Summer is finally here!
If you’ve yet to dust off your Gull Dingy, then perhaps this rough guide to a Southern voyage will change your mind.
There’s something truly magical about entering into the bay of the Isle of Wight by sailboat. Simply put, it is the mecca of our Sport. Home to Cowes Week, the longest running sailing regatta in the world, it was home to the first ever America’s cup race, a real boon for the sport in our country. Thanks to the regular events that take place in the Solent over the course of the year there are dozens of places to dock up your boat making the area one of the most convenient locations to sail into.
Before you set off on your journey though, why not spend the evening in Weymouth? This writer’s recommendation is to arrive a day in advance, so that you can make the most of the excellent distractions that this comfortable tourist town has to offer.
Weymouth is a stunning tourist town with more than enough shops and cafes to please the most idle of tourists. For food, there’s the usual raft of restaurants, but the highlight has to be the wonderful Crab House Cafe. With a rotating menu of fresh fish dishes, you might not be able to guarantee what’s on the menu but you can be safe in the knowledge that what you do order will be of the highest calibre. After eating your fill of Crab, roll on over to Wyke Smugglers, a super traditional pub that offers some of the best ales and pub grub that the area has to offer.
Make sure you get an early night in one of the many guesthouses that line the coast, so that you’re well rested and ready to head out on the water at the break of dawn the next day.
You’ll want to set out from Weymouth early in the morning whilst the tide is high, so that you can make the most of the favourable tidal drifts. There are a number of jetties that you can launch from, but if the worse comes to the worst, you can simply walk yourselves into the water.
The first stretch of your journey will have you hugging the Purbeck Heritage Coast. This is a particularly underrated piece of coast line, studded with dramatic cliffs and miniature coves. If you feel like the wind is still on your side, then by all means take a break in one of these bays and enjoy a little lunch. If not, then continue to sail on and you should reach the major bay of Poole within three hours from leaving your start point.
At one point you would have been forgiven for relegating Poole in your mind to one of the many unremarkable coastal towns on Britain’s shores.
However, a recent influx of money into the local economy has allowed this harbour town to invest wisely, making it an ideal stopping off point for a tired sailor in need of a drink or a good meal. Time your visit well and you can catch one of the many cultural events that grace the town each year. This month you can take in the European Maritime Day, have a nibble at A Taste of the South and even consider a new purchase at the Poole Harbour Boat Show.
Although you may be tempted to stop off at the lovely town of Bournemouth on the last leg of your journey, resist the temptation and head straight on across the sound to the Isle of Wight. You might come across a few more vessels if you’re sailing on the weekend, so just be careful not to get too battered by any rogue wake. It’s advisable to book your docking well in advance, there might well be a higher concentration of harbours on this island than anywhere else in the UK, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’ll be a spot for you!