Portland to Southampton


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Storm systems rolled through Portland, UK for four nights before the forecast showed a gap just long enough for the 60-mile run to Southampton. On our approach to Southampton Waters, we transited the narrow and current-swept Needles Channel, passing the dramatic chalk cliffs and Needles Lighthouse off the southwest tip of the Isle of Wight. Then we were into the busy Southampton Waters, with constant ferry and shipping traffic and a few pleasure craft thrown into the mix. At the Port of Southampton facility, we turned up the River Itchen and eventually reached Saxon Wharf. There we moored for the weekend prior to Dirona being lifted into the boat yard for service on Monday, January 8th.

Below are trip highlights from January 6th through 7th, 2018 en route to and in Southampton, UK. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps

1/6/2018
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St. Alban’s Ledge

We left Portland just past 5am and by 7:30 were rounding St. Alban’s Ledge, another area of strong current and tidal races off the south coast of England. Conditions are settled enough that we likely could have passed through, but it only takes us a mile or two out of our way to avoid the area.
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Conditions

We started off in a slightly negative current, but now are riding a positive current that should carry us all the way to Southampton. Winds are reasonably light at 15 knots and we’re making 9.5knots at 2100 RPM where normally we’d do about 8.75 knots at that RPM.
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Smoke Alarm

A few days ago, the smoke alarm in the pilot house failed, followed by the one on the master stateroom a couple of days later and the one in the salon this morning. We bought them all at the same time and it would appear they have some kind of built-in expiry date. This is a little annoying as we carry only two spares, not one for every smoke alarm on the boat.
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Crabbing

We’re about to pass through Needles Channel off the west coast of the Isle of Wight and are being pushed off course in the 2.3-knot flood cross-current.
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Chalk Cliffs

The dramatic chalk cliffs off the southwest tip of the Isle of Wight with the Needles Lighthouse visible a the bottom left.
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Tide Rips

Our chart is full of tide rip warnings around Needles Channel and even in relatively calm conditions the waves are breaking over the shallows to our west.
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Needles Lighthouse

Needles Lighthouse, completed in 1859, with two of the three chalk rocks known as “The Needles”. A £500,000 reinforcement project was completed in 2010 when the lighthouse was found in danger of falling into the sea due to the state of the chalk strata underneath it.
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Hurst Castle

Henry VII established Hurst Castle in the 1540s to protect the western end of the Solent waterway from attack. The Hurst Point Lighthouse on the right has been an active light since 1867.
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Current

We’re nearing maximum flood now and are making 11.7 knots at 1977 RPM when normally we’d be doing about 8.5 knots at that RPM.
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Cliff End Battery

Cliff End Battery was completed in 1868 and is one of several forts built on the Isle of Wight to protect against a French invasion.
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Wightlink

Two Wightlink ferries on the route between Lymington on the mainland and Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.
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Red Osprey

The Red Funnel ferry Red Osprey on route from Southampton to East Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
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Fawley Power Station

The 650-foot (198 m) smoke stack at the former Fawley Power Station to our north. The oil-fired plant opened in 1971 and was closed in 2013 due to the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive.
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Red Jet 3

Red Jet 3 is one of 3 high-speed catamarans that provide passenger-only ferry service between Southampton and West Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The vessel currently is running at 12.5 knots, but attained at 37.4 kts during a publicity cruise when it was introduced in 1988.
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Kisber

The 394-ft LPG tanker Kisber en route from the Port of Fawley just to our north.
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Police

A police boat running southbound through Southampton Water.
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Tugs

Beautiful tractor tugs off the Port of Fawley to our west.
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Fawley Refinery

The Fawley Refinery, established in 1921, is the largest oil refinery in the UK. It produces approximately 270,000 barrels a day, about 20% of the UK refinery capacity, with an estimated 2,300 employees.
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British Eagle

The beamy 144-foot-wide British Eagle moored at the BP fuel terminal in Hamble. It’s a 113,558 dead weight tonnes AFRAMAX tanker. An underwater pipe runs from here to the Fawley Refinery across the waterway.
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Oriana

The cruise ship Oriana departing Southampton for Hamburg, Germany with a pleasure craft under sail between us. The waterways leading into Southampton are narrow and busy with commercial traffic. Relatively few pleasure craft are out given the season, but it will be much busier in the summer. The Southampton Vessel Traffic Service publishes a detailed guide for pleasure craft.
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City of London

The dredger City of London heading south. We’ve certainly seen a wide variety of vessels in our short time in the Southampton area.
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Max 6 Knots

The maxium speed for vessels underway in Southampton Waters north of this buoy is 6 knots.
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Port of Southampton

Another set of capable-looking tractor tugs at the Port of Southampton under a sign that reads “Welcome to the Port of Southampton. Gateway to the World”.
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Vehicles

We turned up River Itchen to reach Saxon Wharf where we’re scheduled to be lifted out by their 200-tonne boat lift Monday morning. The wharf behind the port offices are filled with large mining trucks and construction equipment in front of three large multi-level parking lots filled with new cars.
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St. Claire

The Wightlink ferry St. Claire at Empress Dock off the River Itchen. Wightlink doesn’t run a route from there, so perhaps it is in for service.
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Hamble Lifeboat

The Hamble Lifeboat underway in the River Itchen.
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Shamrock Quay Marina

Looking northwest across Shamrock Quay Marina with the blue 200-tonn boat lift at Saxon Wharf visible beyond.
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Up the Mast

A person perched among the sea of masts at Shamrock Quay Marina.
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Saxon Wharf

Moored on the jetty at Saxon Wharf, ready for lifting on Monday.
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Hearse

We’d walked over to Shamrock Quay Marina to have lunch at The Cove restaurant, but it was closed for two weeks over the holidays. Walking out to find another option we passed this striking 1986 Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit hearse.
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Browns

Our next option for lunch was Brown’s Pub, but it also was closed.
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Fermentalists

Rob Colmer had seen us taking a picture of Brown’s and struck up a conversation. Rob showed us the entrance to Brown’s that we’d inadvertently walked past, noticed it was closed, and mentioned he ran a brewery across the road and invited us in for a beer. He didn’t have to ask twice.
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Tap It Tap Room

Rob Colmer is head brewer at Tap It Brewing Co and makes some really excellent craft beer. We tried nearly his entire selection and enjoyed them all, particularly the IPAs. Rob has spent a fair bit of time on the US west coast—we had an excellent time tasting beer and swapping travel stories.
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Brewery

Tap It head brewer Rob Colmer and assistant brewer James Barber explaining to James the temperature control systems used in the brewery.
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The Grapes

Rob and James at Tap It recommended our best option for lunch was on Oxford St, a short taxi ride away. The sign outside The Grapes enticed us, but they didn’t seem to serve food.
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Chimichanga

We had an excellent lunch at Chimichanga. Oxford Street reminds us of Las Olas near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We’ll definitely be back.
1/7/2018
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Low Tide

Low tide on a calm and sunny morning at Saxon Wharf. Looks like we’ll be getting a few days of nice weather.
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Dry Stack

Besides the yard, MDL Marinas also operate a large dry-stack facility at Saxon Wharf. Here the forklift operator is lowering a large RIB into the water from the dry stack behind.
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Arklow Valiant

We were surprised to see the 285ft (87m) cargo ship Arklow Valiant working through the narrow River Itchen without tug assist. The navigable channel is only about 115ft (35m) wide—that’s barely twice the ship’s 50ft (15m) beam. There isn’t much room for error.

Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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