In this section:
2. Hamble tidal overview and resources
3. Hamble tidal curves
4. Tidal planning for Port Hamble
The tides on the Solent and Hamble river are unique – largely because of the peculiar tides we get as water comes round both sides of the Isle of Wight. The varying depths and obstructions within the Solent also create further peculiarities – with a variety of eddies running in different places at different times.
Numerous publications are available that detail tidal streams within the main body of the Solent. In particular, ‘Winning tides’ is a handy waterproof book, ideal for racers and cruisers, who want easy access to tidal information whilst on deck. Available at most chandleries and online stores.
The purpose of this guide is to take a more detailed look at the specific tidal curve of the river Hamble and how to plan your boating/marina handling to avoid the strongest running streams and utilise the frequent periods of slack water that form the rivers tidal curve.
The tides change with the moon, on a roughly 2 week cycle. Spring tides are when the tidal range will be highest, with the lowest low and the highest high. Neap tides are when the tidal range is smallest. The timings of high and low water progress to be later every day by about 40 minutes.
A good rule of thumb to work from is that Spring tides occur with HW at midday/midnight and Neap tides occur with HW at 6am/6pm. The closer the timing of HW to midday/midnight then the stronger the tide.
The speed of the incoming/outgoing tide can be as much as 3 knots in parts of the River, more at the double green posts below Hamble Point Marina. The ebb tide currents are faster than the flood tide currents.
Long range tide tables
Long range tide tables can be hard to find online but a 28 day view for Portsmouth tide times is available via the button below.
For complete accuracy, you need to make a small adjustment on the above for Hamble river – but for overview planning purposes it’s not really necessary. Buying the same Reeds Almanac that we provide on the boats (or at least a tide table) from the chandlery can prove to be a useful planning investment.
Short range tide tables
We recommend the following link for short term planning (7 days) and to view/understand the tidal curve on the river Hamble.
Use the drop down on the right to adjust for BST and length of forward view. It’s important to understand the tidal curve specific to Hamble so let’s take a look at two tidal curves (Spring and Neap) to illustrate various points.
Spring tide curve
You will see, above, an example curve for Hamble on a Spring(ish) tide. It doesn’t look like the normal sine wave you would expect because of the peculiar tides we get as water comes round both sides of the Isle of Wight.
Three key features are:
• 0600-0730: The mid flood stand where halfway through the incoming tide it stops. Most pronounced on Spring tides, the mid flood stand offers around an hour and a half of slack water. It can be a useful point of the tide for exiting and entering the marina.
• 1000-1300: The HW stand. Again most pronounced on Springs, the HW stand in Hamble includes a twin peak and can provide in excess of two hours of fairly slack water. Again useful for marina manouevering.
• 1600: The LW stand. Far shorter than the HW stand but it remains a useful period of slack water.
Neap tide curve
In the above chart you will see a curve for a Neap(ish) tide. You will see that the Low water is much higher at 2.0m and the High water much lower at 3.9m. The gradient of the curves is less steep which tells you that the tidal currents will not be as strong as at a Spring tide.
On the curve above you will see that both the mid flood and HW stands are not as pronounced for Neap tides as for Springs.
As with most things in life, drawing hard lines is difficult. Some key elements to consider when planning your day are:
• As you get started with skippering from Hamble, it’s worth trying to plan your exit and entry to the marina to coincide with slack water. As you build experience and confidence, marina handling with the tidal stream running is a key skill you should be looking to build on.
• Berth orientation: If parking while the stream is running, most skippers find parking against the tide easier. Therefore you need to consider the orientation of the berth to the tide.
• Whilst Spring tides deliver the strongest stream (both in the marina and the Solent) which you may seek to avoid, their timing in Hamble also provides useful windows of slack water. With Spring HW at midday, the mid flood stand occurs around 8-10am, the HW stand around 12-2pm and the LW water stand around 6pm.
• Picking a tide for easy marina handling is important, but don’t forget you also need to consider the direction of tidal flow in the Solent in line with your passage plans.
• The tidal stream isn’t your only consideration when boat handling in the marina. You also need to consider the effect of the wind on the boat. This can often be done whilst the boat is tied up and looking at which lines are under strain and working out whether the tide or wind is the predominant force. When returning to the berth, this is trickier but can to some extent be ascertained in the middle of the river by stopping the boat in an area where you have more space. Beware though, because as you drive into the marina the depth will shallow and in some circumstances the tidal flow will lessen. Watching other boats come and go, and thinking through the techniques that worked/failed and why, is also a really valuable exercise.
For skippers who are getting started/working on improving their marina handling, one option is to look for a neap tide day offering the second Hamble HW peak at around 6am / 6pm (so slightly earlier than the neap tide curve above). This will give you weaker tidal flows and convenient marina entry/exit windows for day sailing. It’s not the only option, but if your dates and boat availability align it’s a good starting point.
Once you have a few trips under your belt and have built confidence with your marina handling in slack water, we recommend booking a training session with a PL instructor to work on close quarters manouveres with the stream running. Done properly with full situational awareness, the stream can be used to your advantage and parking the boat becomes a really enjoyable part of the day!