With so much attention focused on chartering in the Mediterranean or Caribbean, have we forgotten how beautiful the south coast of the UK actually is for chartering?
I have been in the charter industry for 18 years, and have seen areas like Croatia grow from a little known charter destination to one of the most popular and amazing places to charter (I'm actually chartering there myself this summer with my family). But I still love sailing on the south coast of the UK, with its stunning coastlines, great sailing conditions, historical harbours, fantastic pubs & restaurants, and of course it’s sailing & yacht clubs.
I have seen the quality of yachts available to charter in the UK increase, you can now charter with a day skipper certificate (or equivalent), a Hanse 458, 485 or the high-performance Dufour 430, 43 GL, are perfect yachts for a week cruising.
Pic: Dufour 430 Yacht
The picturesque village of Hamble has a few fleets of charter yachts and is a perfect place to start a week's charter. After the boat handover, you can spend an evening having dinner at the charming Grade II listed village in The Bugle.
Setting off the next morning, a quick motor down the Hamble river, and you are into Southampton water, where you can hoist the sails and get sailing. You will soon be in The Solent, sailing West along the coast of the Isle of Wright you will come to Yarmouth. Yarmouth has had a settlement for over a thousand years, Henry VIII built the castle in 1547 to protect the Solent from invasions, plus it now has a well-provisioned marina to spend an evening in.
Leaving Yarmouth you’ll first pass the impressive Hurst Castle another of Henry VIII”s fortresses, then the famous The Needles. After passing over Poole Bay you arrive at Studland Bay, a great place to anchor for the night. The bay is guarded by the 'Old Harry' rocks, ashore there is the lovely pub called the Bankes Arms with stunning views of your anchored yacht and Poole Bay. If you want something a little more upmarket you can try the famous Pig On The Beach. There are also lovely walks across The Downs to Swanage.
After leaving Studland bay you will have the day passage to Dartmouth, passing St Alban's Head, Portland Bill and over Lyme Bay. Arriving into Dartmouth via sea always amazes me, it is just so well hidden, it isn't until you pass Dartmouth castle and turn slightly left up the River Dart that Dartmouth and Kingswear come into full view. Dartmouth has a long Naval history, to this day the Navy still trains its officers at the Naval college which stands above the town.
After leaving Dartmouth and rounding Start Point, the next stop would be Salcombe. Mooring in Salcombe is on visitor mooring buoys in the harbour, which makes it very peaceful and an easy way to appreciate the area of outstanding natural beauty, coastal views, and rolling surrounding countryside. The Gin School at Salcombe Gin is well worth a visit as well as a stroll down Island street saying hi to the boys at JAM INDUSTRIES along the way.
By this time, you are thinking, why haven't I chartered the boat for two weeks!! As there is so much more west to explore, Newton Ferrers, Fowey, St Mawes, Mylor, Falmouth, Helford just to name a few.
Turning east out of Salcombe and back across Lyme Bay, the next stop is Weymouth. With its busy harbour it has a large range of restaurants, bars, pubs and takeaways (Fish & Chips aboard the boat is a great option!).
From Weymouth, it is back to The Solent, and Beaulieu River. The lower part of the river is lined with beautiful houses with their gardens stretching to the water's edge. Bucklers Hard is the stop for the evening. Bucklers Hard was once a major shipbuilding area, located in the heart of the New Forest, the wood from the forest was used to make the great wooden ships for merchant trade and Royal Navy, which included the building of Lord Nelson's HMS Agamemnon, which was used in the famous battle of Trafalgar. Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour is a great marine to spend the night, the Bucklers Hard Maritime Museum is well worth a visit, plus The Master Builders is well worth a visit for a drink or a bite to eat.
After leaving the Beaulieu River it is back to the Hamble and the end of a stunning week of cruising. But don't worry we can offer long weekend charters if you want to fit another trip during the year.