RIB Cruising In The Solent – Part 3

Lymington is an attractive old market town situated at the western end of the Solent, just three miles from the Needles Channel. Despite the fact that the river is monopolised by the regular ferries plying to and from the Isle of Wight, it is well sheltered and accessible at all states of the tide, proving a popular destination for RIB enthusiasts. Double high waters occur at or near springs, while on other occasions there is a stand lasting for about 2 hrs.

Apart from the extensive shoals to the east and west of the harbour entrance and the regular Lymington to Yarmouth car ferry there are no other real hazards to look out for.

With the conspicuous starting platform to the east and the Jack in the Basket port hand channel marker to the west, the entrance to Lymington River can be easily identified both day and night. Follow the channel markers. After approximately half a mile you come to Tar Barrel Beacon, at which point you need to turn to starboard, coming on to a course of 007°. This will bring you on to the inbound ferry transit, identified by black and white leading marks. The channel turns to port at the No 9 Cage Boon beacon, from where the Lymington Yacht Haven entrance bears approximately 280°. Continuing further up river, you pass the Royal Lymington Yacht Club to port and the car ferry terminal to starboard before reaching Lymington Marina on your port hand side. Beyond this marina the river bends sharply to the left, after which the Town Quay, with its floating pontoon, and the visitors’ buoys come into view. A 6 knot harbour speed limit applies at all times.
Anchoring is not permitted in the river, however, with two large marinas, the Town Quay and numerous visitors’ buoys, you have several options as to where to moor up.


Lymington Yacht Haven
Closest to the Solent, this marina has full tidal access. Although it has no allocated visitors’ berths, it usually can accommodate visiting RIBs in the summer when resident berth holders are away. For berthing availability and information call 01590 677071 VHF Ch 80. Berthing fees: The peak rate is £2.59 per metre per day; a short stay of up to four hours is half the daily rate.
Lymington Yacht Haven offers an extensive array of facilities, including toilets and showers which are open 24 hours a day. There is a chandlery at the site entrance. Large skips are located close to each of the three bridgeheads for domestic refuse. Petrol and diesel are available from the fuel station (situated on the sea wall in front of the marina office) from 0830 to 2030 BST and 0830 to 1730 GMT. Security at the marina is of a high standard with a patrol in operation from 1800 to 0800 seven days a week as well as the monitoring of CCTV cameras placed around the marina. The hoist, pressure wash and hard standing areas all need to be booked through Haven Quay.
There is also a bistro bar next to the marina reception serving coffees, teas and snacks as well as breakfast on a daily basis from 0800 to 1015. The Yacht Haven is a 15 minute walk from Lymington town centre and for that reason is often quieter than nearby Lymington Marina.
Lymington Marina
Situated roughly half a mile up river of the Yacht Haven, still on the port hand side, lies Lymington Marina. Easily accessible at any state of the tide, it offers between 60 to 70 visitors’ berths. For berthing availability contact the marina on VHF Ch 80 or Tel: 01590 673312. Berthing fees: £2.76 per metre per day and a short stay is half the daily rate.
Among the facilities are impressive ablution and laundry amenities, and a floating fuel dock selling diesel, petrol and oil. Five minutes walk away from Lymington town’s High Street.
The Town Quay proves a popular choice with many smaller family cruisers. Here there is room for more than 150 visiting boats (with a maximum of 12m LOA) on the pontoon and fore and aft moorings. As there is no VHF for the harbour master, to contact him ahead of time you would need to call Tel: 01590 672014. Berthing fees: For a 10m yacht the charges are £11.50 per night or £5 for a short stay of up to four hours.
There are no real facilities here for yachtsmen, but cheaper berthing fees offer some compensation.
With its picturesque cobbled streets, shopping in the pretty town of Lymington is very pleasurable. There are several grocery stores to choose from, a more convenient one being Tesco on the High Street which opens 24 hours a day during the summer. Alternatively, Waitrose can be found a little further away in St Thomas’ Street. Opposite Tesco is the Lymington Larder, selling a selection of farmhouse cheeses, pates, continental hams as well as chutneys and mustards. There are several clothes boutiques, antiques and gift shops to browse around. If you find yourself in Lymington over the weekend don’t miss the lively street market in the High Street, held every Saturday.
When it comes to restaurants and cafes you are spoilt for choice in Lymington. If you are moored at the Yacht Haven and don’t feel like making the 15 minute walk into town, the Haven Bar and Bistro, with splendid views of the Solent. It has a good, varied menu and puts on a daily barbecue during the summer. The Lymington Town Sailing Club, which welcomes visiting yachtsmen, has its own restaurant, while the Royal Lymington Yacht Club is rather smarter and only accommodates visitors belonging to clubs with reciprocal arrangements.
Fat Cats, tucked away down Ashley Lane opposite Boots on the High Street, serves fresh and, where possible, organic produce. Go there on a weekend for a really convivial atmosphere when they play live jazz. Try the Lal Quilla for a good Indian at the bottom of the High Street. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, it also has a takeaway service. The Italian Caffe Uno serves freshly prepared pasta at very reasonable prices. The Roundhouse in St Thomas’ Street, run by an Italian, offers Mediterranean food with an Italian slant. Its lunch-time two course menu is great value for money and has three choices. Stanwell House Hotel, overlooking the High Street, incorporates an intimate bistro that is also known for its high standard of Mediterranean food. Alternatively, if you like seafood then Limpets is a popular choice. Based in Gosport Street, this privately run restaurant serves fresh food cooked to order at fairly reasonable prices. Once renowned specifically for fish it now provides a broader menu extending to Sunday roasts for those who prefer a more traditional meal. Bluebird Seafood Restaurant on Quay Street comes highly recommended for its fresh fish and shellfish, which are caught locally and vary from season to season.
Among the pubs to be recommended are the Ship Inn, right on the quay, and the Bosun’s Chair which, proud of its fine ales, is situated at the foot of Station Street. Another popular choice with yachtsmen is Chequers in Woodside Lane, serving great food in congenial surroundings. Besides an abundance of pubs and restaurants, only a few of which have been mentioned above, Lymington also has a good selection of cafes and coffee shops, providing a pleasant way to while away the time. Both the Coffee Mill, in New Street off the High Street, and Tres Bon Cafe serve breakfast, lunch and teas.
There is a full range of things to do in Lymington and its surrounding area. In Lymington itself, you could begin by visiting the St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery on New Street. Through various activities, pictures and artefacts, the museum depicts the history of the New Forest as well as exhibiting works from local artists and sculptors. Opening times are from Monday to Saturday 1000 – 1600.
For recreational pursuits, the local open air sea baths lie adjacent to the Yacht Haven or, alternatively, the Lymington Recreation Centre in North Street, Pennington has a 25m indoor main pool as well as a teaching pool. If that’s too energetic for you, give the small cinema at the Community Centre a ring to find out what film is showing.
If you prefer a good walk, the Solent Way footpath provides an invigorating stroll to and from Hurst Castle. With the New Forest on its doorstep, small villages and towns such as Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst are only a bus, train or taxi ride away.

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