Up the Creek - South Coast
Hamble River, Southampton Water
The River Hamble is one of the largest leisure harbours in the United Kingdom and Hampshire County Council has been Harbour Authority for the River Hamble since 1969. The harbour area includes the whole of the tidal river, from outside the river mouth (just south of No 1 pile) to Botley Mill. The Harbour Authority has an overall duty to protect the use of the harbour for the shipping of goods and passengers and to ensure navigational safety. These responsibilities cover all manner of craft and activities from commercial vessels and fishing vessels, through to canoes and windsurfers. The Harbour Authority also has statutory responsibility for many designated environmental sites within the River which must be protected and maintained. Users should read and understand the River Hamble Harbour Authority Bylaws and also Notices to River Users.
First of all I will not bore you with all of those expensive, characterless marinas all the way up the Hamble river on both sides nor how to get there. Suffice to say make your way to the Swanwick Marina end, lately taken over by Premier, and either drop anchor, pick up a buoy in one of the many out-of-the-way moorings or an unused pontoon but ensure it’s a safe mooring. Beware of the Harbourmaster and the possibility of Harbour Dues or the return of the mooring holder. Make full use of the dinghy this time with outboard, spare fuel and oars (just in case) heading upstream. There are many Sailing Clubs on route and all welcome visitors but you may well find it more convenient to moor in one of the marinas in their locality or should you be lucky one of the public pontoons. There’s alot to see and visit this end of the Hamble. Try the Jolly Sailor pub opposite Swanwick Marina, mooring the dinghy on the shore side of their jetty, not the sea side as this is used by the Ferry and larger vessels as a drop off point. Made famous by Howard's Way the Jolly Sailor also deserves to be famous as a genuinely excellent pub. This is a world famous venue and mariners are advised to study the tide tables before arranging a long stay with the publican for mooring. This pub has it all. Decent beer, very good food (but don't expect usual pub prices), great outdoor seating area by the river for warm summer evenings, great fireplace for cold winters and friendly staff. Also a great combination of modernity (comedy tapes playing in the loos) and history (timber beams, uneven floor etc). Pass by Elephant Boatyard, again made famous by Howard's Way, then Deacons Boatyard with Aladdins Cave Chandlery HQ (now Force 4) on the banks. Follow under the 3 bridges and onwards for an interesting ride of about 2 miles in open waters taking about ¾ hour to the Horse & Jockey pub at Curbridge, mooring on their landing stage at the bottom of the garden. Make sure you get the tide right for your return passage as I couldn’t think of a worse place to get marooned in? Seriously though, they serve good ales and food. Beware the outboard propeller getting caught in the weeds and reeds either side of the river on this stage and the wash of the occasional motor boat remembering that larger vessels usually have a Depth Sounder to find the middle of the river, and dinghy’s don’t. Also on this stretch are more ducks, swans and geese rather than smaller birds. Should you not wish to passage far in the dinghy then walk the short distance to the first road bridge (A27) where you will find a choice of pubs some worthy of a meal and ale. The Spinnaker on Bridge Road (opposite side to marina) will do a full monty breakfast that is by all accounts the best in the area. They also serve good meals and ale. There, work that one out then.