Sailing Yacht moored in Swanage Bay

We thought we’d write a bit of info about our recent sail from Weymouth to Swanage including how we planned our sail and which way we actually went.

There are a number of things to consider on this short passage. There is St Albans Ledge which can get very rough, the overfalls at Peveril Point and the firing ranges of Lulworth who don’t like you sailing through when they’re firing!

The first two are normally worse in a wind against tide situation so ideally we wanted both the wind and tide with us.

High water Portland was to be at 10.13 on our chosen day. We use www.tidetimes.co.uk for tide times. On looking at our tidal stream atlas we could establish that the tide would be turning in our favour approximately 2 hours before high water. This would mean we would have the tide going with us, pushing us along. It would mean a departure time of 8.00am.

The forecast was looking good. 24 hour forecast on our Navtex was showing a west or south-west wind, force 2 or 3 increasing to 4 at times. The sea state was smooth or slight with good visibility. Our various weather apps showed similar conditions.

As it is the summer holidays the firing ranges were not in operation. You can get information about the times on the GOV.UK website. You can also call up Lulworth Range Safety Boat on Channel 8 or telephone 01929 404819. When the ranges are in use mariners are asked to avoid their sea danger areas which extends approximately 6 nautical miles south of Lulworth Cove and to keep at least 1+ miles clear of the target buoys on St.Albans ledge.

Despite the ranges not firing we decided against taking the inshore route which takes you in very close to St Albans head and opted for the offshore route to take us right out around the ledge and the tide race.

By looking at the tidal stream atlas we roughly calculated that our course to steer from Weymouth would be 120°

Our intended waypoints were as follows:

WP1 – 50°31.00N 002°03.50W – Just past St Albans ledge

WP2 – 50°35.00N 001°.56.00W – Off of Durlston Head

WP3 – 50°36.40N 001°.55.00W – End of overfalls at Peveril Point

WP4 – 50°36.70N 001°56.50W – Swanage

The actual route we sailed…

These are the extracts taken from our log book:

8.00am
Departed Weymouth

8.45am
50°36.07N 002°23.72W COG(T)110° SOG 4.0kts WIND 5.0kts from South East

10.00am
50°33.64N 002°13.79W COG(T)116° SOG 5.9kts WIND 7.1kts from South/South East

11.25am (WP1)
50°31.50N 002°01.30W COG(T)69° SOG 5.5kts WIND 4.8kts from South West

12.00pm
50°33.20N 001°57.74W COG(T)35° SOG 4.9kts WIND 4.3kts from South West

1.30pm
Arrived Swanage – 50°36.70N 001°56.98W

According to Navionics our maximum speed during the trip was 10.3kts with an average speed of 4.9knts and the total sail was 27.2nm.

We experienced some waves at St Albans ledge but nothing too scary. The tide was in our favour and conditions were light, plus we were also fairly near the end of the ledge.

We lost a bit of time at waypoint 1 as we had to rig a preventer line due to being in a near downwind situation and at Durlston our auto pilot and instruments decided to give up. Turns out our batteries had drained – some more research and investigatory work needed!

We picked up a mooring buoy belonging to Swanage Sailing Club who have a number of swing moorings available in the bay. The cost was £10 a night, fantastic considering it was also Swanage Carnival week. Payment is posted through the letterbox at the sailing club – they have a little box with envelopes in it. On the envelope you write your boat name and the number of nights you are staying, pop the cash in the envelope and post it through the letterbox!

Yacht in Swanage Bay

The sailing club were also kind enough to allow us to tie up our tender to some trailers they had on their beach, although it is a bit of a hike up the beach. Unfortunately Swanage is not very well catered for secure tender/dinghy storage for visiting yachts and boats. There is a steep concrete slip just by the stone pier which has 4 or 5 rings to which you can tie your dinghy. However there is a step up to it so if your tender is fairly heavy it could be a bit of a struggle. Also at busy times, like it was, this gets full quickly. A couple of the tenders actually looked like they had been left there for some time! Another downside for us was the fact this area is right by a small beach popular with children and dogs. It was very busy so getting to the slip was difficult. We also didn’t like the idea of so many people sitting and ‘operating’ around our tender and outboard!

However there is a water taxi service which runs at peak times such as weekends and school holidays – https://www.facebook.com/Swanagewatertaxi/. Lee who runs it is fantastic…..a great helpful guy who provides a very prompt and reliable service. The cost is £2.50 per person and it runs from 9.00am until 6.00pm.

Swanage is a lovely bay but when the wind turns easterly the bay is not a pleasant place to be. This is what happened to us on our last night. The sea turns rolly and the waves kick up. It was time to move on…..

VIDEO: Sailing Weymouth to Swanage

Check out our short video of our sailing trip to Swanage. If you like it please give us a thumbs up and click subscribe to follow our channel. Thank you!

Disclaimer:This is an account of our planning and sailing. Whilst we hope this information may be of help please do not rely solely on it. Please check the conditions carefully and plan your own route. Stay safe!

Weymouth to Swanage : Passage Planning and Sailing

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