The Solent is a great place to learn to sail and is the perfect environment to attend your RYA Competent Crew course. A great mix of sheltered waters and a variety of ports and harbours to visit means you won’t visit the same port twice during your 5 day course.
The Solent is the body of water that separates the Isle of Wight and the main land UK. It runs from Hurst Castle, just west of Lymington in the West, to Portsmouth in the East. This 20 nautical mile stretch of water boasts some of the busiest waters found in the UK. With large commercial ports at Portsmouth and Southampton, ensuring you are keeping an effective lookout while sailing in these waters is very important.
The waters of the Solent are hugely popular with both cruisers and racers alike and with around 20,000 boats in the area it can get quite busy.
Racing is at the heart of the Solent; with its complex tides it is a challenge for new and experienced sailors alike. Regattas take place through the summer and often the best place to watch can be while having a leisurely lunch anchored in Osborne Bay.
Spending the night in Cowes is a must for all sailors. Cowes is described as the ‘Mecca’ of sailing and boasts the largest Union Jack in the country. Cowes also hosts the famous Round the Island Race, which is the fourth largest sporting event in the UK. This annual race around the Isle of Wight sees 1700 boats racing 50 miles anti-clockwise around the island and finishes with a party in Cowes.
This is a race enjoyed by cruisers and racers alike. Click here for more information.
For those who prefer sailing the Solent at a more leisurely pace, visiting historic places like Beaulieu River and Newtown Creek can be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. And after a hard days sailing to Yarmouth or Lymington via the Needles and tidying up the boat it’s off to the nearest watering hole for your favourite tipple before a hearty meal in nice pub or restaurant.
Spending a night on a mooring buoy or at anchor can be an exciting prospect, with plenty of secluded ports and harbours in the Solent, it is possible to spend the night with only the lapping water and stars for company. Enjoy an evening drink while watching the sun go down, before tucking into a home cooked meal onboard.
At the end of your 5 day course you will have clocked up nearly 100 miles, learnt the ropes and how to be a competent member of a crew. It is a wonderful course and a great introduction to sailing. Hopefully you will have caught the bug.