The South Coast has been hit by very strong winds over the past 24 hours. The BBC reported gusts of 100mph off The Needles and Southampton (my home town) was hit by 60mph winds. I had pretty much written off paddling this weekend however this evening it looked as if there was to be a period of calm before the next front of wind and rain moved in. Was a paddle possible?

P&H Cetus

P&H Cetus

During the late afternoon I kept an eye on the excellent ‘live weather’ stats provided by Southampton VTS – the Associated British Ports website. This provides live weather information for the Dock Head in Southampton and Bramble Bank which is situated in the middle of the Solent. Gradually, the wind speed dropped from F8, to F7, then F6 until by 7pm it was showing F3. A night paddle was now on the cards.

Rather than head down to Calshot or Lepe I chose the closet put in to my home – Hythe Marina. With High tide at 9pm this mean’t I could put in at the Public Slipway and if needed hug the shoreline keeping well clear of the main channel.

On arriving at the marina, I found the slipway was barricaded due to maintenance work so a slippery clamber down some rocks was called for. I set off under the Hythe Pier as the small train carrying passengers out to an awaiting ferry to Southampton. The water was incredibly calm which was amazing considering earlier in the day I had shot down to Lepe to see waves crashing over the shore road which had been closed by the police.

Southampton Water At Night

Southampton Water At Night

Paddling out towards Calshot, I was aided by the ambient light from the tower blocks across Southampton Water. Seeing the potential for a good photo I landed just past Hythe Sailing Club and set up the tripod.

Having fired off several shots I was soon back on the water heading up to the moored oil tankers at Esso Refinery.

The journey back was enhanced by the frequent passing of the Fast Jets running their regular service to Cowes on the Isle of Wight. A minute or so after they pass you are rewarded by large, smooth swells as their wash heads to shore. I was able to get a couple of good surf runs every time they passed feeling very lucky to be surfing by starlight.

Hythe Marina At Night

Hythe Marina At Night

Paddling back into Hythe, I crept along the promenade looking and listening in on the Saturday night revellers in the waterfront bar who were oblivious to my presence.

Once the boat was loaded back on the car, I took the opportunity to snap a few more pictures of the yachts moored up in the marina before driving the 2 minute journey back up to my house.

A unexpected but very welcome paddle in the clam after the storm!

Route: View route on Google Maps