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Calshot

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General details:

Calshot is a very similar sailing location to nearby Lepe. My personal preference is Lepe because of the better facilities nearby and the shorter walk at low tide, however Calshot enables sailing in a wider range of wind directions and the possiblity of sailing in Southampton Water.

Calshot has a sandy beach leading down to a shingle shelf which extends out for a fair way from the beach on low spring tides. The beach itself is not particularly deep and at high tide - particularly springs - there is very little left. There are also some small groynes to contend with. The emphasis on the groynes here is the word small, they only extend out a very short distance and are only going to affect you as you come in and decide exactly whereabouts you are going to beach your board.

Update - Oct 2011:
There is also a flat water lagoon on the opposite side to the beach, which is sailable at high tide. It's felt that the wind here can be fluky and holey in most directions due to interference from buildings such as the power station, which surround it on most sides, but it is certainly a beginner or a light wind option.

The lagoon is relatively safe, but be aware that the shoreline shelves sharply and you can be quickly out of your depth. Keep an eye on the tide and come in before the tide drops too far. The bottom of the lagoon is deep (think thigh deep), soft mud and it is not an easy or pleasant walk back to shore with your kit if you get it wrong! Also note that for the same reason, it is best to be tentative as you can sink quite deeply if you put your feet down on the mud flats which are on the left side of the lagoon as you sail out (And don't catapult head first into them..!)
 
It is also possible to park at the hangar furthest to the left to launch from the end of the spit. This gives access to Southampton Water and is the best spot to launch if the wind has north in it. It is useful to know, since on the south coast, Calshot is one of the few places that works in a Nor/norwesterly!

Like Lepe, Calshot isn't too good for a summer sea breeze because the Isle of Wight confuses things a bit. Unfortunately Calshot doesn't receive the same funnelling effect from the Isle of Wight that can be experienced at Lepe.

There is also a public slipway off from the car park which has the unfortunate effect of attracting jet skis. However these don't tend to hang around in the area for too long.

Calshot is another location where the bored windsurfer gets tempted to make the crossing to the Isle of Wight. If you must go; go in a group and take flares, tow rope, spare fins etc to help ensure a self sufficient recovery should things not go according to plan. Let someone who is going to remain on the land know you are going and when you expect to be back. Most importantly of all, let them know when you do get back. While this is a very tempting thing to do, "because its there", windsurfers are particularly vunerable when sailing long distances in open water due to wind shifts & changes, sailor fatigue, equipment failure and less expected items like hitting a piece of drift wood at full speed. Think very carefully before embarking on such an activity, it is very embarrasing looking at the number of windsurfing incidents the coastguard and RNLI get called out to each year.

Alternative light wind activities include a trip to Beaulieu which is only a short distance away. On the road back towards Fawley you will pick up signs to Beaulieu.

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Directions to the right place:

Head towards Southampton. Shortly before reaching Southampton, start following signs to Fawley and the A326. Drive past Fawley and pick up signs to Calshot. When you reach Calshot turn left and head towards the activity centre. Park in the (pay and display) car park situated in a gap between the beach huts.

Click here for a location map

Update - Oct 2011:
It is also possible to park further down from the pay and display car park. There are two options; on the grass on the left hand side to launch on the flat water lagoon; or right down in front of the hangar to the furthest left, which allows you to launch off the end of the spit into Southampton Water, which is excellent when the wind turns northerly.
 
Please note that pay and display tickets purchased by the beach huts are NOT valid in this area and it is necessary to purchase a separate parking ticket (with a small launch fee per sailor) from the booth as you drive through, or from the windsurfing shop (24-7 Boardsports) when the booth is not manned. You can park free for a short time in this area if you are visiting the shop and speak nicely to the parking attendant.
 
The good thing is that there is plenty of parking and even on the busiest, sunniest days, I have never had a problem finding a space.

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How the winds work:

The beach at Calshot faces south easterly so sailing is possible in most directions from south westerly anti clockwise through to north easterly. If there is more north in the wind, it's also possible to sail round the corner and head up into Southampton Water.

Update - Oct 2011:
Bramblemet (www.bramblemet.co.uk) is a weather station on the Bramble Bank, offshore from Calshot in the Solent. This gives an indication of the wind strength and direction at Calshot.
 
24/7 Boardsports has an anemometer in the shop and a link with weather sites on their website if you wish to check the wind direction and strength. 023 8089 4000 www.24-7boardsports.com.

SW - Cross shore, starboard tack.

S - Cross on shore

SE - On shore

E - Cross on shore

NE - Cross shore, port tack.

N - Sail round the corner into Southampton Water - watch out for the wind dropping.

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Tidal conditions:

HW springs tend to occur around 12:30 - 13:30 (00:30 - 01:30). HW neaps around 07:30 (GMT).

Sailing is possible in all states of the tide, however watch out for the shingle shelf at low tide, particularly on springs.

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Hazards:

Shingle shelf which extends out for a long way at low tide (and dries out on spring low tides).

Long traffic queues when trying to leave at the end of a hot summers afternoon.

Strong cross shore currents, particularly during spring tides.

Shipping!! Some very large ships go in & out of Southampton. If you decide to cross Southampton Water (which can be very choppy) or The Solent, keep a good look out & keep out of their way.

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Facilities:

Pay & Display car park.

Toilet Block.

Tap next to the pay and display meter to help rinse off windsurfing kit.

Update - Oct 2011:
24/7 Boardsports (used to be Solent Sailboards) - windsurfing shop for spares, advice and ogling new kit!
 
There is a decently high and extensive climbing wall in Calshot Activities Centre (023 8089 2077), which is located in the main hangar after the brick buildings to your right as you drive towards Calshot Castle and the end of the spit. The centre offers tuition and a range of other sporting activities, such as kayaking (and surely the shortest dry ski slope in the world!) - an option if the winds are light.

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B&B's / campsites

Calshot Activities Centre provides with B&B and tent pitching area (and Caravans).

The little tourist shop in the car park almost certainly keeps details of other suitable places.

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Pubs and eateries

Pubs are thin on the ground around Calshot. On the road between Fawley and Calshot there are a number of interesting looking pubs, however I haven't ever stopped at any of them.

Recommendation from Becky: There WAS the Flying Boat Inn, but now there's the Spinnaker in Calshot Activities Centre.

Update - Oct 2011:
We have found that the cafe in Calshot Activities Centre has rather erratic opening hours. The food is very good and reasonably priced and since the chef is Thai, the Thai curries are particularly recommended! 

Please let us know if you have any other recommendations.

There is a LOVELY fish and chip shop in Blackfields which we go to, it's wonderful! (Thanks, Becky)

Update from SAI - April 2012:
There are 2 good pubs at the Fawley boat yard - just where the road truns left after gate 2 of the oil refinerary. The Jolly Sailor and The Mill House.

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Content supplied by with updates from Becky Sefton(?) & Jackie Lambert (Oct 2010); SAI (Apr 2012)

Note: All comments and opinions mentioned in this section of the site are the personal opinions of the various contributors. Inevitably, one person's favourite may be another person's least favourite.

The information provided here is provided in good faith. We can take no responsibility for the consequences of any inaccuracies. Should you find any inaccuracies, then please take the trouble to tell us, using any of the update links.

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