Needles Channel

Christal

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Returning to The Solent from Studland Bay, arriving just after the flood has started.

Forecast is SW 5, possibly becoming 6. Sea state is moderate possibly becoming rougher.

Is it safe to use Needles Channel or should the North Channel be used?
 

Angele

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I agree with Mainsail1.

In the conditions you describe it probably won't be too bad (wind with tide). But, by the time you get to the Needles to find out, you have overshot the North Channel.
 

Tranona

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Agree. North Channel through choice, which has to be made earlier in the passage. Biggest problem with Needles in those circumstances is the significant offset of the tidal streams compared with the buoyed channel which keeps you on your toes.
 

dom

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You don't say what boat you're on but 5/6 on the turn of the tide will be fine in almost any boat. Also if you don't know the North Channel it can seem pretty close to the shore ...and you're side on to the seas!

But, a word of caution. I've been through the Needles on the ebb in a F7/8 and the sea was bumpy but totally unthreatening. Went out on the flood a couple of years ago in similar conditions and the sea was really nasty around the Bridge Buoy. Yarmouth Lifeboat crew say this this not uncommon and that the pre-blow sea state is as important as the wind/tide. The big standing waves (the nasty buggers) at the Bridge largely depend on the height/length of the incoming seas being reflected back into the Channel.

So iif it's flattish before your entry, there's no significant swell and you're on the flood I wouldn't worry. Finally, when light handed I often drop main at sea as running down the Needles Chanell close to a gybe is a PITA!
 

Christal

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Is there any concern that with the North Channel having a depth of around 8m compared to the deeper 14m Needles Channel then the sea would be rougher in the North Channel?
 

arto

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North Channel is greatly to be preferred if you are in any doubt. A dead run through the Needles channel is a strong SW blow is needlessly stressful if it is lumpy.
 

Seven Spades

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It should be fine. However sometime the channel can you take you unawares. A few years ago we returned from Guernsey and it had been blowing 30+knts for 4 hours from SSW when we arrived at the bridge the swell was huge, felt like a washing machine, and I had to put the engine on to help get through it instead of wallowing down wind. The North Channel should be a shorter sail so unless the wind is from a strange direction just go to the North Channel.
 

Tranona

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North Channel is greatly to be preferred if you are in any doubt. A dead run through the Needles channel is a strong SW blow is needlessly stressful if it is lumpy.

Not in my experience. The tide runs parallel to the beach so you get no offset, nor do you get the potential big swells that others have referred to. It only takes a few minutes to get through the narrow bit in the sort of conditions you are talking about - doing 8/9 knots over the ground and the only bumpy bit is the hole just off Hurst castle which can throw you about a bit but you are soon through into flat water.
 

alant

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Not in my experience. The tide runs parallel to the beach so you get no offset, nor do you get the potential big swells that others have referred to. It only takes a few minutes to get through the narrow bit in the sort of conditions you are talking about - doing 8/9 knots over the ground and the only bumpy bit is the hole just off Hurst castle which can throw you about a bit but you are soon through into flat water.

I live overlooking North Head buoy & north channel is rarely a problem.
Needles Channel, can be vicious with standing waves at the bridge in F6+.
You have presumably read Reeds on this route.
 

jac

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It should be fine. However sometime the channel can you take you unawares. A few years ago we returned from Guernsey and it had been blowing 30+knts for 4 hours from SSW when we arrived at the bridge the swell was huge, felt like a washing machine, and I had to put the engine on to help get through it instead of wallowing down wind. The North Channel should be a shorter sail so unless the wind is from a strange direction just go to the North Channel.

You're a braver man than I!!!

THink with that I'd have been tempted to east of Bembridge instead but I guess it depends where you are when you realise that the sea will have built up a lot.
 

Seven Spades

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We had been screaming along under spinnaker for most of the time from Cap de le hague and it felt quite serene because the parent wind was only around 20knts, it was only when we dropped and went to the genoa that we became aware of the strength and then we were only about 4 miles from the needles. Endless to say to was our quickest ever crossing. Peter Port to the bridge in 11.5 hours. The rough bit was only about the first mile of the Needles, the channel was relatively smooth/moderate. When we left peter port we couldn't even set the spinnaker because there was only about 3-5 knots of wind.
 

dom

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You're a braver man than I!!!

THink with that I'd have been tempted to east of Bembridge instead but I guess it depends where you are when you realise that the sea will have built up a lot.

I did that a few years ago. Left Chb with the wind S 30kts; it gradually increased to 35-38 gusting 45. The sail was pretty horrible, rolly poly running as opposed to a fast sleigh ride - father was on board and he's a pure displacement man. Swapped for Bembridge and sat for an age about 3m S of St Cat Pt on a spring ebb; 6/7kts throught the water, 2-3.5 over the ground! Well outside the overfalls, but the sea was weird; short but generally fine, apart from the odd big nasty character which could be seen wandering through its smaller cousins. A couple of novice crew members started to panic and one popped up to ask if stopping at Ventnor was a possibility!

With the benefit of hindsight I made a mistake; should have just taken the North Channel and got out of the seas.
 
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