IN THE COUPLE OF MILES of its navigable length the Hamble River accommodates several thousand yachts and power boats. Itís basically one big marina, and on summer weekends the traffic on the water can be relentless. Nevertheless, itís an attractive river with a pretty left bank and every conceivable service for the boating fraternity, so itís not surprising itís so popular.
Entry from Southampton Water is marked by the prominent Hamble Point south cardinal buoy signalling the start of a buoyed channel into the river. There are four main marinas, all offering visitor accommodation and all having extensive services including on-site restaurants.
Hamble Point is nearest the entrance for a quick getaway and has perhaps the most extensive marine services. Thereís an attractive riverside walk to the pretty village of Hamble-Le-Rice along the Strawberry Route (if starting from the Hamble end, find Hamble Common on Green Lane downstream of the Royal Southern YC).
Port Hamble, next up, is just 5 minutes walk from Hamble-Le-Rice which features several restaurants including the popular Bugle pub plus a useful Co-op where provisions may be bought.
Mercury Yacht Harbour, also on the west bank, has a more rural feel. And just before the bridge is Swanwick Marina opposite pretty Burlesdon a few minutes walk away. A little downstream of Swanwick on the east side is Universal Marina, formerly Universal Shipyard, offering both deep water and drying berths (call ahead on T 01489 574272 during the day).