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The size and density of the commercial traffic in this area, together with their speed, makes it imperative to keep a good lookout. Remember that there is a Precautionary Area between Calshot and Cowes where all vessels over 150m are given a Moving Prohibited Zone of 1,000 metres ahead and 100 metres to either side. All vessels under 20m must stay clear of this moving zone. To the north of the Brambles Bank, the North channel provides access to Southampton Water for small commercial craft coming from the west, saving them the extra distance needed to round the Brambles to the south and the passage up the Thorn channel. To the north of this channel the Hill Head and Lee-on-Solent shorelines are popular areas for dinghy sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and jet skiing. Small recreational fishing boats are also found throughout the central Solent, often anchored on the plateau or near the shorelines. The Solent’s most famous port, Cowes, lies at the centre of the Solent and its convenient geographical position, plus its easy entry, make it a popular destination for yachts and powerboats of all types. As it is also the home of passenger and car ferry operations, plus commercial traffic headed up the river Medina, the entrance is often crowded and care should be taken when entering or leaving. The tide off Cowes runs very strongly and due allowance for the strong east or west going stream should be made when entering or leaving as the stream changes direction in the harbour entrance. When a strong wind meets a strong tide off Cowes the seas on Prince Consort Shoal can get quite lumpy. This can be avoided if coming from the east by staying inshore but beware of The Shrape mud which, at low tide, extends almost as far as the racing buoys, and do not be tempted to cut through the extensive mooring buoys which line the east side of the harbour round No. 2 red can at the entrance before heading upriver. The other main yachting harbour in the central Solent is the Hamble river with its many marinas and yachting facilities. Southampton Water has much commercial traffic but there are still places for the leisure sailor to explore including Ashlett Creek on the west side below the Fawley Marine Terminal jetties. Further up Southampton Water is Hythe Marina Village on the west side, while


Solent Handbook & Directory 2017  
Solent Handbook & Directory 2017