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Gull Island

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Overview





Gull Island is situated on England's south coast a mile within the River Beaulieu. The river is entered from the western Solent whereupon it commences its meandering path through the New Forest. Set in the first reach, it offers ten visitor moorings and the only permissible anchoring location in a remote and secluded part of the river.

Set within the Solent and the River Beaulieu, Gull Island offers good seaway protection if little in the way of air cover. With developed easterly conditions it is exposed to a large eastern fetch that will be particularly felt on the river's short sharp ebb. In a developed south-easterly, that carries an added scend upriver, it is untenable on the ebb. Although the river has a moderately shallow sandbar that requires some consideration, access is straightforward night or day.
Please note

The River Beaulieu is best avoided by newcomers in developed southwesterly conditions of F5 or above. In these conditions breakers are possible and the acute turn to port in the entrance may be challenging.The river has strong currents and a vessel will be tide-rode.




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Keyfacts for Gull Island
Facilities
Slipway available


Nature
Remote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 4 or more from ESE, SE, SSE, S, SSW and SW.Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged

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
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
July 17th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Slipway available


Nature
Remote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 4 or more from ESE, SE, SSE, S, SSW and SW.Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged



 + 44 1590 616200      river@beaulieu.co.uk     beaulieuriver.co.uk/      Ch.68 [Beaulieu River Patrol]
Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 46.767' N, 001° 23.411' W

This is the position of the moorings off Gull Island in the first length of the river.

What is the initial fix?

The following Beaulieu River entrance will set up a final approach:
50° 46.585' N, 001° 21.390' W
This is set on the 324° T transit adjacent to the Yellow Buoy Fl.Y 4s (Mar - Oct) that sets up the ideal approach to the Beaulieu Dolphin and thence to the entrance.


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.

  • Approaches and the run up the Beaulieu River are covered in the Bucklar's Hard Click to view haven entry.

  • Anchor on the south side of the river between the port red No. 12 pile and the port red No. 24 pile. Two visitor mooring are situated close north of the red No. 12 pile.



Not what you need?
Try our Advanced Havens Search tool to find locations with the specific attributes you need, or click the 'Next', coastal clockwise, or 'Previous', coastal anti-clockwise, buttons to progress through neighbouring havens. Below are the ten nearest havens to Gull Island for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Gins Farm - 0.6 miles WNW
  2. Buckler's Hard - 1.1 miles NW
  3. Thorness Bay - 1.5 miles SSE
  4. Newtown River Entrance - 2 miles SSW
  5. Newtown River - 2.1 miles S
  6. Cowes Harbour - 2.2 miles ESE
  7. Ashlett - 2.2 miles NE
  8. Cowes Yacht Haven - 2.3 miles ESE
  9. Shepards Wharf - 2.4 miles ESE
  10. East Cowes Marina - 2.5 miles ESE
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Gins Farm - 0.6 miles WNW
  2. Buckler's Hard - 1.1 miles NW
  3. Thorness Bay - 1.5 miles SSE
  4. Newtown River Entrance - 2 miles SSW
  5. Newtown River - 2.1 miles S
  6. Cowes Harbour - 2.2 miles ESE
  7. Ashlett - 2.2 miles NE
  8. Cowes Yacht Haven - 2.3 miles ESE
  9. Shepards Wharf - 2.4 miles ESE
  10. East Cowes Marina - 2.5 miles ESE
Alternatively the above can be ordered by compass direction or coastal sequence


Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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How to get in?


Gull Island is situated in the lower section of the Beaulieu River about a mile above its entrance and below Needs Oar Point. It provides an anchorage and visitor moorings behind the low lying island that is awash on high water Springs.


Convergance Point The Solent and Isle of Wight Route location coastal description and the Bucklar's Hard Click to view haven entry provide details on the approaches and the run up the river.


Haven location The Harbour Master has also laid ten visitor moorings close north of the red No. 22 pile that may be freely picked up. They are clearly marked V1 to V10, with V1 - V6, and V8 capable of taking vessels up to 14 metres, all the rest being more suited to vessels of 7 metres. All the moorings carry more than 3 metres of water. Mooring fees are £10 (2017) per night.

It is permissible to anchor in the lower reaches of the Beaulieu River below the moorings and between the port red No. 12 pile, Fl.R.4s, and the port red No. 24 pile situated close north of Needs Ore Point. Vessels should anchor on the south side of the channel and the better protection will usually be found further upstream closer to Needs Ore Point. Excellent mud holding will be found throughout this area. Nevertheless, make certain to dig the anchor well in as the currents run strong.




In all cases, a fee will be collected as the Beaulieu River is one of the UK’s very few private rivers. Downriver of No. 24 pile and Needs Ore Point the fee is the same regardless of the size of the vessel, if on anchor or if the moorings are picked up. The anchoring fee, as of 2017, is £6.00 per night and it will be collected by the river staff who come downriver in their launch.

No anchoring is permitted above Needs Ore Point where visitors must pick up a mooring by arrangement with the harbour master and normal river mooring fees apply.

The Beaulieu River Sailing Club is not suitable for landing but it is possible to run up the river to Bucklers Hard with a stalwart engine.
Please note

Under no circumstances should any landing take place on the protected Natural England wildlife sanctuary of Gull Island.




Why visit here?
Gull Island derives its name from a Black-Headed Gull colony that once nested here. At one time the island’s Spartina grass was home to up to 12,000 pairs of breeding birds. Severe erosion, however, reduced the island's size that has caused the large-scale decline of the colony. Half of its land mass has been recorded as lost, between the years 1953 and 1992 alone.




At this time there was a small boat channel between the island and Needs Ore Point providing a short cut between The Solent and the river. The cut was created by Charles Bull in 1726-27 and was known as the ‘Swatchway’ or `Bull's Run'. It provided a particularly convenient pathway for boats passing in and out of the Exbury River Quay. The drying quay can be seen from the anchoring area within the Exbury Marshes on the northern banks of the river Beaulieu.




The cut was subsequently closed in 1986 by a Special Act of Parliament targeted at protecting Gull Island from continuing erosion. In 1992 a shingle beach was engineered to connect Gull Island with the western mainland, technically making the ‘island’ a ‘spit’. This closed the last remains of the old channel and since it has been completed the erosion of Gull Island’s is said to be greatly reduced. The channel has left a readily recognisable bight and a narrow shale causeway linking Gull Island to the mainland. The oval shaped land mass that remains of Gull Island is now a nature reserve for colonies of nesting seabirds. It is entirely closed to the public and no landings are permitted on Gull Island or the Warren Shore.




Today Needs Ore Point is the base of the local Beaulieu River Sailing Club who sail Scows, a gaff rigged dinghy, and lasers. Their dingy races take place in this part of the river. Apart from that, all there is to be found there is very much the same as what would have been encountered by the thirteenth-century monks who named the river. For here the Beaulieu River’s ancient woodland of oak and beech naturally gives way to a tidal salt marsh, reed beds, mud flats and shale beach. Gull Island’s banks play host to a variety of flora and fauna. In the distance, horses will be seen lazily grazing meadows. Apart from that, and a few very distant man made structures, there is nothing here that is not of nature.




From a sailing perspective, Gull Island offers a highly convenient and well-sheltered berth in the River Beaulieu and a complete escape from The Solent’s hustle and bustle. In all respects, it is not unlike the Newtown Creek Nature Reserve on the opposite Isle of Wight shore. Like Newtown Creek, Gull Island is a perfect location on a calm evening to bring a vessel up and let it sleep on its chain immersed in the tranquillity of a completely natural environment.




Tactically, with the entrance lit at night and the moderately deep sand bar being reasonably accommodating, Gull Island also makes an excellent central staging ground from which to make a jump to any part of The Solent. It is likewise the better option for those coming in at night and intending on berthing at Buckler's Hard. Because the river is unlit beyond Gull Island and full of moored boats and unattended buoys thereafter, it is best to bed down here and wait for daylight to proceed upriver, especially so on dark moonless nights.


What facilities are available?
There are no facilities here. Buckler's Hard, further upriver, can cater for almost any boating requirement and offers basic provisions.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel in the Beaulieu River.


With thanks to:
Mike Nicholls, previous Beaulieu River Harbour Master, and Wendy Stowe current Beaulieu River Harbour Master.


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