Hayling Island Circumnavigation, Jan 2020

Hayling Island Circumnavigation, Jan 2020. F3, N; HW Portsmouth 0624, LW 1154

Travelling down to the launch point at Langstone Bridge on a frosty Sunday morning in January, as the sun rose into a cloudless blue sky, it seemed a paddle around Hayling Island would be great way to banish those January blues. Although the temperature was -2C when we arrived, after we’d dressed, got our kit ready and moved the boats along the quay, we were all surprisingly hot. Partly that was because we knew we had a deadline: we were launching 4 hours after high water and this meant the water levels were dropping visibly each minute. As the water dropped greater expanses of mud were being exposed. The mud here is a special type that oozes, sucks and sticks to everything, so best avoided at all costs. As a result we carried our boats about 100m along the quay, to launch at the point of minimum mud, and then quickly we were under Langstone Bridge and through the disused railway bridge.


With calm winds, sunny and bright conditions we were able to practice our navigation identifying buoys on the marine charts and matching those on the water, and identifying land based features and identifying those on the OS map too. After ticking off the buoys at Stoke, Sinah and NW Sinah we arrived at the feature unromantically called ‘Concrete Structure’ on the marine chart. In reality it is a Mulberry Caisson, a relic from the second world war.

After a quick snack on the ramp at the east side of the mouth of Langstone Harbour we set off for the next leg. It was now low tide which meant that the East Winner sand bank was exposed and a 2km detour was required to go south and then east round the sand. It looked possible to drag the boats a short way to reach a small channel at the top of East Winner and take advantage of a short cut but we are a kayaking club not a dragging club so we stuck to the sea. East Winner must be a local attraction at low water as there were dozens of walkers on it, lots of dogs and a few horse riders.


Along the south coast of the island there was a gentle following sea from the beginnings of the flood tide. Approaching Chichester Harbour entrance we saw breaking waves ahead and it wasn’t obvious from our position on the water what the best route would be. However, Liza knew that if we stayed out to sea until the red channel marker, and turned left into the harbour only after we had passed the marker, then we could avoid a sand bank and the white horses it was creating. This plan worked perfectly and we had a smooth paddle into the harbour and to the beach near Hayling Island Sailing Club which was the designated lunch spot. A time check showed that David’s prediction of when we would get to the sailing club for lunch was absolutely spot on. The strict schedule was disrupted, however, by a couple of the group searching for the loo after lunch, and we set off for Langstone a full 19 minutes late (as David noted), although it did give us time to check the route on the map.

Checking the route

Paddling up the east side we saw a solitary Solent seal, plenty of oyster catchers and a flock of unidentified birds (a murmuration of dunlin perhaps?). We stayed just out of the channel to avoid the boats, and previous experiences from group members meant we concentrated on not being sucked into deviating up dead end channels to the west, or heading into Emsworth by mistake.

We arrived back at Langstone at about 3.45pm, and landed at the ramp rather than up the small channel to Langstone to avoid the dreaded mud. It was a bit of walk back to the Ship Inn car park and David’s trolley came in useful. After loading up the boats we had a drink in The Ship. At 5pm sharp Tudor and David took themselves to one side in the pub to hold a sub-CKC committee meeting where lots of important decisions were no doubt made. For the record, the meeting closed at 5.13pm. Shortly afterwards we headed off back to London.


A great trip to start 2020 with, which was expertly organised by Liza. It was also Rachel’s first sea trip ever, and Robert’s first sea trip with the club.

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