Arriving at Lepe Beach for 9am I found the winds light, sea state good and very little traffic in the Solent. My planned paddle up Beaulieu River was abandoned in favour of a paddle over to the Isle of Wight, specifically Cowes.
As the main shipping channel runs between Calshot and Cowes this is a difficult crossing point due to the large volume of traffic that uses this stretch of the Solent. From large oil tankers to ferries and fast cats, as well as a large number of sailing boats.
Lepe to Gurnard offers a less busy route, with clear views as you cross at 90 degrees to chanel. It is then a short hop along the coast to Cowes.
The actual crossing is quick – 30 minutes on my return journey – as long as you pick the right state of tide and weather conditions. I left just after the second high tide with the plan of aiming off on the return journey if the tide dictated.
Paddling out I used the cardinal mark off Lepe as a waypoint and took a minute or too holding position here to check for any large traffic on the horizon. Satisfied all was clear I headed straight for Gurnard. There is a nice, small beach with a Cafe at Gurnard which provided a pitstop for a cup of tea and a chat with a couple paddling sit on top kayaks. Then on along the coast into Cowes.
I didn’t stop at Cowes, just paddled around and enjoyed the sights and sounds before paddling back around the coast towards Gurnard. Once clear of the shipping lanes and with a clear view of the traffic I aimed directly for Lepe and 30 minutes later was enjoying a cuppa on the beach.
Lepe (Grid: 456 985) to Gurnard (Grid: 477 958) to Cowes (Grid: 496 962 )
Reverse of outward route.
Pressure – 1013 mB F
Temp max/min – 26/17 degrees C
Wind speed – F3 becoming F3-4
Wind direction – E
Max gust in knots – 16 becoming 20
Sea state – Slight
Visibility – Very good becoming Good