« Good Practice Guide
In an emergency:
If you see someone in difficulty tell a lifeguard or call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
If you get into trouble never abandon your board (it will keep you afloat) stick your hand up and shout for help.
Waterskiing and Wakeboarding
The Dorset coastline, with its sweeping bays and outstanding coastal geology, provides the perfect setting for an exhilarating day out waterskiing and wakeboarding. Dorset has a couple of dedicated areas for waterskiing and wakeboarding where you can enjoy the sport without the need to worry so much about other water users. There are lots of places to get tuition if you fancy having a go.
What is Waterskiing and Wakeboarding?
Waterskiing and Wakeboarding are exhilarating sports where you stand up on your skis or board and glide along the water as you are pulled along by a motor boat.
Where can I waterski surf on the Dorset coast?
You can use the iCoast map to see where all the Waterskiing and Wakeboarding areas are on the map. The iCoast map also provides details on the facilities such as slipways to help you plan.
- Portland Port A water sports permit is required for waterskiing and wakeboarding within the Portland Harbour and at Newton’s Cove. In order to receive this permit you must agree to carry out specific safety considerations and must not waterski or wakeboard within 150 metres of the breakwaters or the designated 6 knots areas.
- Poole Harbour –A permit is required for waterskiing inside the harbour. You can get this from the Harbour Office or their website. There is a designated waterski area in Wareham Channel that has no speed limit. The area is marked by blue and white stakes, yellow buoys and notice boards.
- Weymouth Bay –A permit is needed within the limits of Weymouth Harbour. Much of Weymouth Bay is zoned, therefore users need to view the Weymouth Bay chart.
- Poole Bay –Outside of Poole Harbour you can waterski anywhere but you must stay seaward of the 8 knots yellow buoy markers off the beaches.
- Lyme Regis, Swanage Bay and Studland Bay all have general areas used for water-skiing and wake boarding.
What do I need?
If you are new to the sport then there are lots of places along the Dorset coast where you can get waterskiing and wakeboarding tuition, these will provide you with all the equipment you need:
- Board or skis
- Tow harness with snap hooks
- Ski rope
- A boat
When is the best time to do it?
Waterskiing and wakeboarding in Dorset can be done all year round. You should always check the weather, tides and currents before you go out though. During winter months the water is colder, winds stronger, there are rougher seas and fewer hours of daylight – this all needs to be taken into consideration. iCoast has a great water sports weather forecast and links to webcams along the Dorset coast which makes it easy for you see when and where you will get the best conditions to waterski and wakeboard.
What to look out for
The Dorset coast is amazing for seeing wildlife such as seabirds and seals, for spotting dolphins in their natural environment, and for enjoying the unique World Heritage status geology along the Jurassic Coast. The waters can get busy, especially close to amenity beaches, so it is important to respect wildlife, other users and the environment while you enjoy waterskiing or wakeboarding on the Dorset coast.
Watch out for wildlife
Please follow these steps to make sure that you do not disturb or damage wildlife while you on the Dorset coast:
- If you are going to be waterskiing and wakeboarding in any areas that are important for wildlife, then respect the wildlife that is there.
- Dorset has several areas that are important for birds on the Dorset coast, including a Special Protection Area at Poole Harbour, between the mean high and mean low water mark. The western and northern parts of Portland Harbour are also very important for over wintering birds. It is important not to disturb roosting or nesting birds at high tide at certain times of the year:
- Between November and March birds are “over wintering” and need to conserve energy reserves.
- Between mid-April and the end of June birds are breeding. If birds are disturbed during this time then birds can abandon eggs or chicks.
- Don’t go too close to wildlife– by all means look, but then move on.
- Avoid eelgrass (seagrass) sensitive areas – within Poole Harbour, close to Whitley Lake, there are some eelgrass sensitive zones which are marked with buoys; It is important not to damage these beds because they:
- Provide a sheltered habitat for lots of species including, cuttlefish, fish, and spiny and short-snouted seahorses.
- Provide a food for overwintering birds such as brent geese, wigeon and mute swans.
- Stabilise the sediment.
To find out more about eelgrass beds in Poole Harbour see the Poole Harbour Eelgrass leaflet.
- Report live strandings of cetaceans, and injured/entangled marine mammals to British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) on 01825 765546 (24 hours). Report all other live injured or entangled animals to RSPCA 0300 1234 999.
- Take home all your rubbish – discarded rubbish found in the sea or on beaches spoils people’s experience of the Dorset coast, can harm marine creatures and birds and can be a hindrance to fishermen with litter getting tangled up in their nets. Find out more about Marine litter in Dorset.
Respecting other users
- Share the water-Jetskiers, gig rowers, kitesurfers, anglers etc. all use the Dorset waters. It is important to be observant, careful and respectful to all other water users, including other waterskiers and wakeboarders. Follow the SeaSense code, which tells you who has priority in which situation and how you can be more considerate to other sea users:
- Keep your distance from boats, especially diving boats that are flying the blue and white ‘Alpha’ flag – This flag means that divers are in the water.
- Understand Kitesurfers – When you come across a kitesurfer, it can be difficult to recognise which tack and course they are on. Being aware of kitesurfing can help you predict its movements and avoid a colliding with them. To find out more about how to sail around kitesurfers visit the RYA website.
- Look at the restrictions layer on the iCoast Map – All the information you need on speed restrictions and areas to avoid such as bathing only areas and sea danger areas can be found on the iCoast map –
- Sea danger areas –The Ministry of Defence operate in a number of areas along the Dorset coast. In order to keep safe and to avoid disturbing training and operations it is important to avoid the sea danger areas (see sea danger area on the map).
- The Lulworth Ranges Sea Danger Area – the boundary of this area is shown in iCoast and in the below link. You can find out when the army are firing here by:
- Reading the Lulworth Ranges – Information for Mariners
- Contacting your local yacht club – Exact details of the firing programme are sent monthly in advance to all the main yacht clubs in the area.
- Listening to the radio – Firing times are broadcast on Radio Solent (300m, 221m, 96.1 MHz and 103.8 MHz) during the shipping and weather news at about 0645 and 0745 hours on weekdays.
If you are already out then it’s easy to see when firing is taking place because red flags are flown, and red flashing lights are displayed from the flag-staffs on Bindon Hill, Kimmeridge Bay and St. Albans Head. During firing, range safety boats are on station at the outer extremities of the danger area.
- See British Water Ski’s Safety Recommendations and Codes of Practice
- Make sure there are always at least two people are on the towing boat, one to drive and one to keep look out.
- Always ensure that everyone on board the boat or being towed is wearing a lifejacket and that the boat has a signalling or communication device that can be used in an emergency.
- Check the weather and tides before you go out and only ever waterski or wakeboard in conditions that you are comfortable with.
- Check all your equipment and repair any damage before you go out. Make sure you have written your full contact details on all your equipment.
- Tell someone responsible ashore where you are going and when you will be back. They will be able to raise the alarm by calling 999 and asking for the Coastguard if they get worried and you are not back on time.
- Be sun smart
- Always wear SPF factor 30 and above waterproof sun cream. Reapply frequently
- Drink plenty of fluids as you dehydrate faster while exercising
- Consider taking a rest and seeking shade during the hottest part of the day
- Stop waterskiing or wakeboarding before it dusk
Explore the Dorset coast with iCoast