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Poole - Sandbanks

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General details:

Sailing at Sandbanks is on the open sea rather than in the harbour itself. Consequently Sandbanks is usually only sailed by more experienced sailors willing to accept the currents in order to enjoy the cleaner wind and waves in the right conditions.

When Whitley Lake becomes very crowded, the open spaces of Sandbanks are a welcome respite, however don't try and sail out of the harbour round to here - the chain ferry across the entrance and the currents have ruined many people's day in the past.

This is a fantastic, sandy beach running in a sweeping arc from here, right round to Bournemouth. Gets VERY busy in the summer. You'll need to get there very early to find somewhere to park.

Rather than erect the more traditional wooden groynes, they've gone for a slightly more permanent solution here: Every 200m or so along the beach, there is a line of rocks running out from the beach into the sea; each with a green post of the end (good for judging the tidal flow), and a concrete path on the top (good for getting close to the green posts). It's not good to get yourself or your kit washed onto these rocks.

There are a couple of sandbars a few hundred metres due South of the beach. These can throw up some good waves in the right conditions (but I'm not sure what the right conditions are!). Apparently, they can be exposed at low tide.

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Directions to the right place:

Take the A350 towards Poole, turning east on the A35 as you approach. Drive straight through Poole following the signs for Sandbanks and keep going along the edge of the harbour until you see the harbour itself immediately on your right hand side. Keep going towards the chain ferry/Studland keeping in the left hand land, until you see the car park on the left hand side, park here and rig up on the beach.

Parking costs £1.80 for 3 hours (Apr - 2003).

NOTE: Trailers are not allowed in this car park for some bizarre & inexplicable reason. If you have a trailer, you'll have to park on the road next to the harbour (get there early to find a space), & then carry your kit over the track to the beach (only about 150m).

click here for map

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How the winds work:

From NE through E to SW, with SE almost dead onshore.

NE - cross-shore from L - Can be very gusty. Wind is with current on falling tide. Good direction for sailing out to the sandbar to play in the waves.

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Tidal conditions:

HW springs tend to be 09:30 - 10:00 and again 14:00. HW neaps are 14:30 - 18:30.

It's easier to go by LW times here, though: LW springs are around 17:00; LW neaps around 09:00 - 13:00 (yes - the neap tides really rush by!). All times are GMT.

Like Poole Harbour, there is a double high tide around springs. ie: The tide comes in, goes out a little, then comes back in a little before disappearing as if down a drain.

Poole spring tide curve

For online tidal predictions, take a look here.

There seems to be a southbound current along the beach - probably 2-3 knots - during rising spring tide. Curiously, it flows northbound on a falling tide!

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Hazards:

Chain ferry - keep well away.

Rocky groynes - stay clear.

Slightly dumpy conditions at high tide (though nothing too serious).

Side-shore currents.

Over-zealous parking wardens.

Poole-Cherbourg ferry. It's bigger than you are and won't stop for you. Keep well out of the shipping lanes.

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Facilities:

Large car park - used to be free in Winter but charges now (Mar 2004) being introduced.

Toilets in the car park

French Connection Water sports (across the road from the car park) and Poole Harbour Board Sailing are both close to Whitley Lake with equipment for hire and demo, repairs and sales.

Cafes & beach shops along promenade.

Apartments for hire by the week (if you're wealthy enough).

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B&B's / campsites

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Pubs and eateries

There are a couple of cafes along the promenade, right by the main Sandbanks car park. Not yet road-tested.

Mr Chips (Ian) says:

Poole is blessed with some amazing fish and chip shops, my favourite three shops in the country are all in the Poole Harbour area and I really wish the rest of our seaside towns would take note.

One of the very best fish and chip shops in the country (it was actually runner up in a country wide competition - I haven't found the winner yet) is on the round about in Poole that has the civic centre in the middle of it. This fish and chip shop (and its sister shop a couple of miles down the road towards Bournmouth) are almost worth a trip on their own right. Not stopping to get your supper here on the way home should be considered a crime because these two shops are truly excellent and provide a fantastic range of fish together with a variety of cooking methods.

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