The Yacht Set
Yacht charter in the Solent
We offer a number of charter cruises from day trips to week long charter holidays on the UK South Coast.
Discovering the Solent
Mecca of English yachting, the Solent is a legendary boating area, especially around Cowes and its racing scene. Probably a quarter of a million boats are moored between Southampton, Hurst Point, the Isle of Wight and Chichester Harbour. These are the most popular cruising waters in the UK, with over 30 marinas and many smaller facilities at boatyards and clubs.
Most South Coast boat owners take the Solent for granted. It is simply there, with all the familiar havens ready and waiting to be visited practically all year round. Yet many British boaters have never explored the Solent, particularly those who keep their boats much further north in equally attractive parts of the country. So for those who may hanker after a Solent cruise but have never quite got around to it, a charter can be just the ticket.
Charterers can take a day trip from the Hamble river to the isle of white and the needles, take a long weekend to Dorset or join their yacht for a week’s holiday at the weekend and return to the Hamble the following weekend following a cruise of the Solent and Dorset. This allows plenty of time to visit some of the Solent’s best-known harbours, perhaps starting with Cowes on Monday after a lazy lunch at anchor in Osborne Bay. One of the West Cowes marinas keeps you near the waterfront action and close to chic shops, pubs and restaurants, or carry on up the Medina River to a calm rural berth opposite the Folly Inn. Next day you might head west to Yarmouth via Newtown Creek, or maybe over to Lymington for the salty atmosphere of this gentle Hampshire harbour.
The Beaulieu River shouldn’t be missed and you canberth at Bucklers Hard (pictured above) near the Master Builder’s bar and restaurant. Portsmouth is ideal for a sociable last night, either at Haslar Marina on the Gosport side or lively Gunwharf Quays near Old Portsmouth. Back at the Hamble, there is a great choice of pubs and restaurants.
Places To Go – The Solent
The Solent is home to a plethora of vibrant sailing towns and villages. From the sailing mecca of Cowes to the breathtaking views of Beaulieu River, there are plenty of interesting places to sail to up and down this famous stretch of water between mainland Britain and the Isle of Wight. Here is our guide for where to go sailing in the Solent.
Cowes – Isle of White
No cruise in the Solent is complete without a visit to Cowes, located in the centre of the north coast of the Isle of Wight. The sailing mecca of the UK and home to the world renowned COWES WEEK regatta which attracts over 1000 yachts and 8000 competitors, Cowes is a yachtsman’s haven with multiple marinas, modern facilities and plenty to see and do ashore.
Cowes Yacht Haven is at the heart of the town or if you want easy access to East Cowes, head to Shepards Wharf. Both marinas offer good quality facilities but can get busy at peak times so pre-booking is recommended.
Visit Cowes High street to enjoy an interesting mix of independent boutique shops as well as popular active lifestyle and nautical brands such as Joules, Musto, Fat Face, Henri Lloyd and White Stuff. Plus, indulge in a variety of friendly pubs, bars and restaurants offering everything from gastro cuisine and wood fired pizza to classic fish and chips and traditional indian curries.
A walk along Cowes Parade offers stunning panoramic views of the Solent and ‘The Green’ is a perfect spot to rest tired legs, watch the comings and goings of the boats afloat and, dependent on the weather, enjoy a delicious ice cream or hot chocolate.
Furthermore, there are good bus links from Cowes town centre and lots of taxis on standby if you want to head further afield and explore some of the beautiful countryside and beaches that the Isle of Wight has to offer.
No trip to the Isle of Wight would be complete without a visit to the Needles.
The Needles Lighthouse on the Isle of Wight is an impressive sight. It stands boldly at the end of the outermost chalk stack where the weather sweeps in from the west, with howling gales and lashing rain.
Originally this lighthouse had a keeper and three assistants. The men were on duty for two months and then on leave for one month, with three men on duty at the lighthouse at any one time. Sadly, the lighthouse was automated in 1994 and we said goodbye to the keeper and his assistants. In spite of the presence of the lighthouse, the Needles have always constituted a danger to shipping – over the years many ships have floundered on or near these rocks.
colwell bay and The hut
The Hut is an easy-going beach restaurant that delivers an unrivalled passion for simple yet delicious food, in a relaxed, beach-front location with stunning views.
Serving delicious fresh seafood and grilled meats in an alfresco and buzzy atmosphere, the Hut creates a unique dining experience which is informal but unforgettable.
The Hut makes its guests feel like they have gone on holiday when they have just gone out for lunch.
Situated right on the water’s edge of the charming Colwell Bay, The Hut is an easy-going beach restaurant that boasts an unrivalled passion for simple yet delicious food in a relaxed and stylish environment. Famous for its lively lunches and dinners, stunning location and breathtaking views ‘The Private Dining Room’ is the ultimate beachside private dining experience.
The Private Dining Room is capable of seating up to 26 guests on a raised deck overlooking the restaurant and stunning views of the beach. Equipped with a retractable roof and windows, and if needed, heating
This restaurant was amazing friendly staff and the food was amazing. I had the lobster and it’s the first ever lobster I’ve ever had. It blew my mind. Would highly recommend this restaurant! it’s a must go if you’re on the island
The Hut has a lovely beach terrace overlooking the sea. We went for breakfast and was served by very friendly staff. The food was delicious and I can say the best breakfast ever! Fresh fruit and lobster Benedict, a real treat to end the holiday. A lovely find!
Date of visit: September 2021
Sometimes referred to as the sailing mecca of UK, the Rover Hamble is home to no less than seven marinas and numerous sailing clubs, all offering visitor berths and modern facilities. Located near to the entrance of Southampton Water, the River Hamble is well sheltered with excellent access to the Solent, making it a brilliant base for any sailing or boating adventure.
Onshore there are a variety of quaint villages to explore including Hamble itself, Warsash and Swanwick, each with a good variety of pubs and restaurants to enjoy. Plus, don’t miss a night out in the well-known rum pub, the King and Queen, which was voted the world’s best yachting bar and has a lovely menu of tasty treats to savour too.
If you want to stretch your legs, take the pink ferry from Hamble and wander along the picturesque riverside footpath from Warsash to Swanwick or pay a visit to one of the many nearby country parks for pretty countryside walks and wildlife spotting.
Further afield, the River Hamble is not far from the city of Southampton and has good transport connections to London. There are also lots of local tourist attractions to keep the kids entertained including Go Ape and Marwell Zoo.
Set in the beautiful New Forest National Park, Beaulieu River is located towards the centre of the Solent on the mainland side. Renowned for being the home of the British National Motor Museum and Palace House, Beaulieu is a small, picturesque little village popular with tourists.
Away from the tourist hot spots, Beaulieu River is a beautiful place to escape the hustle and bustle. Head further upstream on a high tide to explore areas of the river only accessible by boat. Downstream, keep a look out for Gull Island which is home to a variety of rare birds, the Mulberry oyster beds, the floating Mulberry Dock that was used in the D-D Landings, and Gins where the monks of Beaulieu Abbey kept their fishing boats and which is now home to one of Royal Southampton Yacht Club’s clubhouses.
Head to Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour for short stays with over 300 visitor moorings and 100 berths with 5 star onshore facilities. The historic village of Buckler’s Hard is populated with beautiful Georgian properties and is famously known for its ship building heritage including being the place where Nelson’s warships were once built. Take a visit to the Maritime Museum to find out more, or get the heart pumping with a brisk 2.5 mile walk along the river to Beaulieu village where you can enjoy a small selection of quaint tea rooms, delicatessens and shops.
Wootton Creek is located on the northeast coast of the Isle of Wight. Positioned between Cowes and Ryde, Wootton Creek used to be the main route for trading vessels heading to the brickworks at Ash Lake and the tide mill. Now, as you enter the creek, you’ll find a new kind of trade; a large car ferry terminal on the eastern bank. Venture further down, and you’ll find a pretty and unspoilt tidal estuary with wooded valleys either side.
The Royal Victoria Yacht Club welcomes visitors to use their pontoon and clubhouse and with modern facilities, bar and restaurant you’ll find everything you need for a comfortable stay. The Fishbourne Inn is also nearby and offers gastro pub dining. Another option is to take a tender further up the creek to the Sloop Inn at Wootton Bridge. You’ll also find a small selection of shops up the hill from here towards Newport. The creek does dry out though, so you’ll need to plan your journey carefully.
For a bit of culture, take a tour of the nearby Quarr Abbey, a monastery home to a community of Benedictine monks, or why not pop on a steam train from Wootton Station and take a scenic trip along the iconic Isle of Wight Steam Railway to Havenstreet and Smallbrook.
Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
Yarmouth is an old fishing village on the mouth of the River Yar on the north west coast of the Isle of Wight. Steeped in maritime history, Yarmouth is a picturesque spot to visit with famous landmarks near-by as well as a vibrant social scene.
The Royal Solent Yacht Club offers modern facilities to yachtsmen of affiliated clubs or there are plenty of berths and mooring buoys in the Yarmouth Harbour marina. This is a popular place to visit and can get extremely busy so it’s best to beat the crowds and arrive early or try and pre-book.
From here you can explore the ‘West Wight’ which boasts vast stretches of Heritage Coast easily accessed by the coastal road and footpath, or why not take advantage of ‘The Needles Breezer’ open top bus tour leaving Yarmouth every 30 minutes during peak season to see the sights. Must-see landmarks include the white chalk cliffs of the Needles and multicolour sands of Alum Bay.
Or, if you’re feeling a bit more energetic, grab a bike from Wight Cycle Hire at the old Yarmouth train station and explore the River Yar on two wheels. And for those of you who are really keen, take on a challenging 62 mile round the island route.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to venture too far afield and instead relax in Yarmouth itself, why not have a picnic at Yarmouth Castle, one of Henry VIII’s last coastal defences, with beautiful views over the Solent. Or, for a more substantial meal, head to Salty’s for delicious fresh fish and enjoy live music in the fun and friendly bar.
Bembridge Harbour is located on the east coast of the Isle of Wight close to Seaview and St Helens. A drying lagoon, Bembridge can only be accessed via a twisting dredged channel at high tide so it’s wise to plan your arrival time carefully.
The Duver Marina is dredged to a depth of 2m at the time of writing and offers 140 visitor berths including premier finger berths from which you can enjoy breakfast and newspaper delivery if requested. Alternatively, there are tidal moorings in the middle of the harbour with a complimentary water taxi service.
Onshore, the Ralvins Street Food Cafe is a popular place to grab a snack and the Brading Haven Yacht Club and Bembridge Sailing Club offer their facilities to visiting yachtsmen. There are scenic walks and clean beaches aplenty nearby. Nature lovers, head to the Brading Marshes, home to an RSPB nature reserve. Alternatively, treat yourself to an ice cream and take a gentle walk along the harbourside pathway or head to the villages of Bembridge and St Helens to browse little shops and art galleries or grab a relaxing bite to eat.
Newtown, Isle Of Wight
Get away from it all with a trip to the tranquil and secluded Newtown Creek on the north west coast of the Isle of Wight. Owned by the National Trust, the estuary is teeming with extraordinary wildlife and is one of the most undeveloped spots in the Solent area.
Historically, Newtown was a large producer of salt and was more recently saved from becoming the site for a new Nuclear Power Station due to its diverse wildlife, unique ecosystems and untouched natural beauty. The old salt marshes now provide home to a variety of birds, rare butterflies and if you’re lucky you might spot a red squirrel too.
If you want to stretch the legs, take the four mile Newtown estuary walk around the nature reserve and explore the interlacing web of streams and creeks. Alternatively take some time to relax onboard, recharge your batteries and enjoy the stunning natural beauty of this special little anchorage.
Part of the charm of Newtown is that onshore facilities are non existent and the tiny village has only a church and a few houses – no shops or pubs – so make sure you’re well provisioned for your visit. However, this little oasis can get very busy at the weekends and during holiday times so it’s best to head here out of season or during the week to see it at its best and for hassle free mooring.
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