Sailing the upper Hamble

Cracking second day of Iki Wa’a’s small down wind sail. On the water a little after 8am to catch the flood tide up the upper Hamble.

Launching at dawn

A quick test that the was rigged probably brought a smile to my face even if I was going back downstream.

Quick test sail

What wind there was was on the nose so a steady paddle was needed. Once upstream of the bridges and away from overcrowded part of England’s yacht-ist river is a delight of; mudflats, wading birds and magnificent Oaks just turning autumnal.

Managed to get a fair way up the Curbridge creak, running aground, sitting for a while as the tide flooded and getting a bit further. There aren’t many sailing vessels that can do this, some heeling required to get the mast through trees.

I decided the turn around while I had enough width to the creak. One day I will make it to the pub at the end for a pint, only one one or it would be twelve hours before the return journey is possible.

Joining the Hamble again and paddling down stream I met a two tandem and a solo racing canoes heading the other way. Around the next bend there was a faint hint of a zephyr from behind and my sail was raised. Looking at the water I was pleased, considering the wind, that I was moving. Soon the racing canoes returned, unable to explore any further upstream. As they past I noticed the river bank, I was barely making progress against the remaining flood. I’m sure out of earshot they had a little giggle.I wasn’t bothered and just kept sailing as the breeze slowly found some spirit and the tide finally ebbed.

Iki wa’a didn’t really like going so deep down wind and occasionally I would need the give a corrective stroke on the paddle. As I contemplated fitting a skeg and tried using the paddle as a steering oar over the leeward quarter. This worked fine and I was able to sail and eat my lunch simultaneously. As I silently glided down the river I was able to skirt the riverbank without disturbing the Cormorants, Curlew and other waders.

Relaxing down wind drifting

A yellow and black workboat approached, heart skipped a beat when I realised it was the harbour master. My catastrophising was an over reaction as I received a cheery wave.

Soon a approached the M27 bridge and delighted at the thought of sailing under a bridge and a motorway bridge at that.


Shooting the bridge the compression of pontoons with motor yachts made my sailing more of a challenge. Over the port quarter I saw the harbour master was returning so dropped the sail and paddled. Luckily he had gone and I went under the other two bridges under sail. Without the limitations of bridges the density of pontoons boats increased along with their value. Driven by wind and tide I was swept past these luxury playthings feet away from an insurance claim I couldn’t have paid.

Some of the prettier yachts

And so it was blissful day, immersed in nature, muscles sore from work, fascinated by sailing without boards or rudder. All so simple with minimal effort to get from boat shed to water and back again.

Iki Wa’a just keeps giving and is proof that life is its most interesting at the interface of land and water.


  1. Nice article – despite living a few yards from Swanwick hard, a boat trip to the top of the upper Hamble never fails to sooth the soul.

    Iki Wa looks like a fine craft for this sort of trip


  2. Have you tried the other creek to Botley, take the left fork instead where you headed up to the Horse & Jockey, past the YMCA Fairthorn Maner and keep going, you can get right up to the mill at Botley – it’s a very different river up there. There’s a stopping point and slipway at the old Wharf just outside Botley and picnic area. All worth a visit.

    I’ll be posting some pics on BB soonish


    • I do keep arriving too early tide wise, we where up at the YMCA the first time we did the trip. I had my daughter with me and she was a bit impatient so didn’t wait for the tide to take us any further.


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