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Stokes Bay

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Overview





Stokes Bay is situated on the south coast of England, close south of Gosport and overlooking The Solent. It is a secluded anchorage off a long shingle beach that features an active dinghy sailing club.

Stokes Bay is a well-protected anchorage in any strong northerly component winds. However it is somewhat susceptible to an uncomfortable roll that makes it just tolerable as an anchorage. Daytime access is straightforward as there is only one moderately deep obstacle to avoid on approaches.



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Keyfacts for Stokes Bay
Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterSailing Club baseSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: Can be subject to wash from commercial vesselsNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
3 stars: Tolerable; in suitable conditions a vessel may be left unwatched and an overnight stay.



Last modified
July 17th 2018

Summary

A tolerable location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterSailing Club baseSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: Can be subject to wash from commercial vesselsNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration



Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 46.751' N, 001° 9.554' W

This is offshore of the Stokes Bay Sailing Club.

What is the initial fix?

The following will set up a final approach:
50° 46.230' N, 001° 9.950' W
This is positioned about a ½ mile out from the shore on the 46° T alignment of the Stokes Bay Sailing Club flagpole with the square tower of Alverstoke Church that stands a ⅓ of a mile behind.


What are the key points of the approach?

The entry and the run-up thorough The Solent and Southampton Water are covered in
The Solent and Isle of Wight Route location coastal description.

  • Come in on the 46°T alignment of the Stokes Bay Sailing Club flagpole with the square tower of Alverstoke Church.

  • Break off within the 5 metre contour and anchor according to draft and conditions.



Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Stokes Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Haslar Marina - 1.1 miles ENE
  2. Royal Clarence Marina - 1.2 miles NE
  3. Gosport Marina - 1.2 miles NE
  4. Gunwharf Quays Marina - 1.3 miles ENE
  5. Hardway Sailing Club - 1.5 miles NNE
  6. Ryde Roads - 1.6 miles SSW
  7. Ryde Harbour - 1.7 miles S
  8. Wootton Creek (Fishbourne) - 2.1 miles SW
  9. WicorMarine Yacht Haven - 2.3 miles N
  10. Osborne Bay - 2.4 miles WSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Haslar Marina - 1.1 miles ENE
  2. Royal Clarence Marina - 1.2 miles NE
  3. Gosport Marina - 1.2 miles NE
  4. Gunwharf Quays Marina - 1.3 miles ENE
  5. Hardway Sailing Club - 1.5 miles NNE
  6. Ryde Roads - 1.6 miles SSW
  7. Ryde Harbour - 1.7 miles S
  8. Wootton Creek (Fishbourne) - 2.1 miles SW
  9. WicorMarine Yacht Haven - 2.3 miles N
  10. Osborne Bay - 2.4 miles WSW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
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How to get in?


Stokes Bay is situated on the mainland side of the eastern entrance to The Solent about 1½ miles within Spithead and close south of Gosport. The bay is located in a slight indentation on the coastline that lies between Gilkicker Point and Browndown Point situated 1¾ miles northwest. It is fronted by a long shingle beach that is home to an active sailing club and the headquarters for the Gosport & Fareham Inshore Rescue Services. The small settlement of Alverstoke, adjoining the town of Gosport, is situated close by inshore.




Convergance Point The Solent and Isle of Wight Route location coastal description provides approach details. Vessels converging on the entrance will find nothing in the way of local hazards by staying in reasonable soundings and following The Solent’s ample marks. The direction of buoyage in the eastern Solent is from east to west. The prominent Gilkicker Point readily identifies the bay from all directions of approach.





Western Approach Vessels hugging the shoreline and approaching from the west should stand well off Lee Point. It has a gravel spit which extends a ¼ of a mile offshore with an unlit green pile marking its extremity. A seasonal racing buoy, positioned about 400 metres westward of the pile, provides a good mark for the 5 metre contour.

The shoreline beyond Lee Point remains shallow or drying out to 300 metres as it leads past Browndown Point into Stokes Bay. The northwest end of Stokes Bay is marked by a green pile that marks the head of an outflow pipe.




South Eastern Approach A useful line of bearing for vessels approaching from the southeast is to keep Gilkicker Point and Horse Sand Fort in-line. This keeps a vessel between the 5 and 2 metre contours and clear of the obstructions.

Vessels choosing to hug the shoreline closely should stand out from the area immediately south of the Gosport & Fareham Inshore Rescue Services Headquarters that is located on the beach about ⅓ of a mile northwest of Gilkicker Point. This area is foul with the remains of a pier that once belonged to a 19th Century railway line. It is marked by a conical yellow buoy positioned about 30 metres outside the foul area.


South Western Approach Approaches from the southwest are clear except for a single charted wreck. This lies in 8 metres of water with a charted clearance depth of 1.4 metres and is located ⅓ of a mile southwest of the Stokes Bay Sailing Club. This is thought to be part of an old lighter Duddon that sank here in 1924. In all cases staying just within the buoyage, or locally a ½ mile offshore or on the 10 metre contour, clears all dangers.






Initial fix location The initial fix is positioned about 1,300 metres east of the Browndown starboard buoy that exhibits a light Fl(2) G.10s. The initial fix is set about a ½ mile out from the shore on the 46°T alignment of the Stokes Bay Sailing Club flagpole, with the square tower of Alverstoke Church that stands a ⅓ of a mile behind. Following this alignment passes 100 metres northwest of the obstruction and on into the bay. It is safe to break off from the transit when the 5 metre contour has been passed.

The bay is popular with bathers, kite-surfers, small dinghies and fishermen. To accommodate all users local byelaws require special care to be taken by vessels operating within 805 metres of the shore. Stokes Bay Sailing Club have laid a line of yellow buoys about 50 metres out from the shore and vessels should not pass inside the line of these buoys.




Haven location Anchor according to draft anywhere off the beach in fine sand. Land on the shingle beach by tender.


Why visit here?
Stokes Bay derives its name from the old English word stoc meaning an outlying settlement, hamlet or farmstead. Any ancient settlement that existed here until the Middle Ages would have been aptly described as such. But by then, set on a pivotal point on the approaches to The Solent and the western flank of Portsmouth Harbour, the area’s strategic military position had become its central feature.




This small unassuming bay is steeped in three centuries of military and naval history. Its military focus initially centred on it providing the ideal landing area from which an enemy could attack the western approach to Portsmouth Harbour. Defensive measures to counter this exposure date back to the 1780s. At that time a series of small fortified positions, referred to as ’redoubts’, were constructed above the beach. The key cornerstone forts of Fort Gilkicker and Browndown Battery, flanking either end of the bay, were to come a century later during the Victorian period.




Fort Gilkicker was the first large scale fort to be constructed on Stokes Bay although it started as an auxiliary battery to Fort Monckton in the 1790s. The initial auxiliary battery consisted of an earthen rampart surrounding eleven gun emplacements that fired through embrasures cut through the parapets. The later more substantive Fort Gilkicker was constructed on the site between 1863 and 1871 as part of the historic Palmerston defensive build up. It was one of six forts which ran from Stokes Bay to Fareham, which along with the three offshore forts, made Portsmouth the most important deep sea anchorage in the British Empire, and the most strongly defended place in the world.




Fort Gilkicker had 22 gun emplacements and it dominated the Spithead anchorage. Its walls were further strengthened with substantial earthwork embankments before the First World War, in which it served. It went on to protect Portsmouth from air attacks during World War II and was the signal station that co-ordinated the repair and the supply of stores for the numerous craft that were to assemble in the Isle of Wight area prior to D-Day. It was finally stood down in 1956 when Coastal Defence was finally abolished.


The original Browndown Batteries, known as ‘Browndown Battery East’ and ‘Browndown Battery West’, were built in 1852. Both batteries consisted of prepared positions with movable guns behind earthen parapets. The need for heavy guns to protect the deep water anchorage off Browndown Point resulted in the eastern battery being demolished, and in 1888 the western one being reconstructed as the new ‘Browndown Battery’ that is seen today. The battery was then continuously modified until it was disarmed in 1906. It then remained within the perimeter of Browndown army training camp until it too was also closed in 2009.


The small bay was to play an enormous role in the D-Day landings. It was closed to the public from May 1942 and used for the secret ‘Phoenix’ construction of large reinforced concrete caissons. The 1942 Dieppe Raid made it clear to the Allies that they could not rely on capturing a French beach to land the thousands of tonnes of vehicles, goods and men required to support a successful invasion. The solution was to build prefabricated harbours that could be taken across the channel and assembled as required. The concrete caissons were to be the building blocks of what would become the ‘Mulberry Harbours’. These were enormous hollow chambered concrete structures of six different types. The largest of the Phoenixes, the ‘A1’ type, had a displacement of 6,044 tons, was 60ft high, 204ft in length and 56ft 3ins in breadth, formed of concrete. Their hollow chambers enable the structures to float and be towed by a tug boat. These could then be assembled in lines in the target location where they were then flooded and sunk in a controlled manner. These then provided the breakwaters of what would be the ‘Mulberry Harbours’.


Construction of the caissons took place in many places along the south coast of England but Stokes Bay was one of the principal sites for the development, testing and building of the component parts of the ‘Mulberry Harbours’. Fourteen ‘B2’ the second largest type caissons were constructed in the bay by 1,600 men who worked round the clock between November 1943 and April 1944. Each ‘B2’ was 203ft 6ins long, 44ft wide and 35ft high. They were divided into 22 compartments in two rows of eleven separated by dividing concrete walls 10ft thick at intervals of 16ft. Once completed, the caissons were towed to Dungeness and Selsey until required, where they were partially submerged to hide them from enemy aircraft. After the Normandy beach heads were taken, the component parts were towed across the channel and sunk to form the breakwaters that replaced the initial 'Gooseberry' block ships. Two harbours were built in total: ‘Mulberry A’ was constructed at ‘Omaha Beach’ and ‘Mulberry B’ at Gold. Enough old ships and concrete caissons were sunk in lines to eventually provide 6 miles of breakwater with each harbour requiring 140,000 tonnes of concrete. The harbours enabled the allies to rapidly offload cargo onto beaches, playing a vital part in the success of the invasion.





After work finished on the caissons at Stokes Bay, the bay went on to play a direct part in the invasion itself. On the run up to the invasion tank regiments were trained in the use of special floating ‘Duplex Drive ‘swimming tanks' in the west end of Stokes Bay. The tanks were parked on concrete standings on the site of the modern mobile home park. As the invasion approached the beach was hardened at four points with concrete mats, which due to their appearance were known as ‘Chocolate Blocks’. Dolphins were constructed to secure landing craft immediately offshore and walkways were built to form jetties for the foot soldiers to embark onto the landing craft. The Stokes Bay Sailing Club building was originally constructed to be the ‘Loading Control Centre’ for the D-Day embarkations.




Things are very much quieter in Stokes Bay today. The Stokes Bay Sailing Club that had just formed in the year before the war, took control of the solid two-storey D-Day embarkation building in 1946. A decade later all the bay’s military defensive buildings were all closed. Browndown army training camp continued until it too was also closed in 2009. Being close to the Marchwood Military Port the beach below the Browndown Battery is still occasionally used for amphibious warfare training. Apart from that Stokes Bay is largely given over to leisure.




From a sailing point of view it is subject to a roll that makes it an unlikely choice for a comfortable night. However for a family boat, those interested in touching down on three centuries of military history, or those searching for a tide wait or lunch stop, it is ideal.


What facilities are available?
The beach has three slipways all with lips that need negotiating. The beach has a cafe, restaurants and a variety of beach shops. Public toilets, including a disabled toilet, are available. There is a ‘One Stop’ convenience store in Alverstoke village, approximately a five minute’s walk from the club. The shop has an instore cash machine. Alverstoke village also has a Fish & Chip shop and a Chinese take-away. A large Asda, Waitrose and Morrisons supermarkets can be found off Stoke Road in Gosport.

Trains from Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour take about 1½ to 2 hours, and then the Gosport Ferry from the station takes about 5 minutes to Gosport Bus Station. An infrequent bus service can be found to Stokes Bay or alternatively, being a distance of 3.2 KM (2 miles), a taxi would shorten the time.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel anchored off Stokes Bay.


With thanks to:
Marion Shirley S/Y East Breeze, Tony Firth, Port Solent Yacht Club. Photography Barry Skeates and Michael Harpur.


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