Yacht charter in the Solent & Dorset

The Yacht Set

Yacht charter in the Solent


We offer a number of charter cruises from day trips to week long charter holidays on the UK South Coast.

Discovering the Solent

Mecca of English yachting, the Solent is a legendary boating area, especially around Cowes and its racing scene. Probably a quarter of a million boats are moored between Southampton, Hurst Point, the Isle of Wight and Chichester Harbour. These are the most popular cruising waters in the UK, with over 30 marinas and many smaller facilities at boatyards and clubs.

Most South Coast boat owners take the Solent for granted. It is simply there, with all the familiar havens ready and waiting to be visited practically all year round. Yet many British boaters have never explored the Solent, particularly those who keep their boats much further north in equally attractive parts of the country. So for those who may hanker after a Solent cruise but have never quite got around to it, a charter can be just the ticket.

Charterers can take a day trip from the Hamble river to the isle of white and the needles, take a long weekend to Dorset or  join their yacht for a week’s holiday at the weekend and return to the Hamble the following weekend following a cruise of the Solent and Dorset. This allows plenty of time to visit some of the Solent’s best-known harbours, perhaps starting with Cowes on Monday after a lazy lunch at anchor in Osborne Bay. One of the West Cowes marinas keeps you near the waterfront action and close to chic shops, pubs and restaurants, or carry on up the Medina River to a calm rural berth opposite the Folly Inn. Next day you might head west to Yarmouth via Newtown Creek, or maybe over to Lymington for the salty atmosphere of this gentle Hampshire harbour.

The Beaulieu River shouldn’t be missed and you canberth at Bucklers Hard (pictured above) near the Master Builder’s bar and restaurant. Portsmouth is ideal for a sociable last night, either at Haslar Marina on the Gosport side or lively Gunwharf Quays near Old Portsmouth. Back at the Hamble, there is a great choice of pubs and restaurants.

Places To Go – The Solent

The Solent is home to a plethora of vibrant sailing towns and villages. From the sailing mecca of Cowes to the breathtaking views of Beaulieu River, there are plenty of interesting places to sail to up and down this famous stretch of water between mainland Britain and the Isle of Wight. Here is our guide for where to go sailing in the Solent.

Cowes – Isle of White

No cruise in the Solent is complete without a visit to Cowes, located in the centre of the north coast of the Isle of Wight. The sailing mecca of the UK and home to the world renowned COWES WEEK regatta which attracts over 1000 yachts and 8000 competitors, Cowes is a yachtsman’s haven with multiple marinas, modern facilities and plenty to see and do ashore.

Cowes Yacht Haven is at the heart of the town or if you want easy access to East Cowes, head to Shepards Wharf. Both marinas offer good quality facilities but can get busy at peak times so pre-booking is recommended.

Visit Cowes High street to enjoy an interesting mix of independent boutique shops as well as popular active lifestyle and nautical brands such as Joules, Musto, Fat Face, Henri Lloyd and White Stuff. Plus, indulge in a variety of friendly pubs, bars and restaurants offering everything from gastro cuisine and wood fired pizza to classic fish and chips and traditional indian curries.

A walk along Cowes Parade offers stunning panoramic views of the Solent and ‘The Green’ is a perfect spot to rest tired legs, watch the comings and goings of the boats afloat and, dependent on the weather, enjoy a delicious ice cream or hot chocolate.

Furthermore, there are good bus links from Cowes town centre and lots of taxis on standby if you want to head further afield and explore some of the beautiful countryside and beaches that the Isle of Wight has to offer.

Hamble River

Sometimes referred to as the sailing mecca of UK, the  Rover Hamble is home to no less than seven marinas and numerous sailing clubs, all offering visitor berths and modern facilities. Located near to the entrance of Southampton Water, the River Hamble is well sheltered with excellent access to the Solent, making it a brilliant base for any sailing or boating adventure.

Onshore there are a variety of quaint villages to explore including Hamble itself, Warsash and Swanwick, each with a good variety of pubs and restaurants to enjoy. Plus, don’t miss a night out in the well-known rum pub, the King and Queen, which was voted the world’s best yachting bar and has a lovely menu of tasty treats to savour too.

If you want to stretch your legs, take the pink ferry from Hamble and wander along the picturesque riverside footpath from Warsash to Swanwick or pay a visit to one of the many nearby country parks for pretty countryside walks and wildlife spotting.

Further afield, the River Hamble is not far from the city of Southampton and has good transport connections to London. There are also lots of local tourist attractions to keep the kids entertained including Go Ape and Marwell Zoo.

Beaulieu River

Set in the beautiful New Forest National Park, Beaulieu River is located towards the centre of the Solent on the mainland side. Renowned for being the home of the British National Motor Museum and Palace House, Beaulieu is a small, picturesque little village popular with tourists.

Head to Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour for short stays with over 300 visitor moorings and 100 berths with 5 star onshore facilities. The historic village of Buckler’s Hard is populated with beautiful Georgian properties and is famously known for its ship building heritage including being the place where Nelson’s warships were once built. Take a visit to the Maritime Museum to find out more, or get the heart pumping with a brisk 2.5 mile walk along the river to Beaulieu village where you can enjoy a small selection of quaint tea rooms, delicatessens and shops.

Away from the tourist hot spots, Beaulieu River is a beautiful place to escape the hustle and bustle. Head further upstream on a high tide to explore areas of the river only accessible by boat. Downstream, keep a look out for Gull Island which is home to a variety of rare birds, the Mulberry oyster beds, the floating Mulberry Dock that was used in the D-D Landings, and Gins where the monks of Beaulieu Abbey kept their fishing boats and which is now home to one of Royal Southampton Yacht Club’s clubhouses.

Wootton Creek

Wootton Creek is located on the northeast coast of the Isle of Wight. Positioned between Cowes and Ryde, Wootton Creek used to be the main route for trading vessels heading to the brickworks at Ash Lake and the tide mill. Now, as you enter the creek, you’ll find a new kind of trade; a large car ferry terminal on the eastern bank. Venture further down, and you’ll find a pretty and unspoilt tidal estuary with wooded valleys either side.

The Royal Victoria Yacht Club welcomes visitors to use their pontoon and clubhouse and with modern facilities, bar and restaurant you’ll find everything you need for a comfortable stay. The Fishbourne Inn is also nearby and offers gastro pub dining. Another option is to take a tender further up the creek to the Sloop Inn at Wootton Bridge. You’ll also find a small selection of shops up the hill from here towards Newport. The creek does dry out though, so you’ll need to plan your journey carefully.

For a bit of culture, take a tour of the nearby Quarr Abbey, a monastery home to a community of Benedictine monks, or why not pop on a steam train from Wootton Station and take a scenic trip along the iconic Isle of Wight Steam Railway to Havenstreet and Smallbrook.

Yarmouth, Isle of Wight

Yarmouth is an old fishing village on the mouth of the River Yar on the north west coast of the Isle of Wight. Steeped in maritime history, Yarmouth is a picturesque spot to visit with famous landmarks near-by as well as a vibrant social scene.

The Royal Solent Yacht Club offers modern facilities to yachtsmen of affiliated clubs or there are plenty of berths and mooring buoys in the Yarmouth Harbour marina. This is a popular place to visit and can get extremely busy so it’s best to beat the crowds and arrive early or try and pre-book.

From here you can explore the ‘West Wight’ which boasts vast stretches of Heritage Coast easily accessed by the coastal road and footpath, or why not take advantage of ‘The Needles Breezer’ open top bus tour leaving Yarmouth every 30 minutes during peak season to see the sights. Must-see landmarks include the white chalk cliffs of the Needles and multicolour sands of Alum Bay.

Or, if you’re feeling a bit more energetic, grab a bike from Wight Cycle Hire at the old Yarmouth train station and explore the River Yar on two wheels. And for those of you who are really keen, take on a challenging 62 mile round the island route.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to venture too far afield and instead relax in Yarmouth itself, why not have a picnic at Yarmouth Castle, one of Henry VIII’s last coastal defences, with beautiful views over the Solent. Or, for a more substantial meal, head to Salty’s for delicious fresh fish and enjoy live music in the fun and friendly bar.

Bembridge Harbour

Bembridge Harbour is located on the east coast of the Isle of Wight close to Seaview and St Helens. A drying lagoon, Bembridge can only be accessed via a twisting dredged channel at high tide so it’s wise to plan your arrival time carefully.

The Duver Marina is dredged to a depth of 2m at the time of writing and offers 140 visitor berths including premier finger berths from which you can enjoy breakfast and newspaper delivery if requested. Alternatively, there are tidal moorings in the middle of the harbour with a complimentary water taxi service.

Onshore, the Ralvins Street Food Cafe is a popular place to grab a snack and the Brading Haven Yacht Club and Bembridge Sailing Club offer their facilities to visiting yachtsmen. There are scenic walks and clean beaches aplenty nearby. Nature lovers, head to the Brading Marshes, home to an RSPB nature reserve. Alternatively, treat yourself to an ice cream and take a gentle walk along the harbourside pathway or head to the villages of Bembridge and St Helens to browse little shops and art galleries or grab a relaxing bite to eat.

Newtown, Isle Of Wight

Get away from it all with a trip to the tranquil and secluded Newtown Creek on the north west coast of the Isle of Wight. Owned by the National Trust, the estuary is teeming with extraordinary wildlife and is one of the most undeveloped spots in the Solent area. 

Historically, Newtown was a large producer of salt and was more recently saved from becoming the site for a new Nuclear Power Station due to its diverse wildlife, unique ecosystems and untouched natural beauty. The old salt marshes now provide home to a variety of birds, rare butterflies and if you’re lucky you might spot a red squirrel too. 

If you want to stretch the legs, take the four mile Newtown estuary walk around the nature reserve and explore the interlacing web of streams and creeks. Alternatively take some time to relax onboard, recharge your batteries and enjoy the stunning natural beauty of this special little anchorage.

Part of the charm of Newtown is that onshore facilities are non existent and the tiny village has only a church and a few houses – no shops or pubs – so make sure you’re well provisioned for your visit. However, this little oasis can get very busy at the weekends and during holiday times so it’s best to head here out of season or during the week to see it at its best and for hassle free mooring.

The Yacht Set

Yacht charter in Dorset


We offer a number of charter cruises from day trips to week long charter holidays on the UK South Coast.

The Dorset coast is a magnificent English spectacle of chalk cliffs and rolling green hills. Portland juts into the Channel like a giant lizard and Weymouth is a classic seaside town with a snug marina above its bridge. Portland harbour was once a naval base, but its vast acres are now devoted to leisure boating. The sailing Olympics will be raced here next year at the National Sailing Academy. But few cruising folk know about Dean & Reddyhoff’s Portland Marina, with its first-class facilities and visitor pontoons – the perfect start to a Dorset weekend, with supper in The Boat that Rocks, where there’s a lively, salty atmosphere and good food. Saturday morning A period with lunchtime HW is good for fast boats. Leave the marina 3½ hours before high and follow the east side of Portland close round the lighthouse near slack. The west side feels suddenly secluded and it’s fascinating to hug the coast past the shingle miles of Chesil Beach and the hills beyond Abbotsbury. After two conical peaks near Swyre village, you soon reach the fantastic gold Jurassic cliffs just before West Bay harbour. Inside the jutting piers you can moor alongside a visitors’ pontoon to port. Then wander up for superb fish and chips at one of the many kiosks around the colourful inner basin.

Saturday afternoon If you feel active, it’s fun to cruise another six miles west to Lyme Regis, a charming timeless harbour with the jumbled layers of its historic town winding up the hillside. Although the harbour mostly dries, there’s a visitors’ pontoon in the pool off Victoria Pier, west of the pierhead light – a delightful spot in quiet weather. You can walk ashore past Lyme’s famous Cobb, the original quay with its old fishing sheds (one of them now an aquarium). The French Lieutenant’s Woman was famously filmed here, with Meryl Streep gazing forlornly seawards. You’ll just have time for ice creams or a Dorset cream tea at the Beach House Café, before heading back towards Portland to catch afternoon slack water round the Bill. Saturday evening Following Portland’s east shore towards Weymouth, you arrive off the popular Esplanade and its holiday sands. With a friendly and bustling atmosphere, Weymouth is a good spot for your Saturday evening. Just inside the pierheads, huge Channel Island fast ferries squeeze alongside. Beyond the sailing club and a row of local moorings, the south bank curves into the picturesque Cove and its handy pontoon. Over on Custom House Quay is the 18th Century red-brick harbour office.

One of the best ways to appreciate Dorset’s beautiful coastline is from the water and the Isle of Portland makes a great base to start your maritime adventure – whether you explore east or west

The stunning Dorset coastline is a truly English spectacle of chalk cliffs and rolling green hills, its Jurassic strata dramatically exposed millennia ago by a quirk of shifting landmasses. The finest way to see this magnificent shore is by boat, any kind of boat, and on quiet summer days many visitors do just that – in graceful sailing yachts, glitzy motor yachts, fast speedboats and, in really calm weather, kayaks or canoes. The Isle of Portland is centre stage in this seascape, jutting four miles out like a giant lizard to stir the Channel tides into a notorious race of rough water.

Locals know the Dorset coast is splendid, but the Olympics put it firmly on the world map. Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy is a recognised centre of excellence and Portland Marina a perfect base both for day cruising and exploring further afield. Not far east of Portland you can enjoy fabulous anchorages at Lulworth Cove, Worbarrow Bay and Chapman’s Pool. Larger boats can easily cruise round to Poole Harbour, a delightful boating area in its own right. More experienced boaters can edge round Portland Bill at slack tide and follow the coast westwards to Bridport’s timeless West Bay harbour and charming Lyme Regis. And Weymouth harbour itself is a colourful port-of-call, with snug moorings in the heart of town.

East to Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove

Leaving Portland Marina, you come out through the north entrance into the glorious expanse of Weymouth Bay, with white cliffs folding east towards the curious natural arch known as Durdle Door. Seven miles east of Weymouth, Lulworth Cove is a geological showpiece, a classic horseshoe inlet nibbled into the soft limestone strata of Bindon Hill. Its narrow entrance can be tricky to spot, but inside the shy gap you can anchor in magical surroundings. On a warm summer day Lulworth is just right for lazing and swimming, a sun trap where the shallow water warms up easily. Landing on the beach, make for the Lulworth Cove Inn for a pub lunch.

 

Worbarrow Bay

A mile east of Lulworth, Worbarrow is backed by a majestic sweep of cliffs. In north-westerly winds anchor at its west end in Mupe Bay, inside a sheltering ledge of rocks. With a north-easterly the east side of Worbarrow is best, behind the distinctive promontory called Worbarrow Tout – nowhere like Dorset for quixotic place names. Worbarrow is one of the historic English Channel anchorages. In the late afternoons, low light starts etching theatrical shadows into those layers of bold Dorset chalk and this coast looks the finest in the world.

Chapman’s Pool

This amazing Dorset anchorage is 15 nautical miles from Portland Marina, a short run for fast motor boats and, with a fair tide, an easy morning sail for yachts. Before you reach St Alban’s Head and its turbulent tide race, curve into Chapman’s Pool, an amphitheatre bay beneath Emmetts Hill and Houns-tout Cliff. In calm sunny weather this is a blissful retreat, where the only sounds are skylarks rising on thermals and the lazy swish of sea on the pebble beach.

Savouring Weymouth

From Portland it’s a short hop round to Weymouth harbour, near the Esplanade and its long holiday beach. Inside the pierheads beyond the ferry terminal, the south bank curves into the picturesque ‘Cove’ and its mooring pontoon. Over on Custom House Quay is the red brick harbour office and a row of waterman’s pubs right up to the town bridge, which lifts every two hours for access to Weymouth Marina.

Moored at The Cove you can watch yachts, motor cruisers and fishing boats coming and going all day. There are good bistros on both sides of the harbour and the friendly Red Lion pub is behind the Cove on Hope Square.

Round to West Bay

More experienced boaters can take the inner passage round Portland Bill, following the east shore of Portland to arrive close off the lighthouse at dead slack water. The mood changes on the west side and the waters feel much more secluded. Then it’s fascinating to hug the coast past the shingle miles of Chesil Beach and the hills beyond Abbotsbury. After two conical peaks near Swyre village, you soon reach the fantastic gold Jurassic cliffs near West Bay harbour. Inside the piers, make for the pontoon on the west side. Then wander up for fish and chips at one of the many kiosks around the inner basin.

Round to West Bay

More experienced boaters can take the inner passage round Portland Bill, following the east shore of Portland to arrive close off the lighthouse at dead slack water. The mood changes on the west side and the waters feel much more secluded. Then it’s fascinating to hug the coast past the shingle miles of Chesil Beach and the hills beyond Abbotsbury. After two conical peaks near Swyre village, you soon reach the fantastic gold Jurassic cliffs near West Bay harbour. Inside the piers, make for the pontoon on the west side. Then wander up for fish and chips at one of the many kiosks around the inner basin.

On to Lyme Regis

From West Bay it’s fun to cruise another six miles west to Lyme Regis, whose restful seafront has an attractive backdrop of jumbled Edwardian and Victorian houses winding up the hillside. Although the harbour dries at low tide, you can stay afloat at a seasonal pontoon off Victoria Pier. Stroll ashore past The Cobb, Lyme’s original fish quay with its old sheds intact, one of them now an aquarium. The French Lieutenant’s Woman was famously filmed here, with Meryl Streep gazing forlornly out to sea. Local boats run mackerel fishing trips from the harbour and Lyme has all the nostalgic vibes of a traditional English seaside town.

Where to Eat

There are many good boating restaurants along this coastline, here is a selection:

Portland: The excellent Bluefish Café and Restaurant is just into Portland. Quiddles seafood café at Chesil Cove offers super moules marinière and local crab. Crab House Café is on the Weymouth end of Portland spit and offers Abbotsbury oysters.

West Bay: The Riverside Restaurant serves excellent local seafood and is behind the inner harbour.

Lyme Regis: Don’t miss the Mill Café and Supper Club in Mill Lane. Great café by day and wonderful Italian cooking in the evenings.

Weymouth: Mallam’s is near the Cove and offers first-class meat as well as fish. Perry’s is next door, with harbour views upstairs. Floods is on Custom House Quay, and is a real treat for fish lovers.

Lulworth: Lulworth Cove Inn has superb local scallops and fresh mackerel.

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