This coverage deals with the River Medina after it leaves Cowes and makes it's way to Newport, the county town of the Isle of Wight...
Once past Cowes the River changes character completely, leaving behind the industrial scenery and moving through open countryside. The river is well marked by buoyage and moorings, and it is quite easy to find your way as far as the Folly Inn, as even at low water a boat drawing 1.5 m should be able to work their way up there.
There are pontoon moorings at the Folly, most not being connected to the shore. The Folly Inn welcomes visiting yachtsman and provides some facilities for their convenience.
After the Folly the River progressively dries out, and to reach Island Harbour and lock in a suitable rise of tide will be needed. Here all the normal Marina facilities are available, except that provisioning is difficult. Normal draught vessels have little trouble entering and leaving Island Harbour via its lock.
In fact after leaving Cowes the only option for provisioning is really Newport. This can be reached by shoal draft vessels prepared to take the ground, or long keeled vessels prepared to lean against the wall. At high water neaps there is less than 2 m at Newport, with around 2.5 m at Springs. All main town facilities can be found in Newport, although this is not a seafaring town as such.
After the hectic comings and goings of Cowes, this section of the River makes a very pleasant and rural contrast.
The seaward approaches to Cowes have already been covered, and this article continues where that left off, approximately off East Cowes Marina: The River has...
plenty of water around this area and it is simply a matter of following it down past the conspicuous Kingston powerstation with its chimneys on your port side keeping fairly central for the best water. Red can buoy number eight (Fl.R.2s) and red can buoy number 10 (Fl.R.6s) will be left on your port hand side.
Shortly after number 10 the River bears slightly to the east, the lines of moorings clearly show the way on your starboard side, and the deepest water is fairly close to these.
The Folly Inn will now be heaving into view, with INN clearly marked in huge lettering on the roof. This lies on the eastern side, and roughly opposite this are the clearly marked visitors pontoons for which there is a charge.
From here the River dries completely and consultations will need to be made with the tide tables if planning to go further.
Anchoring is not allowed in this reach because of cables, and in any case would not be practical given the narrowness of the channel and the proximity of moorings. This patch of the River is still under the control of the Cowes Harbour Authorities, but from the Folly Inn onwards the River falls under the control of the Newport harbourmaster, and the Isle of Wight Council.
With a suitable rise of tide boats of up to 2 m draft and 15 m long can get into Island Harbour, via its lock. From the Folly Inn it is a matter of moving up River with pile moorings on either side to show the way, and when these finish there is red and green buoyage to follow. In the region of the third red buoy you pass on your port hand side, and the second green buoy on your starboard side lies the entrance to the lock, with the unmistakable control tower looking out over the river. The entrance channel makes a straight line outwards from the lock to join the main River and is marked by two small red buoys. Entry to the Marina through the lock will be covered shortly.
If continuing on to Newport Quay follow the buoyage onwards, the bottom of the River does not particularly form a steep gutway, but tends to shelve more gradually. Soon after passing under the electricity cables (with a clearance of over 30 m) you should be able to identify and pick up the leading marks which are a pair of white posts on the eastern bank, forming a transit on 192°. These are lit, but it's unlikely a stranger will be making his way here at night. On your port side you will pass a Harvester pub restaurant and a Travelodge Hotel, and you're virtually there now. On the starboard side lie the mud berths and pontoons of the Odessa Shipyard, with various small and not so small craft in residence, and on your port side will appear the pontoons of Newport Harbour specifically for small craft that can take the ground (bilge keelers). Photo number 11 in the gallery shows this pontoon clearly looking back towards the Folly, with the berths of the Odessa Shipyard clearly visible on the other side of the River.
Long keeled craft prepared to take the ground and lean on the wall carry on a bit further and moor up on the port side opposite the Bargemans Rest pub. At this point the River is bridged and further navigation is impossible.
Berths available for visiting yachts or motorboats include...
Floating pontoons at the Folly Inn, Island Yacht Harbour (floating pontoons, lock in), and drying berths at Newport Town Quay. These are all now described with access details and prices:
The first berthing options when approaching from Cowes are the pontoons off the Folly Inn. On the Western side (starboard) there are a couple of long isolated pontoons clearly marked for visitors. Deeper draft craft lay on the outsides, nearer the centre of the River, while shallow draft craft use the insides.
In spite of the depths shown on the chart most normal craft remain afloat here at all times, although touching the soft mud bottom is a possibility at LWS. Simply look for a suitable place and tie up on the pontoon. Someone will presently appear to relieve you of a modest amount of money. (£1.50 per metre per night with short stays somewhat less). There is no water or electricity on the pontoons. These pontoons can get very busy on summer weekends, and it may be worth contacting Cowes Harbour Control on 01983 293952 or VHF channel 69 to check availability of space at these times. It is worth knowing that the Folly Launch which operates a ferry service to the inn (and to Cowes) can reserve a berth for you. Contact them in advance by email:- [email protected] with your required dates, length of boat and boat's name. To save you inflating your tender there are two water taxis operating in the area, Folly Launch (c/s Folly launch on Ch 72 or 07884 400046) and Folly Waterbus (c/s Waterbus on Ch 77 or 07974 864627)
There are a couple of alongside berths with walk ashore access on the Folly side pontoon, but I've never yet seen a space available here.
Probably the only anchoring opportunity for craft able to take the ground is just past the Folly and the pile moorings to the West of the channel as marked by the two green buoys in clear sight of Island Harbour's lock and control tower. The riverbed shelves gently in this area, but the usual precautions about finding a place to settle down on the mud apply.
Island Harbour can be approached and entered by craft drawing 2 m about an hour either side of MHWS, and craft 1.5 m draft about two hours either side. The lock is manned from 8 AM to 9 PM during the summer and 8 AM to 5:30 PM off-season, and craft wishing to enter should contact Island Harbour Marina on VHF channel 80 or telephone 01983 539994 as passing the Folly. The control tower looking over the River is unmistakable, and a long holding pontoon pokes out into the River at right angles from the southern side of the lock. The new approach channel follows the line of this pontoon, and is marked on the northern side by small red buoys. Entry to the lock is controlled by simple traffic lights, wait for a green light to enter. Holding on ropes are provided within the lock, so generally it's just a matter of fendering up well entering the lock and hanging on as the water level adjusts. Quite often the lock will completely open for free flow around high water, again with entry and exit controlled by the traffic lights. The staff will direct you to a berth as you enter. There are no tidal streams to worry about within and a fair amount of room to play with once inside. All normal Marina facilities (except fuel and provisions) are available here. This summer (2018) visiting boats will be charged at £2.80 per metre per night (Mon to Thur) and £3.20 per metre per night (Fri to Sun). Shore power is available as an extra (£2.85 per night)) Photo number 4 in the gallery shows part of the lock with the holding on ropes visible, while photos number 5 and 6 show plenty of room to manoeuvre once inside, and the fuel pump that has been defunct as long as I can remember.
Shelter once within is near perfect, and makes a great change from the frenetic comings and goings elsewhere...... added to this is the beautiful rural setting.
The marina came under new ownership in of January 2013 but retained the same personnel on the ground. The new owners are a London based company and this is their first venture into the marina world so it will be interesting to see what they make of it.
An update on their plans. The paddle steamer wreck is still there but they do plan to move it sometime. They have decided not to retail fuel and the pontoon out in the river has not materialised and is on the back burner.
A link to their website is below:
At Newport itself the two berthing options are either on the wooden floating pontoons for craft able to sit upright on the mud, or alongside the quay for long keeled craft. There is not too much water here so careful tidal calculations will need to be made.... at HWS there will be about 2.5 m, while at HWN around 1.85 m. The harbour dries completely to a firm muddy bottom, not too banked up on the quayside wall. Water and electricity (£1 per night) are available here, as well as fender boards for leaning against the quay, and toilets ashore. The harbour master at Newport monitors VHF channel 69 or telephone 01983 823885, and his office will be found close to the quay. The 2018 costs here are £12 for boats under 6m, £18 per night for boats between 6 and 9 m, and £24 for boats up to 12 m. A winter discount applies between the beginning of November and the end of March.
Photos numbers 11 through to 14 show Newport, and in number 14 you can just make out two long keeled yachts dried out against the quay, one leaning forwards at a bit of an angle.
The link to the Newport harbour authority is below:
The Odessa Shipyard on the Western side of the river opposite Newport Quay berths some surprisingly large vessels in it's accommodating mud as well as some yachts and motorboats. If seeking a long-term or possible live aboard berth it may be worth trying them, telephone 01983 524337.
Updated March 2020
At the Folly Inn is a popular slipway for launching and recovering small craft, with the inn itself being very accommodating with parking.
For a visiting yachtsman on the pontoons access is either by dinghy or the Folly Launch on VHF channel 72. The pub is well set up for sailing types, and indeed the place is a bit out of the way for access by car, and extremely difficult for public transport.
Showers are available for visiting yachtsman and water in Jerry cans can be had ashore. Drinks and meals are available in this large establishment, and it is deservedly popular with sailors. Not much else is available but there is a large mobile home site nearby for retired people, where basic provisions may be obtained.
It is possible to walk along the river bank to Island Harbour if you wish to check it out, or sample " The Bistro" there.
Island Harbour is another of these places totally isolated from town or shops. Apart from the Marina there is a smallish housing development, but no shops as such. There is a bus stop just down the lane from the marina with regular services to Ryde, Newport and Cowes. As a place to keep a boat it has much to recommend it (providing you have a car). Facilities are quite good and include toilets and showers, water and electricity on the pontoons and a laundry ashore. A family run boatyard and chandlery deal with all the boaty side of things very efficiently. The small Chandlers has moved into a new building and is even more well-stocked with useful things (rather than clothing) including Calor gas and camping gas, and the yard can handle many different kinds of work, with vast areas of hard standing available for storage and some very attractive winter package deals. Most normal size yachts can be lifted here, and the yard ashore is popular for wintering with those who keep their boats on moorings in the River.
The Bistro bar restaurant on site offers good food and drinks, and is quite a pleasant place to sit outside of on a summer's morning with a bacon sandwich and a coffee. This facility has been doubled in size since the marina came into the new ownership and has the addition of a large childrens' playground
The Marina is a popular venue for club outings originating on the mainland, and at these times it can be a bit busy.
Any shopping will need to be bought in Newport, which is a good half hours hike away following the River to Newport Quay. This pathway has been resurfaced by the Council and is now a popular cycle track. For a big stock up you could try Co-Op in Newport, and get them to deliver it to you later at Island Harbour.... this has worked well in practice.
The facility has passed the initial phases of new ownership so any changes from here on in will be improvements though they still have some things on their bucket list.
Facilities at Newport consist of water, electricity, and toilets. Here also there is a fair amount of hard standing ashore over the winter. The harbourmaster organises this and it is accomplished with a mobile crane and batches of craft being dealt with one after another. The boats sit rather strangely in the Council car park...
Bottled gas and paraffin can be obtained at Hursts the ironmongers, who's large main branch is close to Newport Quay and well worth a good rummage. Most of the High Street names will be found in Newport along with the banks and their cash machines. Internet access is available at the library. Co-Op and Morrison's supermarkets are close by along with butchers, bakers and fruiterers.
Newport being the main town of the Isle of Wight is the epicentre of the Southern Vectis bus service, and public transport to all parts of the island can be had here.
There are signs of Roman settlement in the area, which was probably known as Medina, including two known Roman villas one of which, Newport Roman Villa, is excavated and open to the public.
There was little later use until after the Norman conquest with the first charter being granted late in the twelfth century. In 1377 an invading French force burnt down much of the town while attempting to take Carisbrooke Castle, then under the command of Sir Hugh Tyrill. A group of French were captured and killed, then buried in a tumulus later nicknamed Noddies Hill, a "noddy" being medieval slang for a body. This was later corrupted to Nodehill, the present-day name for a part of central Newport - a name confusing to many as the area is flat.
The town was incorporated as a borough in 1608. The town's position as an area of trade accessible to the sea meant it rapidly took over from Carisbrooke as the main central settlement, eventually absorbing the latter as a suburb. The borough ceased to exist in 1974 after the incorporation of the larger Borough of Medina, which was itself superseded in 1995 by a single unitary authority covering the whole of the Isle of Wight.
In recent times, Newport has undergone an influx of changes, with two shopping centres and all new road directions to show for the town's recent development efforts. Newport Quay has also been re-developed, with art galleries such as the Quay Arts Centre, and new flats converted from old warehouses.
Newport is the principal town of the Isle of Wight. Transportation connections link all major towns to Newport, making it the main shopping centre and location for public services on the island. The main A3020 and A3054 roads meet at the busy Coppins Bridge Roundabout east of the town centre. The nearest city to the town is Portsmouth, located approximately 13 miles north-east on the mainland. More locally, Ryde, the island's largest town is located to the north-east, with other towns Sandown and Shanklin located to the east, and Cowes to the north.
The River Medina runs through Newport, at which point it becomes a navigable tidal estuary.
At the Folly Inn and Island Harbour you are limited to the more than adequate facilities on hand for eating and drinking.
Newport is a different matter altogether. For things to do there is a fair choice, including the Bus Museum on the Quay, a stones throw from the mooring berths. Also right on top of the Quay is the Bargemans Rest, which serves food and drink and has live music during the season, and also the Arts Centre is based here.
In the Town itself will be found the Museum of Island History and also the Roman Villa. Carisbrooke Castle is nearby where King Charles 1 was imprisoned and overlooks the town.
A multiscreen cinema and theatre are based in the town, and for eating out and drinking you are spoiled for choice. Younger crew may appreciate that there is a bit of nightlife to sample here, with late night drinking available even midweeks. Try Yates in the High St.
From member Gary Flashman:
Tel 01983 297171
The Folly in East Cowes | Greene King Local Pubs (greeneking-pubs.co.uk)
Berthing Master 07974 864627
The Folly is well known for its table dancing (Saturday nights normally) but it has a lot more to offer. They have their own walk ashore pontoon taking you straight to the pub - this needs to be booked in the sailing season - as well as moorings in the centre of the river. Shallow draft boats can moor on the West side of the pontoons with a lovely outlook across the water to the fields and woods beyond, bigger boats have plenty of depth on the East side. They operate their own ferry service from the moorings to the pub, and also (by arrangement) to Cowes.
They have a good kitchen, large dining area both inside and out, and offer a variety of ales. They get very busy in the season so it might make sense to contact them in advance both to arrange a mooring and book a table. They are a favourite destination for rallies.
They have shower facilities, however you may wish to make other arrangements.
Tel 01983 539996
This is a relatively new build marina/residential development, the marina being accessed by lock. Some people like it, some find it soul-less. It has a restaurant and bar.
Walk (or bus) to Newport
It’s a lovely walk from (say) the Folly alongside the river to Newport. There’s plenty to see, including the facility manufacturing massive blades for wind turbines, and the path is well maintained. If you’re not feeling that energetic (or perhaps when you’re coming back after lunch) there’s a bus stop at the top of the lane.
Upper Reaches of the Medina
Navigation is not that difficult, much of it serves commercial shipping and is dredged, but you do need to be careful with the tides and follow the well marked channel. Toward Newport the river dries to a trickle at low water.
Tel 01983 525994
The Council have a pontoon alongside the wall to welcome visiting yachts. It dries to soft mud, but deep keeled boats can lean against the wall, which dries to hard standing. If you’re ok with that they are very comfortable. It can get busy at peak periods.
Shower facilities are available which are clean but basic, and the pontoons are a few minutes walk from the town centre.
Tel 01983 524337
The yard is directly opposite the Council pontoon, and mainly hosts permanent moorings and live-aboards. However if you are into quirky locations, Odessa Boatyard is the place for you. They welcome visitors, though you might find yourself alongside the wall or rafted and you need to be able to take to the mud. Contact them in advance to see if they can accommodate you. They have showers etc, which are clean if basic.
We love it.
Tel 01983 525828
Right at the top of the river, the Bargemans Rest is quite new but has plenty of atmosphere. If the weather is half decent you can sit outside and watch the world go by, alternatively they have a very large bar/dining area inside. They offer a range of well kept ales, and have a good kitchen.
Tel 07791 514668
Like their sister pub in Cowes, this is an ale lover’s destination of choice. All on stillage behind the bar it goes without saying that the ales are well kept and with a wide offering. Again the food is pub grub as it used to be, sarnies pies etc, with no sign of curled up edges. Not to be missed.
Tel 01983 530126
The Man in the Moon is just off the main drag, close to the town centre. It’s a converted church and it has to be said that the conversion has been done with style and with respect for the original architecture.
It is huge, but despite this it always seems to be full. Nonetheless you’re unlikely to be kept waiting for your drink or meal – the service is excellent. It’s the only pub we’ve been to where people form an orderly queue to get to the bar. Why? I’ve no idea.
As always with Spoons there is a good variety of well kept ales and grub, all at excellent prices.
The main town on the Island, Newport offer all you might expect from major shopping chains, banks etc to a very good Morrisons supermarket. It is also the hub for the bus system which is the prime mode of transport for the visiting yachtsman.
The Bus System
The Isle of Wight bus system is as good as it gets. It can take you anywhere you might want or need to get to, the services are frequent and timely and the vehicles are comfortable. They take you through lovely countryside and many are double-deckers so you make the best of the view.
They offer all day, any journey tickets which are both economic and convenient.
They visit the main island tourist and kids destinations, for example Blackgang Chine and Alum Bay, making these accessible to yachties with families.