However you spend your time afloat, Dorset’s Portland Marina will be happy to help, and with its fantastic location and facilities the continuing popularity of this marina comes as no surprise.
Located on the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Portland Marina makes the perfect launching point for adventures east, west or across the Channel, and with no restrictions to worry about you can simply slip lines and head out on your next voyage of discovery. The sheltered crystal-clear waters here are an ideal playground for those who love to get afloat, but there is fun to be found ashore too, with Chesil Beach, historical quarries and the famous Portland Bill.
Built in 2010 for the 2012 Olympics, Portland Marina’s first-class facilities are constantly growing to create a one-stop shop for all your boating needs.
The boatcare team offer a range of services ashore from a quick racing scrub to a lift into the yard for a full refit. The 50-tonne hoist can lift vessels up to 22m in length and 5.5m beam, and the fully serviced yard has everything you need to get your boat shipshape, including a blast bay and mast storage rack.
Ideal for boat lovers across the South Coast, Portland Marina is also home to boatpoint, a growing boat sales business by boatfolk in partnership with Network Yacht Brokers. The boat sales arm of boatfolk provides a professional yacht brokerage service in both Weymouth and Portland marinas and the surrounding area.
boatpoint currently has five more offices located at boatfolk Marinas around the UK coastline including Portishead Marina, Bristol, Haslar Marina, Portsmouth, Conwy Marina, North Wales, East Cowes Marina, Isle of Wight and Royal Quays Marina, North Shields.
There are several more marine businesses on-site or close-by and on hand to assist berth holders and visiting boats alike. Whether you need a spare shackle from the boatstore, engineering expertise from Marine Power or a taste of adrenaline with Adventure4All, this marina has got you covered.
There is also Apollo Marine chandlery just across the road from the marina entrance, and there are riggers, sailmakers and electricians available in the local area.
BERTHING & STORAGE
There are 350 berths in the residential area ranging from six to 25m and the marina can accommodate larger vessels up to 40m on hammerhead pontoons. With a dedicated visitor’s area of alongside berths there is also space for larger visiting vessels.
Space and depth is not an issue at Portland, which makes it popular with multihulls. More berths are also planned on the south side of the marina, which will be going in over the next few years.
As the days get longer and boatowners look forward to getting out and spending more time on the water, the dry stack at Portland Marina offers a convenient and accessible berthing spot. Perfect for RIBs, sportsboats, ski boats and day angling boats, the dry stack facility can house 130 motorboats up to 9m.
It is a safe and secure alternative to trailer launch or marina berths with unlimited launch and recovery, and a wash down after each lift before your boat is returned to the stack.
Unlike many other dry stacks in the UK, the Portland Marina dry stack is clad on the back, sides and roof to give protection from the elements, including the prevailing wind. If you want to tinker, it also has several working racks so you can access your boat on dry land.
The marina does allow a limited number of liveaboards who have created a great community, always looking out for each other, particularly during the pandemic. However, whilst the marina does welcome liveaboards, each case is assessed individually.
If you are accessing Portland Marina by sea, follow the recommended channel from the north entrance of the harbour breakwater marked with red buoys and a safe water mark.
You can also use the east entrance, but it is recommended to contact Portland Port on VHF Ch74 before entering or leaving via this entrance, to ensure you do not come nose-to-nose with something big coming the other way.
The south entrance is blocked by a sunken ship and a wire running across the entrance, so is only accessible to small motor vessels.
The port has several exclusion zones in the harbour and there is a six knot speed limit as you approach the marina, marked by yellow buoys. Give the team a call on VHF Ch80 or 01305 866 190 when you are adjacent to the swinging moorings by the marina entrance on the north side of the breakwater.
If you are coming on land, the bustling town of Weymouth has great train links with London and Bristol, and the marina is only a short taxi ride away from the station. By car, follow the A35 to Dorchester, then the A354 to Weymouth and onward across the causeway to Portland. The marina is just off the first roundabout, past Lidl and the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.
There are several bays on the eastern side of the marina, perfect for lunchtime BBQs and peaceful overnight stops with stunning views along this stretch of protected coastline.
Further afield, the Channel ports are your oyster when cruising from Portland. The West Country and Brittany are fantastic areas with lots of creeks, crannies and unspoilt harbours to explore. Ringstead, Warbarrow and Mupe Bays are all worth a visit when the weather is calm, along with the famous Lulworth Cove.
The Solent and Poole are both within easy reach or head round the Bill (get your tides right and it is a doddle) or straight out across to the Channel Islands with Lyme Regis and the English Riviera of Torquay and Brixham to the west. Alderney, Guernsey, Jersey, Herm and Sark are only a day’s sail away.
For some, Portland Bill via the inside passage sends shivers of dread down their spine; in reality, provided the wind and tidal conditions are right, there is nothing to fear. Stay close in and aim to round at slack water, whichever direction you are heading. In strong winds, particularly south or south-westerlys, it is best to avoid the inshore passage if you are unsure.
The bays along the coast between Portland and St Aldhelm’s Head are exposed to any winds from southerly directions and are best visited in calm and stable weather. The prevailing wind and swell direction is from the south west here and can kick up a good sized swell which can make for an uncomfortable night at anchor, even in Lulworth Cove which looks to be more protected. That same wind and swell direction can make for an uncomfortable crossing of Lyme Bay with the only real shelter found once you reach Torbay.
For seafood lovers and hungry explorers there are several eateries within easy walking distance. On-site at the marina there is The Boat That Rocks bar and restaurant, where you can watch the comings and goings of local boats with a glass of something chilled in hand, and Taylor’s Mess Deck café, perfect for brunch, lunch or coffee and cake.
Five to 10 minutes walking will bring you to Quiddles Beach Bar and Café and The Cove House Inn, offering fantastic views over Chesil Beach and Lyme Bay, the perfect spot for sundowners.
Or head along the causeway to Billy Winters Diner and watch the local wind and kitesurf experts show off their moves.
For a special meal, the Crabhouse Café offers fine dining with views across the Fleet. Their speciality is oysters cultivated in the waters just a stone’s throw from where you will be slipping them down with a chilled glass of the house white.
And finally, sample the best Dorset fare from the comfort of your cockpit with a takeaway from Chesil Chippie, offering far more than your average fish and chip shop with local delicacies such as samphire and crab.
To keep your boat well-vitalled, there is a Lidl five minutes’ walk from the marina, just past the National Sailing Academy or, for a pint of milk and Sunday paper, there is the Premier corner shop in Castletown a 15 minute stroll away.
THINGS TO DO
There is plenty of history at Portland Marina, it is in the stones! Most of London was rebuilt with Portland stone after the great fire and it is still quarried today. Disused quarries are now nature reserves or sculpture parks and worth a wander round if you have the time.
Portland Harbour has been an important naval base since the days of Henry VIII, who built Portland and Sandsfoot Castle to protect it from Spanish invasion.
It was the largest man-made harbour in the world when the breakwater was completed in 1872 and was an important naval base until the military withdrew operations here in the mid-90s. In particular, Portland Harbour played a major role in the D-Day preparations and was a point of embarkation for many American troops headed for the Normandy beaches. The D-Day museum in nearby Castletown preserves the role the local area played, including two Phoenix caissons which made up the Mulberry Harbour anchored adjacent to Portland Castle, which also act as a windbreak for ships berthing in Portland Port.
For walking enthusiasts, the coastal path around the island is a must-do; follow the sun and start on the east side up the disused railway of the Merchant’s Incline and along the undulating path to Church Ope Cove and on to the Bill.
The Lobster Pot is the perfect stop for a cream tea to fuel up for the walk back to the marina along the west side of the island.
For those looking for adventure, there is climbing, coasteering, windsurfing, kitesurfing and paddle sports. Adventure4All are based at the marina and can show you the ropes if you are keen to have a go. If you prefer your thrills wind-powered, the OTC at the National Sailing Academy can help. There are also diving and deep sea fishing charters available from the marina.
Buses run on a regular service between Portland and Weymouth every 20 minutes with stops at Victoria Square and outside the National Sailing Academy. The seasonal 501 service runs to Portland Bill during school holidays and weekends in the summer with an additional stop at Portland Castle.
Local taxi companies are Weyline or Nicky’s Taxi. If you have time and energy, there is an easy 5k walk into Weymouth along the Rodwell Trail, which pops you out across the road from Portland’s sister marina in Weymouth and the train station. For a slice of history, take the ferry from the marina to Weymouth’s Brewer’s Quay; My Girl was used as a troop supply boat during WWII.
“We have been at Portland for three years now and loved every minute. We looked around several marinas before choosing Portland’s dry stack because we really liked the facilities on offer and the staff were really friendly. We were first time boat owners so we had lots of questions and needed lots of advice, but the team were fantastic, really patient and helpful. The marina has great access with no tides too, which is a huge bonus for us. We regularly recommend Portland to others. We are very happy here and love the social side, chatting to everyone on the pontoons. It feels like we are on holiday whenever we are here!”
Mandy and Mike Harraway, Ocean Dancer, RibEye A500
“I put my boat on the water for the first time today. boatfolk have been great from my first contact regarding dry stack storage to launching and returning to the marina after our first outing. Really helpful for a 60 year-old beginner.”
Osprey Quay, 6 Hamm Beach Road,
Portland, Dorset, DT5 1DX
General Manager – Jon Eads
Berthing Manager – Paul Swain
BoatCare Manager – Lee Meachim