The last month, and in particular the last couple of weeks, we like everyone else have obviously enjoyed amazing early-season weather. The Lymington River over the Easter weekend was extremely busy but we still managed to find some space to run several courses including lots of own-boat tuition and back-to-back RYA Powerboat Level 2 courses which were fully booked.
By comparison, although the school was very busy for the entire Easter holidays, and we were out on the water in some form or another most days, many people were caught out by the good weather and found themselves stranded on the hard-standing with boats undergoing pre-season antifouling, polishing etc, which meant that The Solent was relatively deserted. We had some friends who came to see us so took full advantage of the calm conditions & lovely weather to have our first beach picnic of the year on a pretty deserted Hurst Spit. Conditions were so good, with an Easterly breeze and rising tide, that we didnt even need to put out a stern anchor to hold the boat off the beach, we just put a rond anchor into the shingle, tied the bow line to this, & she sat very happily just off the beach.
The first trick is to make sure that the beach you are going onto is steep-sided so that you don't have a long wade to the shore, and so that the boat is both always afloat and less likely to end up stranded if the tide is dropping. The second thing we would normally do is put out an anchor over the stern at about 70 degrees to the beach to help hold the boat off whilst ashore and also give us a means to pull the boat away from the beach on departure without having to start the engine & risk damaging the prop in shallow water (having the anchor at an angle to the beach can also help to control the distance the boat sits off the beach if there is any cross tide). The third thing to aim for in selecting your spot is an offshore breeze and no surf - you don't want the boat to be blown onto the beach or worse still to be lifted and dropped onto the shingle repeatedly - funnily enough not very good for your hull.
Get it wrong and there is always the possibility of the tide disappearing, the boat being high and dry, and a long wait (up to 12 hours) for the tide to return to refloat you, or the even worse scenario of a damaged or wrecked boat caused by onshore winds and swell. Get it right however and you have the opportunity to get to places off the beaten track (even in The Solent) and enjoy the best picnics and barbecues. It is all in the planning, but the rewards are obvious. For more information give us a call - we might even divulge a couple of our favourite picnic spots...