Solent Mile Building Passages

Solent Mile Building


Sailing from Southampton gives the Milebuilding Club easy access to the Solent and endless opportunities for club members to develop their skills and awareness. Not every trip is listed here, we schedule sailing every week – all year round – we sail a lot!


Southampton – Lymington – Portland – Lymington – Southampton


Wind: light & variable
Tides: Neaps
Distance covered: around 130 nm

The milebuilding club’s first post-lockdown trip away. Multi-day trips away are considered extra-curricular – our regular thing is day sailing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Milebuilding voyages like this give longer days, more time at the helm and a chance to experience real passage-making.

Four days of light airs meant lots of motoring. The lack of breeze meant we didn’t do much real ‘sailing’, we did however swim (twice, Newtown Creek on the way out and Dancing Ledge on the way back), played with dolphins, saw sharks (small) and witnessed what we take to be the testing of underwater military drones.


Southampton – Ryde – IOW

Wind: 10 – 18kts – SW – WSW

0247 – 4.33m
0809 – 1.16m
1525 – 4.40m
2027 – 1.36m

Destination: – Ryde
Depart Southampton Town Quay: – 0945
Return Southampton Town Quay: – 1845
Distance covered: – 33.1nm

A south westerly breeze gave us a reach down Southampton water and across the Solent. We headed for a sheltered anchorage under the lee of the island – this time opting for a spot just west of Ryde pier. Unseasonably grey weather made soup seem like a sensible option for lunch.

Again the Navionics software proved useful in picking a good spot to anchor – see screen- grab below – and for monitoring our position over lunch – again see the screen grab. We have dragged our anchor a few times and so far have always caught the situation early enough to take remedial action.
Over lunch the wind piped up a bit and blew away the grey so we put in a reef and had a thoroughly enjoyable sail home hitting a maximum speed of over 10 knots, albeit with plenty of help from the tide.


Southampton – Osborne Bay – IOW

Wind: 09 – 15kts – E – E.S.E.
0310 – 4.31m
0833 – 1.28m
1552 – 4.34m
2055 – 1.54m

Destination: – Osborne Bay
Depart Southampton Town Quay: – 0925
Return Southampton Town Quay: – 1845
Distance covered: – 23.6nm

We started the day by sailing close hauled down Southampton Water against the tide.

Once into the Solent we shaped a course that took us roughly along the North channel – all good upwind sailing practice. We turned south at East Bramble cardinal and made our way to Osborne Bay.

We tend to anchor to the east of the main anchorage – just west of the restricted area. We can get closer inshore here which makes for a nice view over lunch – a bit Swallows and Amazons I like to think…

After a morning of upwind sailing it was nice to ease the sheets on the way home and romp across the Solent and up Southampton Water.

We were back quite early so we headed on to the container docks and then beat back again in a failing breeze. A great day out, plenty of variety and a lot of ground covered.


 Scrub Day

Thunderbolt gets her bottom spruced up

Monday was scrub day. We had the maintenance grid booked at the RAF yacht club, paint, rollers, anodes and willing volunteers. We were on the grid by 1130 and waited for the tide to drop – and waited and… well it is the Solent.

Drying out Thunderbolt is always interesting as she has a tendency to settle at the stern. Lines have to be rigged from the primary winches forward to substantial cleats onshore keep her level. Once the tide had dropped the hull wasn’t too bad at all but a blast off with the club’s pressure washer had it squeaky clean.

Many hands made light work of masking the waterline and rolling on a couple of tins of anti fouling paint. We also changed the hull anode and all was looking good. While waiting for the tide to return we hauled out our anchor cable onto the RAF yacht club lawn and fitted little plastic markers at 5m intervals. The original chain calibration wore away aeons ago so judging the amount of cable to use when anchoring has always been a case of ‘plenty – plus a bit for luck’ (a variation on ‘if in doubt – let more out’) which works but is a bit un-scientific for a training boat.

After far too much pizza (thanks Rick) most club members disappeared off home. Two of us stayed behind to await high tide. We floated at about 2330 and made it back to Southampton for around 0100. Huge thanks to Steve, Rick, Norm and Peter for their time, energy and enthusiasm.


Southampton – Newtown Creek – IOW

Wind: 10 – 16kts – SW

0313 – 1.53
1022 – 4.09
1528 – 1.38
2245 – 4.39

Destination: Newtown Creek
Depart Southampton Town Quay: 0935
Return Southampton Town Quay: 1845
Maximum speed: – 10.7kts
Distance covered: – 33.2nm

A lovely day-sail to Newtown Creek – one of our favourite places on the Solent.
A reach down Southampton water was followed by a beat into the western Solent before dropping the sails and motoring into the creek and anchoring for lunch.
This is one of those situations where modern GPS navigation makes life easier and safer. We conned the boat in using an iPad in the cockpit running Navionics software. The ability to zoom right in and pick a route through the shallow bits is just priceless.
Coming home was all off-the-wind stuff – nice easy post-lunch sailing. Days like this are of huge value when building skills – we sailed every point of sail, dealt with Solent tides, lots of traffic, demanding pilotage and selecting a suitable anchorage in a crowded spot.


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