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Solent Sailing Scenes | First edition

Solent Sailing Scenes | First edition

In this four-part series we’re looking out what you can actually see from out on the waters of the Solent.

For those of you not familiar the Solent is the body of water between the South of England and the Isle of Wight. This body of water has been synonymous with sailing for centuries and makes excellent sailing ground with the waves generally being less than you would expect for the prevailing wind speed, lots of amazing harbours and marinas to visit and if you’re learning to sail it offers most forms of shapes, lights and traffic you could wish to see!

For most people Cowes is the epicenter of the Solent where in the summer you have the famous Cowes Week Regatta, plus the less famous but even busier (with over 1500 yachts taking part) the annual Round the Island Race, plus many many more!

However there is a lot more to see besides…this week we’ll focus on where we start our sailing days in Portsmouth Harbour.

  • Since the middle ages Portsmouth Harbour has been host to the countries Navy, due to the entrance being partially protected by the Isle of Wight. On the east side of the harbour lies Portsea Island upon which is the city of Portsmouth. On the west side lies Gosport and the physical base for Clipper Events and Clipper Race. At the north end of the harbour lies Portchester Castle which incidentally was the first fortress to be built to protect the harbour.

  • One of the first sights and the obvious sign of where you are, from land or sea, is the impressiveSpinnaker Tower. She was built in 2005 and forms part of the Gunwharf Quays complex where you will meet your crew and yacht.

  • Once you are on board and ready to head out into the Solent take a look north and you will see the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. This is home to some of Britain’s most treasured ships, including HMS Warrior built in 1860 and was the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet. Powered by steam and sail, she was the largest, fastest and most powerful warship of her day and had a lasting influence on naval architecture and design. If you take the train you can see her clearly from the station entrance. More currently you may also see the HMS Queen Elizabeth who is still going through her operational trials.

  • Looking forwards again as you pass through the entrance to the harbour look to your left and you’ll see Old Portsmouth, an area that used to be known as Spice Island this is where the spices used to enter the city from far flung places.

  • On the opposing side, to your right, is Fort Blockhouse, there has been something on this site since 1431 in response to the burning of Portsmouth during the Hundred Years’ War. It is a unique site for two reasons. Firstly that is was built over a number of centuries and secondly it is believe to be the oldest fortified position that is still in active military use in the UK.

  • I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. Next time we’ll look at some of the first things you’ll see once you’re in the Solent!