Cruise Navigation Information
To find out more about our popular cruise detinations, go to the Map of Cruise Destinations.
You can zoom in and scroll the map to look at detail. By clicking on the blue markers you will find a brief description of each destination plus a link (more) to a useful website and a second link (navigation information) to our own detailed notes.
To go directly to our own notes, go to Popular Destinations and click on the appropriate button.
If you have a VHF radio then two channels to monitor are 11 for Portsmouth QHM and 12 for Southampton VTS as ship movements are announced on these channels either directly or by communications with the ships. If the cruise should take you into the river Medina then channel 69 should be monitored.
The Solent Channels
Care must be taken when crossing the deep water channels of which there are two. The north channel, which is used by smaller ships, and the main channel which is used by larger vessels usually heading to or from Southampton. In the eastern Solent the two channels run from Calshot out through the forts towards the Nab tower. The North channel branches off of the main channel at Calshot and runs North of the Brambles bank before rejoing the main channel to the east at Gilkicker. The main channel runs south from Calshot paralleling the main land coast before turning to the east off of Cowes. The main channel then parallels the island coast east to Gilkicker.
Be aware that the bigger ships are limited to the channels and they have little or no room to manoeuvre. They will not stop for a dinghy even if they can see you ! Five hoots from a ship technically means "I do not know what you are doing" but what it really means is "Get out of the way".
The golden rule is "If in doubt, get out of the way as fast as you can".
The channels are marked with buoys which are not very frequent but from one buoy you should be able to see the next one, or the previous one ! They can be confusing as both the North channel and the main channel have their own buoys so there are quite a lot of them. All the buoys are named so by referring to a chart it is straight forward to work out roughly where you are in terms of the channels. The main buoys to look out for are:
Starboard hand channel marker buoy.
Port hand channel marker buoy.
Cardinal buoys mark hazards. There are 4 types (North, East, South and West) and they are all coloured black and yellow. They have different top shapes and the bands are black and yellow vary according to type. The picture shows a Notherly cardinal.
Cardinal marks can also mark a channel edge if placed to warn, say, of a bank or shallow area. In the Solent there are few hazards marked by cardinal buoys that would concern a dinghy. The cruise master would warn of any such hazard on the course of a proposed cruise.
What may be confusing about the channel or, to give them their correct name, lateral buoys are their designation as port and starboard as this obviously depends on the direction of travel. In the areas in which the cruises take place the channels are buoyed for travel into Southampton.