One of the most popular anchorages on the South Coast of England, Studland Bay is in the southwest of Poole Bay just outside Poole Harbour. It is a super anchorage, especially sheltered from northerly, westerly and southerly winds, although it is open to the North East around to the southeast, so can be bumpy with winds coming from this direction. With a sandy beach, cliff walks and soft sand the bay is ideal for swimmers, paddle boarding and watersports. Walk up the cliffs to the Old Harry Rocks or paddle over to them.
When anchoring be aware that Studland Bay is a Marine Conservation Zone due to its resident long-snouted seahorses and special seagrass beds. Please observe any buoyed off areas and do not anchor in them and keep speeds down in the anchorage itself.
Initial fix – 50° 38.944′ N, 001° 55.484′ W. This takes you to a point about 800 metres north of Handfast Point on the 5-metre contour. Then proceed into the main area of the bay itself to the south of the Swash Channel.
The largest natural harbour in Europe, Poole Harbour is a stunning location and ideal for watersports. It has a specific zone for waterskiing inside the harbour. It’s surrounded by woodland, beaches and country walks as well as Poole Town which offers a variety of shopping, bars and restaurants.
As well as being a busy harbour for commercial vessels, leisure boats and watersports, Poole Harbour is an important site for nature conservation and wildlife, with many protected species of wading birds. In recognition of its spectacular habitat, it is a designated SSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and a SPA (Special Protection Area).
There are anchorages inside the harbour, as well as the beaches of Studland Bay and the Bournemouth seafront, running north-eastwards from outside the harbour. There are plenty of marinas to berth in and places to eat at Poole Quay, in the town centre and at many of the marinas.
Poole Quay Boat Haven and Port of Poole Marina are closest to the town centre, with Salterns Marina and Parkstone Bay Marina offering a slightly quieter place to berth.
Approaching from the Solent, the entrance is identifiable to the north of the high cliffs of Anvil Point. When nearer, the white rocks of Old Harry (Handfast Point) are clearly visible, which are close to the entrance channel. The Swash Channel is clearly marked by green and red buoys for larger vessels. Small craft are recommended to approach the entrance using the Boat Channel to the West of the Swash Channel.
The Harbour is accessible at all states of tide and entry is only dangerous in very strong S and SE winds, particularly on the ebb tide.
The entrance channel “The Swash” passes between the Training Bank, on the western side, and Hook Sands to the east. Be careful of the chain ferry that regularly crosses just at the entrance, and the ebb tide that can run at 3 to 4 knots. This can be a busy area for leisure and commercial boats.
Navigate with care through the harbour staying clear of all shipping and adhering to any instructions given by the Harbour Master patrol officers.
Always book your visitor berth in advance to guarantee they have room for you.
There are various anchorages around the harbour, primarily in the area called South Deep, the channel to the left as you pass through the entrance. Follow this channel towards Goathorn Point and Green Island you can anchor on the side of the channel. The anchorage is mud rather than sand.
Brownsea Island has no pontoons or moorings for private boats. although you can anchor to the South West of the Island, north of Furzey Island and get ashore from there.
Shipstal Point is a beautiful anchorage just over a mile west of Brownsea Island and is a great place for bird watching. There are moorings and room to anchor between the saltings. You need high water to get in and neap tides are best.
Tides & depths – Poole Harbour has a small tidal range between low water and high water. Springs have a range of about 1.8m with high water of just over 2m. At neaps it can be less than a metre with high water of 1.8m. Be warned – the shallows on the chart remain that (shallow!!) even at high water springs.
Quiet Zone – the entire area to the South of Brownsea Island and extending from South Haven Point (the port hand point at the harbour entrance) to Patchin’s Point is a quiet zone.
Max 6 knots and please keep noise to a minimum.
Things to do:
Restaurants & cafes – there are plenty of places to eat at Poole Quay and in the Town Centre. Some of the marinas listed also have on site cafes and restaurants.
Shell Bay Bistro and Restaurant – Set just inside the harbour entrance Shell Bay is a super stop for lunch with a family-friendly beach and a pontoon where you can land. Call Shell Bay Marine 01929 450340 to arrange landing and water taxis.
Brownsea Island – Explore this National Trust Island’s many sandy paths and spot the red squirrels. You can anchor off and walk ashore as there are no landing pontoons for visitors.
Watch the kite surfing and windsurfing. Whitely Lake is the shallow area in the northeast corner of the harbour. This area is reserved for kite surfers and windsurfers. Spectacular to watch on a windy day where you can anchor in the shallows nearby.
Waterskiing and wakeboarding is permitted inside Poole Harbour, but you must obtain a permit from the Poole Harbour Website or Harbour Office. The designated water ski area is in the Wareham Channel and is marked by blue and white stakes, yellow buoys and notice boards. Waterskiers are exempt from the speed limits when in this area..