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Sailors' warning over 'shingle island' near Hurst Castle

LOCAL sailors are facing a fresh hurdle in the Solent with the emergence near Keyhaven of a shingle bank which has been dubbed “Lentune Island”.

Lymington sailor Nick Ryley was among the first to make landfall, planting a flag to “claim” the new feature which has appeared over the winter.

He told the A&T: “This island, so-called by us Lentune Island, has sprung up in a short time across the route most locals use when avoiding the tide whilst coming into the Solent on the ebb, and exiting the Solent on the flood.

Sailors Nick Ryley and Chris Fox on "Lenture Island"
Sailors Nick Ryley and Chris Fox on "Lenture Island"

“It needs wider acknowledgement to avoid many future groundings for the unwary.”

The shingle bar, to the east side of Hurst Spit, is fully submerged at high tide and is not accurately shown on nautical charts – prompting a warning from the RNLI.

Reported to measure more than 100 metres by 20 metres, the evolving ‘island’ has been captured in drone footage widely circulated among the sailing community.

However, as the warmer spring weather approaches, some fear that unsuspecting visitors could run aground.

A spokesperson for the RNLI revealed that Lymington lifeboat station manager Alastair Mackay and his team have been watching the progress of the shingle bar for some time.

“We have circulated several videos taken by the crew from the sea and the shore amongst the rest of the RNLI team at Lymington and other boat users,” said the spokesperson.

“We have also passed them on to Solent coastguard to let them know what is happening.”

The rescue organisation is warning that after navigating eastwards around the shallow bar off Hurst Castle known as The Trap, sailors should be extra careful if they intend to head towards Keyhaven as the new shingle bar extends east of Hurst Spit in an area that many boaters would have previously used to turn northwards towards Keyhaven.

The RNLI added: “Racing boats should also take extra care to the north of mark A which is close to where the shifting shingle bank has appeared.

“The water is considerably shallower than before and it would appear that its location and size continue to change, and our advice would be to consider current nautical charts inaccurate in this area.”

Jason Crane, who runs Hurst Castle, said the ‘island’ was fully submerged at high tide and has been continuously changing shape.

He added: “It appeared a few months ago but it seems to change shape according to the winds and tides.

“We have been watching it and continue to photograph it as it evolves – the beach does move daily. It has always been a fluid thing.”

Hurst Castle reopens to the public on 1st April.

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