Totally Thames Tasters – 7 & 8 Sep

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Scratchells Bay, Isle of Wight, August 2022

We launched east of Lymington, passing through the New Forest on the way to the launch and see wild horses, cows and surprisingly loads of donkeys just wandering around the roads. The launch site was where a single track lane meets the sea at a shingle beach. The beach, near high water is covered but shallow, so the water drops quickly as the tide starts to move to LW. Parking is feasible if squashed against the hedges, so we kept the cars in the lane, but a more gung-ho Land Rover driver got stuck in the shingle while we are getting ready. We didn’t pay too much attention to that because from the beach we could just see the Needles in the distance.

We launched at HW+3hrs on Neaps without difficulty and no mud – good news! Very little wind (F2) and no waves, almost flat and full sun all day.

We followed the coast along to Lymington with some flow behind. Get to the marker ‘Jack in the Basket’ outside the harbour then cross the harbour entrance between multiple yachts and motor boats, without incident. Crossing the Solent we aim to Fort Victoria for about half the distance – then change direction to Fort Albert.

Fort Albert

We stop for a short rest on the water at Fort Albert, and find the water is quite clapotic with reflected boat wash. While adjusting maps I found myself going backwards, which was surprising since the plan had anticipated a tidal push towards the Needles for a further hour.

As a result we reached the Needles a bit later than planned and around Goose Rock (the end point of the Needles) there was a clear and strong eddy line developing.

Rounding the Needles we headed for the lunch spot at Scratchells Bay, under the huge white cliffs.

Lunch is finished off with Cathy’s flap jacks, individually wrapped in paper. There is no surf when leaving the shingle beach so we head over to Sun Corner to look in the cave with a beach in the back. There is enough room for two kayaks to get in at a time (backwards), and the cliff seems huge when up so close to it.

Heading back we went through the second gap at the Needles (smaller one) with water pushing us through.

We get a big push from the tidal stream (~1.8 knots) back upto Fort Albert, making it from the Needles in 35 minutes – which had taken 75 minutes on the way there! It also helped that the wind has picked up to F3 and was now directly behind us.

A cargo ship passed us as we approached Fort Albert and a few minutes after it passed we got a lot of waves (0.5m) in quick succession, again with reflections from the fort walls causing clapotic conditions. Reversing the outward route we made good time and once we loaded the boats it allowed us to have another individually wrapped flap jack before heading back to the Arches with the boats. Another fantastic day on the water!

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