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Promise of ‘whale of a time’ at Gosport Marine Festival

CANOEING, kayaking, and trips out to sea will, as usual, feature in this year’s Gosport Marine Festive but so will a whale – inflatable, not real, of course – and all for free.

The biennial celebration of Gosport’s maritime position, and particularly the leisure activities on offer around its coast, will be at Haslar Marina, and the nearby Cockle Pond, Holy Trinity Church green, and Millennium Timespace on Saturday, September 4.

There is an emphasis on opportunities for young people in different age groups to experience a range of water-based pursuits – canoeing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and sailing plus trips on the wheelchair accessible catamarans Wetwheels and Spirit of Scott Bader.

The booking line for these free activities is now open and even though there are more than 600 free places available, demand in previous years has been such that festival chairman Barry Easton-Corke, advises, “if you want to get out on the water, get online and book your slot now”.

Booking is also required for the land-based ‘THE WHALE – ‘Plastic Ocean’ sessions presented by Circo Rum Ba Ba women’s theatre troupe who use puppets, comedy and music to follow the journey of a Leatherback Turtle as it, the whale and other sea creatures battle to survive in an ocean full of rubbish.

The Millennium Timespace will have music and dancing throughout the day and will host the opening and closing ceremonies while on Holy Trinity green there will be displays by maritime organisations and a range of refreshments, and in the church Little Shipmates will keep those too young to go afloat occupied.

Tied up in Haslar Marina ready for inspection will be a Border Force Coastal Patrol vessel alongside historic ships such as the Steam Pinnace 199, HMS Medusa, WW2 High Speed Launch 102, and a landing craft.

Further information about the festival can be found at:

The booking line can be accessed by either clicking through from the festival’s website or by going to:

Booking is on a ‘first come first served’ basis, although stand-by entrants to each activity will be taken in case one or more people do not turn up on the day.

All necessary safety equipment will be provided but those who take part in the water-based activities should be wearing clothes which they don’t mind getting wet.

Organised by Portsmouth Harbour Marine in partnership with Gosport Borough Council, the event is supported by the Andrew Simpson Foundation, boatfolk, the owners of Haslar Marina, Hampshire County Council, Wates Residential, Gosport Hospital Radio, MAA, British Marine Trades Association, ASDA, Seldén Mast, Lee-on-the-Solent and Stokes Bay Sailing Clubs, Gosport Sea Cadets, Gosport Scouts, Victoria Quay, Regional City Airports (Solent Airport), SubSea Craft and Premier Gosport Marina.

Photo (above): having fun with paddles during the 2019 Gosport Marine Festival