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Coastal Overview for The Solent and the Isle of Wight

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What is the route?
This is the primary coastal description for The Solent, Southampton Waters, rivers Test and Itchen and the shores of the Isle of Wight. It also provides approaches, a route up through these waters to the river mouths, both west and east around the Isle, and a tide times for the Needles Channel.

Detailed coastal descriptions are intended to be read alongside local area charts so that the key considerations may be noted and pencilled in well in advance. The intention is not only to make passages safer, by highlighting coastal dangers, but also to make them more enjoyable by unavailing all the Havens along the way so that the occasional coastal gem might not be overlooked.

The waypoints are sequenced from west to east and commence at the western approach to The Solent. From there they proceed clockwise to Southampton Docks returning to exit to the east of the Isle of Wight as follows:

  • • Approaches to the Needles Channel from the ‘Whis Fairway’ buoy, presenting the channel's flood and ebb tides

  • • Eastward along the north or mainland shore of the western Solent

  • • North-westward along the western shoreline of Southampton Water to Dock Head

At Southampton Dock Head, marking the junction of the River Test and the River Itchen, the waypoints turn back to illustrate an eastern approach, passing:

  • • South-eastward along the eastern shore of Southampton Water

  • • Entering the northeast side of the North Channel and onward to Spithead

  • • Close southwest of No Mans Land Fort via the leisure craft passage

  • • Around Foreland close outside east of the 'Bembridge Ledge' east cardinal mark

  • • Close inside the 'W Princessa' west cardinal mark

Although the waypoints detail pathways up through The Solent the text of the coastal descriptions also detail The Isle of Wight which is broken into sections and described, for the most part, in an anticlockwise fashion.

Why sail this route?
The Solent’s waters have many delights for visiting boatmen. The stretch of water provides access to the ports of Southampton, Portsmouth, Cowes and a host of other pretty fishing ports, rivers and estuaries that provide a host of berthing opportunities. There is a wealth of boating related activities in its many destinations and is home to many key sailing events, such as Cowes Week, in August, and the Southampton International Boat Show in September.

Tidal overview
Today's summary tidal overview for this route as of Monday, January 27th at 00:33. Calculating the correct time to enter The Solent from the west is essential. At the narrowest point of the entrance, between Hurst Point and Fort Albert, tidal streams attain a mid-channel flow of up to 3.9kn on the flood and 4.4 kn on the ebb. Fortunatly, The Solent flood lasts for about nine hours and the ebb between three and a half to four hours. So short, sharp ebbs and longer periods of favourable tides on approaches can be expected.

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