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Anchoring in Studland Bay

After spending a few nights at anchor in the South Deep in Poole Harbour, we weighed anchor, which once again was a mess of mud and seaweed (read our previous post for more on this!) and headed through the harbour, through both the Poole bridge and Twin Sails Bridge to get some fuel at MDL Cobbs Quay. After filling up on both fuel and water we headed back out through the bridges (the bridges take around 20 minutes to get through) and booked ourselves in for a short stay at Poole Quay Boat Haven, just £7.50 for 4 hours, to meet up with family.

We then made the decision to stay the night here so that we could enjoy an evening out with our family. £4.34 a metre ain’t cheap but it was worth it to spend time catching up, making memories with loved ones, having a nice meal in the local pub and of course a few sundowners!

The next day we enjoyed a short sail to nearby Studland Bay, about 7.5nm away, dropping the hook outside of the new voluntary no anchor zone.

The no anchor zone was introduced in December 2021 by the Marine Management Organisation to protect the seagrass which is home to seahorses. The area is off of South Beach and is currently marked by 6 yellow buoys which are marked with ‘5 knots’ (as of our visit in May 2022). The zone is set to be extended outwards in June 2022 – please check out this leaflet for more info. There are also 10 eco friendly mooring buoys, installed last year by BoatFolk, which are currently free to use.

Studland Bay is a popular anchorage, and even with this new no anchor zone there is plenty of room as it’s such a large bay. Holding is good in sand, providing you’re not in the seagrass area! It can get a little rolly with passing vessels and unfortunately some jet-skiers and motorboaters do like to pass through at speed with their wakes causing some discomfort for a few moments 😡

Going Ashore at Studland

We took the dinghy ashore and tied up against the gabion’s at South Beach. The tide was out so it was a bit of a workout to haul the dinghy up – note to self: invest in some dinghy wheels! There is a small beachside cafe known as ‘Joe’s Cafe’ and from here it’s just a short stroll up into the village.

Studland Stores is well stocked with fresh bread, local produce, fruit and veg, toiletries, pet food, alcohol and sweet treats! It also has a post office and B&B – incase you have visitors that don’t fancy staying onboard!

The village Church of St Nicholas (the patron saint of sailors, fishermen and children) dates back some 1000 years, after being built on the site of earlier Saxon Church, and was once a prominent navigation mark for sailors, before the trees grew up!

If you fancy quenching your thirst then The Bankes Arms pub has a fantastic beer garden overlooking the bay, or check out The Pig on the Beach, once the summer home of the aristocratic Bankes family, it is now a popular hotel and restaurant…and the building is pretty impressive too!

One of the most famous landmarks of course is Old Harry Rocks, a set of chalk formations at Handfast Point. It’s about 1 mile along the coastal path from South Beach, and offers some spectacular views. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous take a hike to the top of Ballard Down where you can enjoy panoramic views over the coast and countryside. You can slip on down into the Victorian town of Swanage, or even continue along the ridge to Corfe Castle!

Village Life
Yachts at Sunset in Studland Bay

Back down at sea level the beaches at Studland are some of the best in the country with beautiful golden sands, stretching for some 4 miles from Old Harry to the chain ferry at Shell Bay. There is also a small stretch of beach reserved as a naturist beach if you fancy stripping off and indulging in a spot of skinny dipping! The main Knoll Beach has a National Trust shop, café, discovery centre and toilet facilities.

Behind the beach lies the nature reserve and sand dunes which are currently owned by the National Trust. This heathland is named as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest. The area is a haven for birdlife and other wildlife and enthusiasts can expect to see a wide variety including the Dartford Warbler and various reptile species.

Back on board the bay is a great place for swimming off the back of your boat, however we do always throw out a ‘swim fender’ – a fender tied to the back of the boat – just as a precaution.

Studland was our chosen stop while we waited for a weather window to cross Lyme Bay as it offers good shelter in South West/Westerly winds. It is a popular with many however there have been threats to ban anchoring altogether if people do not work together to protect the Studland Bay Marine Conservation Zone. If you intend using Studland Bay as an anchorage then please check with the Marine Management Organisation for any latest developments before you visit and please be mindful of where you anchor. It would be a huge disappointment to lose this beautiful anchorage.

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