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Ahoy me boys! OutUK's manly mariner Adrian Gillan drifts into port for a two-day naval binge along the coast of the Solent in Portsmouth and Southampton. It gave Nelson his Victory and has given sailors a warm heartfelt passage ever since. We're talking about Portsmouth or Pompey to the locals. No holds barred, or all at sea?
Romantic Hayling Island just east of the city.
The Elms provides a logical first bay to cast anchor, screw on your land legs and start your inland Portsmouth foray. Welcoming and fashionable, it's located on Elm Grove, in the heart of Southsea's boutique shopping district, and its slight lesbian bias gives you a brief moment's respite before upping sail again.

Let the coastal breezes carry you five minutes north to The Old Vic, set in its Mock Tudor mansion on St. Paul's Road, the oldest bar barnacle in town, and infamous site of naval anti-gay witch-hunts in the late 80s and early 90s, when the MoD placed its hidden camera on the first floor windows of the offices opposite! It offers your usual traditional queer staple of drag, karaoke and camp bingo but is extremely friendly. If your beams start to wobble around closing time, you need only stagger upstairs to High Society, a quiet cosy loft, to booze and exchange shanties 'til 2am - just ring the outside buzzer if the main bar is closed by the time you hit port.

Or if you're still warming up for your big club night out, totter over the road to t he trendy new Hampshire Boulevard where all the bright young things hang out ship-shape along it's lengthy bar or in the spacious summer decks outside to the aft. Rumour has it that the main club in town may soon be joining these pre-club venues across the street, to make a right little village of it. But meantime, it's a ten minute cruise uptown past the quaint Guildhall district with its Theatre Royal, City Hall and University, to Marthas & Club 227. Marthas has one of the world's longest bars and lots of room for pool and pre-club boogies around the back. 227 above is the only gay club proper in town - small yet beautifully apportioned with a stage and several chill-out zones around the main floor.

And if the old horn pipe's still strangely aloft, there's a range of options for the old shivered timbers. Just a spit and a spunk from 227, try Tropics Sauna, though its steamy cabins are perversely only open afternoons and evenings, not nights or Sundays - Monday afternoon is reportedly busiest for old sea hands. If it's late night fayre you're after, outdoor cruising's rife back down at South Parade around Henry VIII's little old castle by the sea, though beware - a giant straight club backs onto the area and groups of drunken het hunks have been known to cause trouble.

Far safer is the gay nudist beach by day, right beneath the MoD's rotating radar, a half hour ramble along the coast - follow the coastal road eastward ho until it bends left, then take the single track on the first right, following it between the caravan site and the MoD HQ. You'll soon reach a beach with a sign plainly foretelling of nudity. Waft yet further east along the beach and cast your towel - the MoD radar won't be the only thing picking up naked men!

The Elms (128 Elm Grove; T: 023 9282 4295)
The Old Vic & High Society (104 St Paul's Road; T: 023 9229 7013)
The Hampshire Boulevard (1 Hampshire Terrace; T: 023 9229 7509)
Marthas & Club 227 (227 Commercial Road; T: 023 9285 2951)
Tropics Sauna (2 Market Way; T: 023 9229 6100)

Portsmouth and Southampton are approximately 1 hours away from London Waterloo by South West Trains. For information and booking

Revised January 2015.


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