Sailing my Paradox and country living

June trip. A wild night in Worbarrow Bay


I thought that I’d visit this bay before moving on to the Solent. It’s an exposed anchorage for an overnight stay and only viable when the weather is calm, but the forecast for Friday the 13th was for light NW winds so the bay would be sheltered and I thought it worth a try.

The bay is within the Lulworth gunnery range and one can only use the anchorage while the Army aren’t practising their shooting, which is generally  during holiday times and at week-ends only. This Friday night would be clear of shooting.

I’d spent the Thursday night anchored in Poole Harbour and when I left the harbour entrance under the power of the little Honda outboard on Friday morning,  there was very little wind . The wind remained almost non existent and I was under outboard power for most of the trip. I rounded  St Alban’s head  with the tide, very close inshore – almost within a stone’s throw of the land  – to avoid the worst of the tidal race there, but still had a some little overfalls to get through.

As I got closer to Worbarrow Bay I cut the engine, being tired of the noise and allowed the tide to drift me towards the bay.

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Approaching the bay

As I entered the bay there was enough NW wind to give me steerage way. So decided that the western end, Mupe Bay,  inshore of the Mupe rocks, would give me plenty of shelter. So in the early afternoon I anchored, choosing the best spot,  in 15ft of water not far from the stony beach. Mine was the only boat there at first but a couple of hours later this one arrived and dropped anchor a hundred feet nearer to the Rupe Rocks.

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My new neighbour in Rupe Bay. The Rupe rocks to seaward of us, stick up like fangs and as the tide lowers, more of the reef that they stand on is exposed. The water is placid here as the Rupe Rocks break up the swell which is nearly always present. Even when the tide is in and the rocks are nearly completely covered, they still have a calming effect.

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In the bay. Exposed to the South.

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In Rupe bay. looking towards inshore near the stony beach. The white scar in the cliff shows where a recent rock fall was.

I was surprised to have to share the anchorage as I anticipated having it all to myself. Before dark a couple more boats arrived to anchor nearby. More boats than I expected but not crowded .  I thought we’d all have a quiet night without any drama..

After dark – about 10 ish,  the wind markedly increased. Big violent gusts from the west which had us snubbing to our anchor and the little boat shearing about. After half an hour the gusts were increasing further. We were yawing through 180 degrees with the anchor rode stretching and creaking as it took the strain at the end of each swing. This was really unexpected, the forecast was for light winds and a fine  settled night.

The boat next to us  – the one in the photo with a bicycle on the back – dragged his anchor and was heading towards the east – the other end of Worbarrow Bay at a high rate of knots. I wasn’t sure if the skipper was aware of his situation – I couldn’t see anyone on deck and it would have been useless shouting against the wind. I started to get out my own big heavy storm anchor and assemble it just in case it would be needed.

Eventually the dragging boat skipper woke up – but how anyone could relax below deck in those conditions is a mystery to me – and used his engine to slowly regain his previous position and re-anchor.

After about midnight the wind diminished and calmed down more each minute. I stayed up on full alert until sure that the severe gusts were over before dismantling my big anchor, returning it to its home in the bilge and eventually turning in.

I left the anchorage early in the morning – before 0600 –  for a trip to Christchurch,  the wind being a light westerly again . This time I skirted to the S of the race and had a pleasant enough trip.

To this day I don’t really understand why the wind went so crazy that night for those few hours. Whether there was an un-forecasted thunder storm in the area or if those violent gusts were katabatic, caused by the nearby high cliffs I don’t know. .


2 thoughts on “June trip. A wild night in Worbarrow Bay

  1. An interesting story Jim. I’m surprised to hear that Paradox yaws badly at anchor. I thought with it’s submerged forefoot and the rudder raised there would be enough windage at the rear for her to lie quietly to anchor. My Michalak Philsboat yaws terribly at anchor, but it is much lighter with more windage and a forefoot above the waterline. I resorted to anchoring from the stern which works well when in extremis, but waves banging on the transom guarantee no rest. I was hoping my Paradox build would solve that problem.




    • Thanks for your input Rob. Sadly the Paradox does yaw at anchor when the wind’s gusty, though I think that the extreme yawing in Worbarrow was exacerbated by the fierce gusts pouring down the cliff face from lots of different directions. I’m convinced that the gusts were katabatic – the air cooling at night making it more dense and then accelerating down the steep slopes.
      Unless the tidal stream is in the same direction as the wind gusts there is sure to be some yawing at anchor anyway.


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