Dag Pike finds that Dorset's Weymouth Bay has ample facilities and points of interest for the cruising sailor
When you look at the chart, Weymouth Bay looks like the perfect place to anchor.
There is plenty of space and it is well sheltered from prevailing winds from the south west and west, but in good weather it can be a busy place.
It is easy to navigate in using the sounder as a guide to find a suitable water depth, but this is where you might come up against some problems.
Much of the inshore part of Weymouth bay is restricted, with the inshore area designated a bathing area for about a quarter of a mile out to sea from the shore.
This includes the area just north of the harbour entrance.
Further north around the bay there are designated ski boat, sail board and jet-ski launching areas which you might want to keep away from.
On a fine day, the anchorage can be busy with boats just anchoring for a day on the water.
Further out to sea you may find big ships at anchor.
As a yacht you will want to drop the hook closer inshore; a third of a mile from the shoreline you can anchor in around 5m.
The sea bed is reported to be mainly hard sand; it can sometimes be a challenge when trying to get the anchor to dig in firmly rather than skate along the bottom.
It is best to anchor a bit north from the harbour entrance for a quiet night unless you plan to run ashore, in which case you probably want to be closer in to reduce the tender travel time.
A tall concrete tower, which has a flashing red light at the top, marks the harbour entrance and is a good guide to orientate yourself when looking for your anchor spot.
Ashore you can find all the delights of a busy port and a summer beach resort.
There is everything from pubs and fish and chips to sophisticated restaurants.
The Sealife Centre provides plenty of diversion if you are cruising with children or want entertainment in wet weather.
The town also has several chandleries should you need them.
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The south side of the harbour is quieter and home to the Weymouth Sailing Club.
On the north side there is the Royal Dorset Yacht Club, both of which have bars and welcome visitors.
The harbour has good facilities for sailors and diesel is available.
Weymouth Bay may be a bit of a deviation if you are heading directly up or down the English Channel.
If you want to be a bit closer to the mighty Portland Bill then there is another possible anchorage in Newton’s Cove, which is between the Weymouth Harbour entrance and Portland Harbour to the south.
Do not go too close in here because this is a rocky cove.
The best place to anchor is around 300-400m offshore and away from the Portland Breakwater.
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