Weymouth Harbour is one of Britain’s prettiest. It is also a working port, with a constant stream of pleasure craft and fishing vessels coming in. Tall Ships, super yachts, Navy ships and historic craft also grace her waters. In recent years, there were several spectacular Waterfest events. Near the entrance, there is the quaint rowboat ferry, which has been running for 60 years. Nearby is the Nothe Fort and Gardens. Weymouth Harbour is the perfect place to stroll, drink and eat, in the many fine pubs and restaurants lining the harbour.
[caption id="attachment_1918" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Weymouth Harbour at night[/caption]
Anyone who read our previous blogs on the Weymouth Harbour wall repairs will assume the works finished on 23rd December last year. However, unforeseen problems in the pile driving phase caused delays. These prevented some overlapping tasks, which may now stretch until mid February. It is helpful to compare pile driving to archeology – one never really know what’s down there!
At the time of writing (11th January), remaining works included the last capping beam concrete pour and replacing the Ferry Steps. Then there are – levelling, making good, reinstating safety railings, resurfacing and clearing the site. We hope to add a few photos in later updates to this post during these concluding works, as they arise. We may be able to add a short video clip of the finished result. Then we shall be back to blogs about visiting luxury superyachts, Naval vessels, Tall Ships and Harbourside events, such as the Seafood Festival.
Updates (after 11th January)
Update on 15th January: Yesterday’s storm (Brendan) slowed work on the site but more backfilling and welder-cutting for pipe egress was attempted. The wind was swaying the crane alarmingly and work had to be halted in the afternoon. (No pictures – far too wet and windy!)
The air temperature for the Charity Swim was about 10 degC, also the water temperature (according to google – Alexa). There was very little breeze but the shock of hitting cold water exposed several swimmers to cramps, “brain-freeze” and some muscle injuries (including Mark – Wobbly Fish). There were 471 competitors in 9 heats and upwards of 20,000 spectators watched till the end. The Christmas Day Swim raised £1000’s for Charity (plus not a few goosebumps). (See our YouTube Channel for other videos).
There was due to be a fourth member of the Wall family undetaking the swim but an unfortunate “illness” overtook Karl the night before (early “brain freeze”). We are hoping to get Claire to have a go next year…..
We were alerted to an event going on behind Aaran Guesthouse on 31st August by the booming voice of Steve Davies, Weymouth’s noted commentator. We emerged to find a raft race, between crews, mainly in fancy dress, proceeding from the Ferry Steps behind us to the steps on the opposite bank. There were about 8 crews: For us, the Vikings stood out, with sneaky tactics of squirting bale-out water over rival crews as they paddled nearby.
On the far bank was a welcoming committee, including a small dinosaur. About 100 people watched the event, which had all the flavour of a typical Weymouth activity – eccentric, fun and something always happening. We searched afterward for news online but could find none. We imagine the race may have been connected with RNLI Charity events concurrent in Bridport/West Bay and Poole. Anyway, it was a fun and interesting diversion from cleaning the kitchen (again!)
Weymouth Lifeboat Station was opended 150 years ago and this year, the event was celebrated with a flotilla of lifeboats through the ages. This took place right behind Aaran Guesthouse, in Weymouth Harbour, so we were well placed to view the parade of boats. Yet another Weymouth Harbour event.
As “spy drones” go, this was a somewhat noisy affair. One could imagine Taliban fighters (etc) spotting the machine and shooting it out of skies within a few seconds of deployment. Onlookers noted a level of “dissatisfaction” among the populations of rooftop gulls, rooks and crows, during its flight pattern. We do not know whether militarised spy drones are quieter, but we hope so. It was difficult to determine the drone manufacturer nor make of camera carried, but the latter appeared similar to Canon-style video devices in common use. Flight times were about an hour each, in several sessions. Today, 17th, the Pavilion Theatre is under survey. This was a distinctly unusual instance of “sights in Weymouth Harbour“.
As for the Harbour Wall repairs, these start 30th September and last for several weeks, until early December. Preparatory works will lead onto reverberatory pile driving, followed by percussive piledriving, finishing and making good works. It is expected most of the nearby guesthouses, including ourselves, will close during these works, for reasons of noise, access and safety. We hope our respective guests will bear with us and come back afterwards, to enjoy our hospitality, perhaps in the Christmas Season or New Year.
We popped out and took a few images (gallery above) around Aaran Guesthouse, on the Northern side of the Harbour. Some of our guests wandered as far as Hope Square and reported live music bands and many more stalls along the Cove Row side of the Harbour. Over 40 food specialists displayed their wares, from the Pavilion Theatre forecourt, down the harbourside to the Town Bridge and back along Cove Row towards Hope Square. Numerous other stalls could be seen, dotted among the main displays and in a few of the Guesthouse rear yards (e.g. The Gloucester at The Lantana). Not forgetting, numerous permanent Pubs and Restaurants, serving great seafood all year round (e.g. Ship, George, Enfants Terrible)
The weather over the weekend was warm, with sunny spells and a light breeze – much appreciated while sitting enjoying the food and the scenery outside the Harbourside pubs. Tens of thousands of visitors crowded the Harbour, looking for the ideal meal among the many options. We spotted crispy squid, “experimental” marmalades (eg. carrot, parsnip, etc), crepes, specialist gin, oysters, Thai Cuisine, Paella, Chimonea-fired pizza, Organic Farm produce, local cheeses, produce from The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight, as well as some “usual suspects” – Weird Fish, CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) and no less than THREE cooking stages, with famous chefs showing their skills and tips for the public. A great day for exploring with this afternoon (Sunday) still to go…
Hard8 is a Sunseeker luxury motor yacht of the 86 Class. Launched in 2017, she is estimated to be worth £4.25Million. There are four cabins in sumptious decor with accommodation for two crew members. She has a foredeck, aft deck, flybridge and a bespoke hard-top cover for inclement weather. Hard8 is powered by twin 500HP diesel engines and is capable of reaching 30 knots. She is just one of the many sights of Weymouth Harbour.
At a slightly more modest scale, we also like the cross-harbour Rowboat Ferry, which has been running for decades between the Melcombe Regis wall and Weymouth’s Nothe Fort steps.
The Bristolian is a modern super-yacht, built by Yachting Developments, Auckland, New Zealand. She has an epoxy-bound kevlar/carbon fibre composite laminate hull and glass reinforced plastic superstructure. The superyacht dates from 2008 and is 37m long and over 120 feet tall. The yacht accommodates 6 passengers and 6 crew. MMSI number is 235096432 and call sign is 2GDJ5. Cruising speed is 13 knots and the yacht is truly a breath of ocean-going luxury. The International Superyacht Society awarded Bristolian “Best in 24 – 40m class” in 2009. Overheard in conversation when moored in Weymouth, the recent refit may have cost as much as £8.4million! Allegedly, the yacht is currently for sale for approximately £18 million.
Superyacht Bristolian Stern view
It’s difficult to grasp just how very tall this ship is – but we tried. The mast reaches many metres above out 5-storey building, for example. Even crows would be dizzy trying to reach that crow’s nest!
It was a very misty day when Tall Ship Irene first came into Weymouth Harbour. One could almost imagine a scene from Stephen King’s film, “The Mist”, with ghostly pirates shuffling along the decks in the fog. Irene was a cargo sailing ship, launched from Bridgwater in Somerset in 1907. She was designed as a Ketch with beaching abilities, so cargo could be more easily handled on river banks inland. without the need of a Harbour Pier. She had a long career hauling cargo, before a period of abandonment and neglect, before being restored as a houseboat. Later, she featured in a number of films and adverts, including “Pirates of the Caribbean” and depicted as “The Flying Dutchman” in the Tony Palmer film “Wagner”. (Extracts from https://classic-sailing.co.uk/article/irene-1907-history-ship). While in Weymouth, Irene was acting as a Sea Cadet training ship on a 2-day stopover.
TS Irene from the stern in fog
We were kindly sent a few more photographs by a Tall Ships fan. We reproduce those here by kind permission and we ask, could the donor please contact us again so we can credit these images properly..
Jigging in the Rigging TS Royalist sea cadets furling the mainsails
TS Prolific moored up right behind Aaran Guesthouse last night, leaving around 9:00 am this morning (19th April 2019). Another training ship, she has also been a prolific visitor to Weymouth Harbour and makes a very welcome sight among the fishing vessels and pleasure yachts. She is operated by the Ocean Youth Trust, built in 2005 in the style of traditional herring fishing boats.
TS Prolific viewed from Aaran House guest lounge just 15 yards away
Weymouth Harbour Lions Club swim 25th December 2018
Christmas Day Harbour Swim for Charity, organised by the Lions Club
Every year, Weymouth Lions Club organises a charity swim across the Harbour to raise money for worthwhile causes. In recent years, the numbers of swimmers has risen to 500 or so and up to £20,000 can be raised. There are so many participants, the races have to split into 5 or 6 groups, for safety. Many entrants dress up in fancy costumes (which can be risky as my Nephew Karl found out one year!) The event is fully marshalled and safety crews are present on land and in the water, so everyone is safe.
Of course, if the Harbour Swim feels a bit chilly, then you can always try a spot of Ice Skating outside Debenhams in the Town.