ON A lovely summer’s day, there is nothing as relaxing as a trip out on the Solent.
Skimming across the water, the cool ocean breeze in your hair, looking out at the beautiful scenery and taking in some of the area’s most interesting and historic sights.
For visitors to one of the area’s best shopping and dining centres – Gunwharf Quays – a trip by boat can also be a fun and relaxing alternative to sitting in a hot and sweaty car.
A new initiative called Park and Sail started on Saturday and saw scores of visitors park at Portsmouth International Ferry Port and take to the waves.
For just £5 for the whole day, the Park and Sail service is not only enjoyable, it’s cheaper than parking at Gunwharf’s underground car park, which costs £2.90 for two hours and goes up to £10 for seven to nine hours.
Kalvin Baugh, deputy ferry port manager, said ‘With families looking to squeeze extra value out of every day this summer we’re delighted to offer our new park and sail service to Gunwharf Quays.
‘We are able to provide a full day’s parking and a return boat trip through the docks for just £5 for the whole family. It’s got to be the most fun way of getting to the attractions on Portsmouth’s busy waterfront, and amazing value too.’
Stephen Wright, security supervisor at the port, said: ‘It will stop a lot of traffic going into Portsmouth and into Gunwharf Quays. It reduces traffic and stops congestion. It’s lovely on the boat and you get to see all the ships in the dockyard.’
The service leaves from the ferry port on the hour from 10am every Saturday and Sunday, with return journeys leaving Gunwharf at half-past the hour, until 6.30pm. People are advised to arrive 15 minutes prior to departure time, as a bus takes them from the multi-storey car park to the water’s edge.
From the pontoon, a 75-seat boat takes them to the heart of Gunwharf, sailing past some of the large naval ships in port. A guide gives an informative explanation of all the boats in dock and points out some of the historic features along the way, such as Portchester Castle.
Pip the whale, the port’s mascot, was waving off people on the first departure, and took the first ferry sailing.
The service runs until August
People travelled from all over the south to take the first departure of the new Park and Sail service.
Sultana Ladhani, 24, and Alykhan Kassam, 25, travelled down from their home in London for a special day out.
Alykhan said: ‘We thought we would do some holiday shoppung and we saw this place online and thought why not park and sail and make a day out of it.’
Sultana said: ‘We were looking on the website, saw this and thought we would come to Portsmouth, it’s great.’
Derek Penn, 48, was onboard with his teenage son and daughter, Michael and Kecia, and his daughter’s friend, Taylor Choyce.
Derek, from Farnham, said: ‘It’s a really good fun thing to do. We were coming down to Portsmouth for the day anyway so I thought we would park and sail, my daughter’s friend is from Coventry so she hasn’t seen ships like the Victory before.’
Steve and Cathy Allen, from Hedge End, were with 16-year old daughter Teaghan.
Steve said: ‘I think it’s a really good idea. It always pays to do a bit of reserach into parking when you vist new places, to find out the cheapest way to pay.’
Some had come from closer to home. Mother and daughter, Louise and Sophie Peed, had come from Port Solent.
Sophie, 15, said: ‘It’s a lot more fun than just driving. Usually we spend 15 minutes just trying to find a parking space, so it’s a lot nicer and quicker.’