Navigating the Beaulieu River


Welcome to Beaulieu. Here we are in the
river on a windy old day you can see it’s blowing pretty hard out there but
in here we’ve got no worries at all We’re perfectly sheltered.
The New Forest is all around us. The great oak trees that built Nelson’s Navy are still
growing strong here. The ponies are galloping away on the heath and this is
one of the nicest places on the south coast of England
I’ve kept my boat here for 25 years or more and in all that time I’ve never had
any problems with the navigation which which is interesting because some people
imagine it’s difficult. They look at the chart and they see that the bars only
got 0.9 meters on it at LAT that’s lowest astronomical tide mark
you and they think I don’t think I’ll chance me arm with that but actually that’s nonsense
Today low water has got 1.6 meters of water above what it says
on the chart so there’s two and a half metres my boat draws 2.1 meters so i
could actually get in here at low water today with with seven feet of draught
so what we’re going to do, we’re going to go down below on the boat now and we’re
just gonna have a look at the way I work the numbers to get in here and then
we’re going to go down to the bar and have a look at what it looks like in
real life Let’s have a look at the paper chart for a moment.
This is the Imre chart which most of us have got. You can see it’s a big wide way in here.
You don’t want to get involved with these drying banks but if you look down the
entrance for the deep water there’s 0.9 meters here on the bar.
That’s the least you’re ever going to find that’s there all the time. To make
sure you’re on that line, if you take a transit, that is you line up the first
red beacon inside the dolphin, with the left-hand end of leap house that’s the
sort of monster house inside, that will put you in the deepest water. When
there’s a fair amount are tide up if you’re straight either side of it it’s
not the end of the world it’s not terribly important but so long as you’re
on that transit near the bottom you’re fine now then, to work out how much water
you need let’s just have a look at the situation. Here’s the old-fashioned paper
way of doing it. I’ve done the sums here and I’ve put the time of low water is 08:50 and I’ve put that low water had 1.7
meters. High water’s 3.1 meters so at the very worst today we’re going to have 1.7
meters of tide up and 0.9 nine meters from the chart. That gives us
2.6 meters that’s it, most of us can come in any
time today. But suppose I want two meters well I look for two meters down the bottom
here, I’d go up on the line, I put my ruler across and I’m gonna come across
till I find the dotted line which is the neap tide line, make a little mark on it,
go down to the times and I find it’s one, two, well about two and a half hours after
low water so 10:50 about quarter past eleven would give me two meters of tide up to add to the 0.9 You might not want to do all that. You
might prefer to do it electronically Right well it’s a windy old day and
whichever side of Beaulieu we’re approaching from we get ourselves to the
general vicinity of this yellow racing buoy here that puts you in the sort of
spot you want you can then start eyeballing the bar and steering so as to
get yourself on the transit as I mentioned if there’s a lot of tide
up the transit’s not critical but if you’re in any doubt at all the safest
thing is to get the first read post inside the entrance in line with the
left-hand side of the great big house in there you can see it quite clearly even
from out here. if it’s the dark time you can actually come in here in the dark,
it’s all lit, there’s a very very good directional light on the millenium
lighthouse up there and there is it coming to the first stretch
of the river we’ve got red and green posts which are lit critically at
strategic places well we’re nicely inside the river now
we don’t have to worry about the bar anymore, we can see where we’re going.
I’m going to call the marina now to see what the situation is on berthing. It can get
quite full this marina because as you can imagine it’s pretty popular.
If there isn’t a berth up there I don’t mind really because I’m really happy
just picking up one of these buoys in the lower reach, it’s a beautiful place and
sometimes it’s nice just to have a night there on your own but if
there’s space up at the marina well that’d be grand usually there is and if you’re
pre-booked you can be guaranteed so let’s give them a shout and see what’s happening
Beaulieu River Radio Beaulieu River Radio This is yacht Constance on channel 68 over.
We’ll be up there in time for a pie and a pint in the pub.
If you look at stern of us now you can see the line of red posts and it’s
really important not to cut that corner when you’re coming in or particularly
when you’re going out because just over here there’s a shoal which you can see,
you can actually still see it breaking now even at this state of the tide with
a load of tide up, just to the right of that red post there’s a little bit of
land sticking up and half an hour ago there were seagulls walking on that and
in another half hour you won’t see it at all and it’s easy to come unstuck
if you don’t take notice of the red post, so go all the way to
the bar when you’re coming out of the river do not take a shortcut.
Above that first corner the river is largely marked by withies, which are
these little stakes. They’re painted red and green so that you know which side to
leave them it’s not a smart move to go very close
to these because some of them are actually placed slightly outside the
deep water so don’t imagine they’re like beacons you can go right up to and
strike a match on them as you go past If you try that you might have rather a
long wait for the water. So give them a fair clearance but they give you an
indication of where the water is. As we’re just passing Gin’s Farm we’ve now
got a pontoon here and these are all private births. You need to leave this
lot to starboard really, stay inside the river keep them on your starboard hand
as you go past. There’s a speed limit sign there, five knots, and the really
important secondary sign is mind your wash and that’s the big thing really,
especially if you’ve got a motorboat and you’ve got a big square transom you’re
pulling a fair wave behind you it’s important to look behind you and
see actually how much wave you’re really dragging because there’s
people, kids in dinghies and things and also the little creatures on the
riverbank don’t like it much if they get a lot of wash. We’re just actually
approaching a little cottage on the foreshore here with a pontoon off it.
There’s a lump on the bottom here it goes quite shallow as we go past here
and actually the depth at the shallowest point is exactly the same as the depth
on the bar so if you’re going out to sea and you come past here and you float
past here you’re gonna float on the bar and it’s very very useful to know that.
So we come around the last bend now towards Buckler’s Hard we can see
Buckler’s Hard in front of us; the village street’s opening up dead ahead
and we can see the marina across the marshes to the right. There’s a great
long pontoon here which is normally used by visitors and if you call up the
harbour staff for a berth as you’re coming in the likelihood is
that’s where they’ll put you where those little motor boats are. At the
far end of it is the fuel birth and a way to the right just opening up now
behind the marsh is the marina You might well find a berth in the marina.
The berths are all privately owned or privately rented. So that’s the
Beaulieu River. Not much to it is there? And what a lovely spot. The problem I have is
that I keep my boat here and if you’re in such a lovely place why do you ever want to go sailing? You’ve gotta ask, but I do, I get out and about. If you’ve got
any problems when you’re coming into the river always called channel 68. The
harbour are waiting to help you. visit the website before you come, get the
latest dope on what’s going on and that’s it really.
I’m gonna tie me boat up now and I’m going up to the pub for a Whisky Mac
because I’m absolutely freezing on this winter day. It’ll be lovely in the summer,
get yourself down here

3 thoughts on “Navigating the Beaulieu River

  1. Tom, we have never met but quite likely we should have. I am the son of a journalist who grew up in England in the 1950's. I returned to England in the late 1960's and worked at a hotel in the New Forest in Hants. The hotel was in the small town of Burley. The hotel was Burley Manor. The owner was Peter Dixon, a retired RAF pilot and my fathers great friend from the war. I treasured my time there working in the pub at the hotel. During that time I met a retired man from London who had done quite well and had a farm in Hants with horses, wife and daughter; all of whom were married to the land and horses. He had a beautiful S&S wood sloop that he handily raced out of Lymington. He, once knowing that I was an avid sailor and racer, immediately took me on as his deck hand (read BN). I absolutely loved it. I was 20 years and fit and happy to be in the sailing mecca.
    Well, we did well on several races. But there was one that was seminal for me. Crossing the Channel at night I was swept overboard on a sail change and driven down the side of the vessel (no PFD in that era). The owner/skipper, Charles, saw me coming down the side of the vessel and reached out his hand and grabbed the hood of my fowlies.
    I slammed against the boat, sucking water and entering hypothermia. He was amazing in that he held on and got our other crew, who was seasick and disabled to drag me aboard.
    I was 20 years old. I was a neophyte sailor then. It was a seminal event. Since then, happily, I have not given up on sailing; indeed I have taken the bone by the teeth. I have been a licensed captain for more than 20+ years; skippered, driven, captained many vessels around the globe and never looked back.
    I love your stories and writings. You are a treasure and a hero to me. Carry on , Tom!
    Rick

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