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McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Chichester Harbour (south), Hayling Island, Hampshire.

Location:

Hayling Island, Chichester Harbour (south).

Spot type:

Tidal harbour location.

Conditions:

Separated by a causeway there are two different locations here in one. On the west side you have a very sheltered, high water lagoon that runs parallel with premium properties and Hayling Island Sailing Club. The lagoon is super flat but only usable an hour or so either side of high water. On the open sea side you have the mouth of Chichester Harbour which features super strong tidal flows, big swell breaking (at times on the Winner Bank – a flint and chalk, shingle covered reef) and heavy boat/marine traffic. Further into the harbour there’s less flow with nooks and crannies aplenty to explore all the way north to Thorney Island and beyond on to Emsworth. But tide is a BIG factor.

Hazards:

Numerous boats and marine traffic, sailing club dinghies during race season (pretty much ten months of the year, extremely strong currents in the harbour mouth, big waves when groundswell hits the Winner bank and some rocks to avoid stepping on. The lagoon (or Creek as it’s affectionately known) dries out as the tide recedes leaving sand and mud flats.

Access:

Put ins are pretty simple and no hassle, as long as you’re a member of HISC (Hayling Island Sailing Club). There’s a barrier at the entrance just after Wittering Road which is normally open, but can have a sentry. This, however, takes you onto sailing club land. Parking can be tricky if you don’t have membership. A second, club card activated, barrier stops any non-HISC member getting vehicles further. Hayling’s RNLI lifeboat station is also to be found here. The crew require access at all times and won’t take kindly to being blocked in. An overflow car park can be found to the right but this is also HISC operated and can often be cordoned off. All said you can, if you can find a parking space, leave your car/van back on the road – as long as you’re not blocking driveways or parked on double yellow lines. It’s then a walk with your gear to access the spot. It can be worth it if you’re prepared to hike.

Popularity (1-10):

10 (with HISC members and locals who live here). 1 if you aren’t a member or don’t own a property that’s local.

Amenities:

HISC itself is one of the leading sailing clubs in the UK. It has a well-attended bar, fully serviced restaurant facilities, snack bar, onsite chandlery (selling SUP kit and spares), changing rooms – with hot showers and underfloor heating! There’s a large boat park and spaces for other watersports kit, including SUPs. BUT, and it’s a big but, you need to be a member or be signed in by other members to have use of these facilities. Spot checks are carried out which can catch the unaware. Other than this Sparkes Marina, which also lies on the western banks of the lagoon, has a chandlery, boat park, restaurant/bar (Drift), which is open to the public. Mistral UK is also based here. You could speak to them about launching from this side if you prefer.

Overview:

Lagoon (the Creek) – Drying out at low water the lagoon is unique in the UK. It’s an extremely sheltered, knee to waist deep, stretch of water, that’s idyllic for learning, families and especially children wanting to get into watersports. Even though it’s a tidal spot it’s not dangerous, unlike Chichester Harbour entrance lying just over the causeway. For nervous newbies, starting to SUP, it’s awesome. The lagoon’s also the gateway to the rest of Chichester Harbour which, at high water, offers a plethora of mini inlets to investigate.

Chichester Harbour entrance – The Winner bank, lying around 100 yards off the beach, can throw up some decent SUP surfing conditions when there’s a swell running. But it’s a full on tidal location and only for experienced SUPers who know what they’re doing. At low water, when it’s slack tide, you get glassy, sheltered seas from the prevailing SW wind. But get it wrong and (especially) on an outgoing ebb you’ll be in the English Channel before you know it. Some paddlers use this location as a put in for jaunts across to West Wittering and up further in to the harbour to explore Chidham, Bosham and Dell Quay – the furthest E point you can get to. Alternatively, with strong E-NE winds, it’s possible to put in at Dell Quay and downwind all the way to HISC. This is a location definitely worth checking out but should be done so in the right way so as to avoid any unwanted ‘incidents’.

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