Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:48 pm

Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by Rae1 » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:32 am

We're in Swanage for the RNLI week in August, I'll be making a boat in the 'row across the harbour in your boat made in 3 hours competition'.
Anyway, we're down there for a week, would our WW / general purpose kayaks be ok for Swanage bay to Poole harbour (obviously on a calm day), or should we just stick to inland water around Brownsea?

If they may be OK, where do we find local tide and water condition information?


Posts: 335
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:42 pm
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 13 times

Re: Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by pathbrae » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:31 am

It's not the boat, it's the paddler....
Might be stating the obvious here but a "proper" sea kayak doesn't make you any safer, it just makes it a bit easier to cover the distance.
If you have a good roll, can rescue each other in deep water etc. the GP boats should be fine on the sea on a calm day - weather forecast and tides permitting.
So much sea - so little time to see it.

Posts: 179
Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 10:40 am
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by MikeVeal » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:17 am

I use tides4fishing.

Be aware of very strong tides around the entrance to Poole Harbour. The entrance is also a major shipping lane, and you have the chain ferry to contend with. Inside the harbour the strong tides extend to Brownsea.

Have fun.

User avatar
Posts: 3320
Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 7:47 pm
Location: Berks, Hants, Essex

Re: Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by TechnoEngineer » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:25 pm

The harbour is very exposed to wind; anything above a F4 is going to be a hard slog.
XL-Burn-3 / Monstar / Kodiak / My Videos

Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:48 pm

Re: Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by Rae1 » Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:57 pm

As a follow up to this, we decided to not take our own boats due to our inexperience of sea conditions.
Instead, we booked a 3 hour trip with a local Company in Studland, specifying, via phone and email that we wanted sea kayaks, not sit on tops. We were assured it would be sea kayaks.
Imagine our surprise when we turned up and found it was sit on tops.
We were not happy. 'As a goodwill gesture. we will refund you'. Too right you will. Of course, the fault lay in that we had booked the wrong thing - yes, the thing we had spoken over the phone about and had confirmed via email, but it was our fault we were told for booking it wrongly. Right.

The next day a local fishing charter boat Master told us that he had never seen any sea kayaks in the area (apart from private ones). I dont know if that is true. They wouldnt even let us hire them for 3 hours - H&S apparently, but we never did see the sea kayaks we should have been using.
Lesson learnt, dont believe what you are told.
Next time we're in the area, we'll arrange for someone local to escort us in our own boats.

Posts: 258
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:31 pm
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 12 times

Re: Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by PlymouthDamo » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:10 pm

Sounds like that local company were just a business making money out of tourists, had no particular knowledge of kayaking and didn't understand what a sea kayak is. Glad you got your money back - I take it you didn't use their sit-on-tops at all?

Earlier on this year, I put a post on here asking for info. about paddling around this area. I got the info I needed from Mark Rainsley, so I then took my boat with me on a work trip to the area and did a few trips myself. The first was from one of the Bournemouth beaches (Branksome) to Old Harry rocks and back. The following evening I put in on the North East end of Sandbanks and did an out-and-return to the West side of Poole Harbour, making a quick stop to see the red squirrels on Brownsea Island and also had a game of cat-and-mouse with a pair of harbour seals. The next day I went further west and did a trip from near Portland to Durdle Door and back.

It's very scenic paddling, and I don't think there are any major safety concerns. The tidal flow can be strong coming through the Poole Harbour entrance, but I kept a few hundred metres away and didn't experience anything dramatic. There is also a bit of shipping traffic coming in and out of Poole Harbour, but I spoke with a local paddler, who pointed out the buoyed East and West approaches, and I made sure I didn't hang around in those. Other than this, I found it to be a safe area to paddle with plenty of options to stop and get out en route. I was using a full length sea kayak (I've converted one of mine into a 3-piece which fits inside my hatchback, so no problem bringing it) but I'd be happy to use a general purpose/whitewater boat and choose a turn-around time to suit my speed and how much time I had to play with. If sea conditions are good, and you're already comfortable with coastal paddling, I wouldn't bother with a local guide.

Posts: 240
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:26 am

Re: Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by Ken_T » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:07 am

If booking a guided trip it is probably better to ask if they are sit inside kayaks or sit on top, as the term sea kayak may be open to interpretation.

Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:48 pm

Re: Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by Rae1 » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:26 pm

Yes, Ken, we did make sure it was a sea kayak, not sit ons. Via the phone and email. They knew what we meant, but tried to fob us off with the sit ons.

Posts: 240
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:26 am

Re: Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by Ken_T » Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:55 am

I'm sorry to hear that. I have only seen SOT's used by guided groups around the Swanage area where I paddle quite often.

Posts: 739
Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 11:23 am
Location: Dorset
Been thanked: 2 times

Re: Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by Bards » Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:53 pm

The tidal flow around Handfast (Old Harry Rocks) can also be strong and lumpy; if sticking away from the harbour entrance the shallows of Hook Sands also need factoring in. Have to say I'm unaware of sit-ins being rented out along here.

Posts: 100
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:00 pm

Re: Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by Fenn123 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:04 am

National Trust is allowing camping on Brownsea, quite a few spaces this month.

I might try do a night.

User avatar
Posts: 1061
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:07 pm
Location: Cornwall, between swims.
Has thanked: 11 times
Been thanked: 17 times

Re: Swanage Bay/ Poole harbour?

Post by nickcrowhurst » Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:40 pm

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events ... es/details

I guess that's the correct link: £20 per night per adult and bring your own tent. Child £10.

Post Reply