldest naval ship still in commission, has been preserved for the nation since 1922 in a permanent dry dock in the yard. In 1971, the remains of Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose, was rediscovered on the seabed. She was raised and brought into a purpose-built structure in the dockyard in 1982. Britain's first iron-hulled warship, HMS Warrior, was restored and moved to Portsmouth in June 1987. HMS M.33 is not only the sole remaining British veteran of the bloody Dardanelles Campaign of 1915-1916, but also of the Russian Civil War which followed. The ship is one of just three British warships from World War I still in existence.
The historic dockyard also contains the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Rightly this is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions and a must for all sailors. If this cannot satiate one's need for naval history there is ample more available via a short ferry ride across the mouth of the harbour to Gosport. These attractions are covered in the Gosport Marina entry .
What facilities are available?All pontoon berths provide electricity and fresh water, free and unlimited Wi-Fi, a first class ablutions block and complimentary laundry service. The marina functions primarily as a berthing marina only, with no onshore support services for yachts.
Gunwharf is located next door to the Hard Interchange, Portsmouth's transport hub which includes Portsmouth Harbour Railway Station, Coach, Bus and Ferry Terminal, and two different South West Trains with direct routes to London Waterloo, via Guildford and via Basingstoke. There is also a South West Trains stopping service to Southampton Central that provides connections to CrossCountry services to Birmingham and Manchester, and a service by Great Western Railway to Cardiff Central via Southampton, Salisbury, Bath and Bristol. Southern also offer services to Brighton, Gatwick Airport, Croydon and London Victoria. Portsmouth offers a host of competing local and provincial bus services.
The port is the second-busiest ferry port in the UK after Dover, handling around three million passengers a year. Portsmouth Harbour has passenger / motorbike ferry links to Gosport and the Isle of Wight from the Portsmouth International Port. A car ferry service to the Isle of Wight operated by Wightlink is nearby. Britain's longest-standing commercial hovercraft service, begun in the 1960s, still runs (for foot passengers) from near Clarence Pier to Ryde, Isle of Wight, operated by Hovertravel. Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port has links to Caen, Cherbourg-Octeville, St. Malo and Le Havre in France, Santander and Bilbao in Spain and the Channel Islands.
The nearest airport is Southampton Airport, situated in the Borough of Eastleigh, which is approximately 20–30 minutes away by motorway, with an indirect South West Trains rail connection requiring a change at Southampton Central or Eastleigh. Heathrow and Gatwick are both about 60–90 minutes away by motorway. Gatwick is directly linked by Southern services to London Victoria, while Heathrow is linked by coach to Woking, which is on both rail lines to London Waterloo, or by tube to either Victoria or Waterloo. Heathrow is directly linked to Portsmouth by National Express coaches.
Any security concerns?The marina has a secure access control system and is monitored by 24-hour CCTV.
With thanks to:Michael Harpur S/Y Whistler. Photography with thanks to Michael Harpur, Ian Stannard, Amanda Retreats, Defence Images, Karen Roe and Tez Goodyer.
Aerial views of the lower harbour area 1
Aerial views of the lower harbour area 2
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Patrick Doherty wrote this review on Jul 4th 2016:
Some really nice restaurants and the Historic dockyard is really worth a visit.Average Rating:
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