A long Hampshire’s coastline, tucked into natural harbours and beside riverbanks are waterside communities that are rarely visited by landlubbers like me. Otherwise known as marinas, you may not have considered exploring them, unless you’re in need of a berth. Some of these waterside enclaves have the vibe of an exclusive club. Others are like leisure parks with sailing schools and watersports activities. Some are villagey, lively with cafes, shops and events. Yet others are more like industrial estates with chandleries and sail lofts.
This is Hampshire’s coastal counterculture. They are where the shore-stranded, like me, can go for a lungful of fresh, breezy air, perhaps take a class in dinghy sailing or sip a sundowner and imagine a life on the ocean wave without leaving shore.
It seems to me that they are one of Hampshire’s lesser-known, but more important assets. Typically found away from main thoroughfares, these waterside communities feel like safe harbours (pun intended). With staycations likely for many this year, they offer a holiday destination on the doorstep. Plus, having eateries with outside areas, such as decks and terraces, against a backdrop of yacht masts, they offer the opportunity for relaxed al fresco dining while following government guidelines.
Hospitality is something marinas do well. They’re accustomed to meeting the needs of crews - a sociable bunch spilling out of their boats in search of all-day casual dining, from breakfasts, elevenses and lunch through to supper and late night drinks. In lockdown many of these eateries launched takeaway menus. Post-lockdown their laid-back, whatever, whenever approach has had to be curtailed. Undeterred they’ve adapted – introducing booking and social distancing measures.
In the far east of the county is the aptly named The Deck, a café/restaurant moored alongside the sheltered shores of Chichester Harbour in Emsworth Yacht Harbour. The Deck is overseen by Ed Collison, round the world yachtsman turned restaurateur who has created a relaxed, waterside environment.
“With lockdown we quickly adapted into a takeaway and delivery service which has been a huge success and we are so grateful for the support of our customers”
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