Come down to Poole Harbour Dorset for a fun and safe way to learn water sports like wind surfing or sailing

poole harbour water sports

Poole harbour in Dorset is one of the largest natural harbours in the world.It also has to be one of the shallowest.

This has it's advantages and disadvantages.The centre of the harbour has to be constantly dredged to allow the cross channel ferries to get in and out of the harbour.

It also means that it is the perfect venue for trying out a water sport for the first time.You see, go out from the shore for 100 metres and the water is still only up to your knees.So if you fall in then there is no problem,though a soaking is unavoidable.

One Saturday recently I was on a stag do.The day started at about 9am down at Poole harbour .

It was a bit foggy and almost no wind, not untypical for this part of Dorset.This would prove to be a problem. We were met by three guys from a local company Ocean Water Sports who teach sailing and wind surfing amongst others. To start things off we had the obligatory safety briefing before donning west suits and life jackets.

Then it was straight into windsurfing.Now I had done this as a child but without much success and took it no further so I was feeling a bit wary.After some brief words of instructions as to how to attach the mast to the hull we walked out about 50 metres to where the water was about ankle deep.

This actually proves useful if you are just a novice, as falling off will happen frequently when you first start.Hard to get back on from deep water.Once up it is a question of standing close to the mast and leaning back.

Alas the lack of wind meant none of us were going very far.Once we did get going turning round became a problem.Shallow water to the rescue again,just get off turn the hull round and off you go.

After a few turns up and down Poole harbour it was time to try some other water sports, so we switched over to the catamarans, the two hull boats which go really quickly or would do if there as some wind. These boats were already rigged for us in the shallows so no sail hoisting was necessary.

By about 1030 there was a slight breeze which is all these boats need to get up a fair speed.I was able to helm one boat myself having done some sailing around Sydney Harbour back in the 90s.

There was a slight complication in that my tutor had succeeded in breaking the tiller but we managed to put in a few jibes and tacks before the wind really got up.I got out as far as the deep water channel but did a hasty about turn when a large Brittany Ferries Cargo ship came into view.

In this basic introduction you will learn how to read the wind and how to turn the boat around both into and away from the wind.Also how to set the mainsail and jib(that's the smaller sail at the front).

Once back to shore we found a freshwater shower down on the ocean side of the Sandbanks spit ( yes that very expensive bit of Dorset) to wash away the salt at the end of an enjoyable morning.Let's hope there is more wind next time.

The cost of the morning was £25 per person though it would have been £20 had there been ten or more of us.I felt we could have done with a bit more tuition.As I have done sailing before this was not a problem for me,but for the windsurfing all we were taught was now to get on the board and the best place to stand.At least some tips on turning round would have been useful.

Oh and watch out for parking fines.In this part of Dorset the Council will charge you for parking just about anywhere ,here it is £5 for four hours. Bring some change

But a great place to learn a water sport in safe shallow waters, so why not give it a go.If you want a bit more adventure why do some kayaking on the Jurassic Coast and see Dorset from a different angle.For more information go here

Animal Windfest

Don't forget the annual Animal Windfest is on again this year around Poole Harbour and Sandbanks.The event takes place from 10th to 12th September 2010.

You can take in Windsurfing,kitesurfing,wakeboarding or have a go yourself.

Check out the website here for more information.

Return to The Dorset Guru Home Page