On Sunday we were sailing with hundreds of other boats on the Solent. Our destination was Buckler’s Hard marina on the inviting Beaulieu river. The sailing turned out to be a good practise on COLREGS navigational rules because there were so many boats sailing in all possible directions. Fortunately the day’s race was held a little further from our planned route.
From the Solent we sailed up on the Beaulieu river of which the first four miles are tidal. Then the river continues for another eight miles after the lock. It is not however possible to pass the lock by boat. Our destination, Buckler’s Hard, is located on the tidal area about two miles up the river.
There are quite a few mooring buoys along the Beaulieu river. Most of them seemed to be permanently rented. Our original plan was to stay at the mooring ball but near the marina we were welcomed by a girl on a dinghy and we got a suggestion for a berth on the pontoon pier. Thus we made her fast on the pier instead of the mooring buoy.
There is a strong shipbuilding tradition on the Beaulieu river. In the 18th century England decided to strengthen its navy by building additional warships. The Buckler’s Hard shipyard became the main site for English shipbuilding. It was an ideal location because there was an onsite vast oak tree forests and the nearby iron foundries of Portsmouth. In total there were built over 50 wooden warships and a few commercial vessels as well. The most famous of the warships is Agamemnon, built in 1781 for Admiral Nelson. The 64 gun Agamemnon also became the favourite ship of Lord Nelson.
Nowadays Buckler’s Hard is a pleasure boat harbour. In addition there is a pub and the maritime museum. On a summer Sunday there were many visitors when both the sailors and landlubbers enjoyed the sunny weather in Buckler’s Hard. There was also a meet arranged by MG car owner’s club.
In the afternoon we put the dinghy into water and made a two hour long exploration trip up the Beaulieu river. The string of mooring buoys continued almost until the village and the lock. In the final parts of the river it got so shallow that we had to tilt the outboard up and continued by paddling with the oars. A low water was approaching and there was no more than 30 cm of water. That was just about enough for our dinghy. When we reached the lock we saw an interesting arrangement at a nearby property. First there was a sign “Private Property” and beside of it there was a cannon pointing to the river. We decided not to test weather we could land there with our dinghy. Instead we turned Pikku Suwena around and enjoyed our way back downriver.
The dinghy trip was perfect. The handsome oak tree forest was on both shores of the river. The nature was extremely beautiful on the evening’s sunshine, birds were singing and the water was purling on dinghy’s bow.
When we return to the Beaulieu river next time we absolutely for sure want to moor on the peaceful mooring buoy. When we were travelling upriver there were a plenty of free mooring balls to choose from. We will pass the marina and choose one of the mooring balls so we can enjoy the English countryside scenery directly from the deck of Suwena.