Tide Stream – Portland Bill
INSHORE OF PORTLAND RACE
There is ample water to within 50 yards of the daymark on the Bill, but the inshore smooth is usually a couple of cables wide and it may appear less hazardous to clear by half a cable. Currents are strong but there is no inshore set of any sort to worry about.
High ground can blanket a vessel on the approach to the Bill, during which it is essential to hold inshore, but the Isle of Portland slopes down to seaward so that land baffling decreases as the point is approached.
Westbound, a ribbon of windless water stretches, with westerly or sou’westerly winds, from the high northern end of the island to about halfway round to the Bill. On its fringes there will be downdraught gusts.
With wind against tide there will be broken water, but no overfalls, met with during the inshore passage.
The correct selection of streams suitable to take one around the Bill is vital, for taken at the wrong time they set directly into the race; this dangerous period lasts nine hours. Streams are not entirely predictable outside a couple of cables offshore.
Westbound it is best to arrive at the Bill at HW Dover. To achieve this, close the coast NORTH of Grove Point (where overfalls may be seen offshore to the South at certain times) at a suitable time based on boat speed and rate of stream. It is impossible to give hard and fast rules.
Be vigilant for lobster pots. The waters, especially close inshore, are infested with them. Buoys are often insignificant and also dragged under by the hard streams.
Once round the point set a course W out into Lyme Bay to avoid involvement with the huge eddy which sets up in West Bay and returns into the race once the safe period is over.
Eastbound, close the coast not less than one mile from the point, which is ideally rounded 4 ½ hours after HW Dover.
In either direction there is leeway of half an hour up to an hour and a half after slack. It is better to be early than late as then streams will be tending to set away from, and not into, the race. If too early, craft should slow their approach so as not to enter the streams running hard inshore S of Grove point and Blacknor. Kedging is practicable in Weymouth Bay where holding is good, but E of the Isle there is loose shingle off the Chesil Bank which may make anchoring uneasy.