Sailing from Portland to the Isle of Wight, our first passage through the Needles Channel, and mixed impressions of the Solent.

to solent

27 July 2019

02:00 Departure in darkness under engine. At least there’s no fog and we can see where we are going. Wind B3-4 SW.

03:30 We’re out of the harbour, pointing east, and making way under sail.

06:00 Making reasonable way, even though the wind is lighter than it was earlier. We turn on the engine to help get by St Alban’s Ledge.

10:30 Just 10 miles from Needles, and already there’s quite a bit of sail traffic around. A few boats have their spinnakers up – but we’re not brave enough for that just yet.


16:30 If it’s going to go wrong, it will do so at exactly the wrong moment. The genoa decided to twist round on itself as we entered the Needles Channel, and several frantic moments were spent fighting with what felt like several tonnes of wet sail to get it round the forestay and lashed in place. Thank goodness for engines – we made it into the Solent.

17:00 Arriving Cowes

20:00 Tied up on random pontoon and took excellent water taxi into town to get proper food. Least said about this place the better.

28 July 2019

10:00 We’ve decided to motor back round to Yarmouth, fix the furling issue there, and stay for a couple of days. Cowes certainly didn’t impress.

13:00 Approaching Yarmouth. This being a beautiful summer day the Solent is rammed with all kinds of boats and they all seem to operate under their own version of Colregs. Had to take avoiding action as we passed through several regattas.

14:30 Yarmouth is fantastic! Such a contrast with busy, surly Cowes. We were met by berthing officer who escorted us to a nice, calm pontoon, got a very friendly welcome in the office and gazed in complete awe upon the bathroom facilities. Not cheap at GBP 27 per night (though it was the middle of summer, and it looks like Yarmouth could be very competitive as a permanent south-coast base), but not the most expensive we’ve been in either.

yarmouth mooring

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