messing about in boats

Studland Bay Seahorses

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on March 12, 2010

I guess anybody remotely involved with Studland Bay or the YBW forums will have noticed the fierce debate currently raging between the Seahorse Trust, boaters and local residents. I can’t say I’m involved, but I am keeping a close eye on it. There have even been speculations of corruption and misappropriation of grant money – all very exciting, like a bizarre marine soap opera. There’s a fairly good roundup of arguments on the Studland Bay Preservation Association blog if you care to read it, but the jist is that the Seahorse Trust are adamant that boats mooring in the bay are putting the seahorses at risk and many local residents and boaters are disputing the claims and opposing any kind of ban on anchoring in the bay. Crown Estates are currently undertaking a survey to find out what’s-what and the results will be available in 2012.

Studland was infact responsible for my love of cruising in larger boats. I remember being on holiday with my family at a fairly young age, carrying my little inflatable dinghy down the dirt track to the beach, which in itself was amazing – a beach without a horrid esplanade and amusement park behind it! The water was always dead calm and safe to play in provided you kept an eye out for the wash from the ferries which would surface as if from nowhere as it approached the beach and one time capsized a kayaker as it rose up right beside him. So I rowed my little boat around looking at the moored yachts for hours on end.

Then one day for a bit of a treat (as I’d recently taken up dinghy sailing) a friend of the family said he would take us kids for a trip on his yacht. She was only a little bilge keeler, but a boat was a boat and I remember jumping at the chance. We were dropped off at the boatyard in Poole and set sail for Studland in glorious sunshine with a gentle breeze with just the genoa up pulling us along nicely. Soon we were in the bay, set her up on the beach and let the tide go out. I still get that strange feeling when arriving somewhere on a boat. It’s different than the feeling after a long car journey; somehow a lot more special.

As I said above, I’m keeping out of the debate at the moment. I guess my support tends to lie with the local residents views that the moorings prevent much more damaging trawling by fishing boats. I visit Studland (as a land lubber) once a year if I’m lucky. South beach is a beautiful spot and I hope it remains so for everyone involved; including the land animals, birds and marine life.

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