Sailing Adventures: Discovering the 5 Best Anchorages Near The Needles

The Needles, the iconic chalk stacks rising majestically from the sea off the western tip of the Isle of Wight, are a breathtaking sight and a must-visit for sailing enthusiasts. The area offers not only stunning natural beauty but also a variety of safe and picturesque anchorages. Whether you're looking for tranquility, scenic views, or a bit of local culture, these five anchorages near The Needles have something for every sailor.

Totland And Colwell

1. Totland Bay

Location: Northwest of The Needles, Isle of Wight

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Totland Bay is a charming and tranquil anchorage offering excellent shelter from prevailing winds. With its sandy beach and clear waters, it's an idyllic spot for a relaxing day. The bay is perfect for swimming and paddleboarding. Totland Bay's serene atmosphere makes it a favourite among those looking to unwind and soak up the beauty of the Isle of Wight's coastline.

Alum Bay

2. Alum Bay

Location: Directly east of The Needles, Isle of Wight

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Known for its striking multi-coloured cliffs, Alum Bay is a visually spectacular anchorage. While it is more exposed than some other anchorages, making it suitable for calm weather, the breath-taking scenery makes it well worth a visit. Careful daylight navigation is essential, as there are rocks and hazardous areas near the shore that must be avoided when choosing an anchorage spot.

Colwell Bay

3. Colwell Bay

Location: East of The Needles, Isle of Wight

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Colwell Bay offers a delightful anchorage with good holding and protection from the prevailing south-westerly winds. The bay's shallow, sandy bottom makes it ideal for anchoring, and the clear waters are perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The Hut, a renowned beachside restaurant, is located here and provides an excellent dining experience with fresh seafood and stunning views. Colwell Bay's peaceful ambiance and beautiful beach make it a great spot for a relaxing stopover.


4. Keyhaven

Location: North of The Needles, Hampshire coast

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Keyhaven is a charming anchorage located on the mainland, offering excellent shelter and a picturesque setting. This small, quaint village is surrounded by salt marshes and mudflats, making it a haven for birdwatchers. The anchorage provides good holding in mud and is well-protected from most wind directions. A short dinghy ride brings you to the village, where you can explore the historic Hurst Castle or enjoy a meal at the local pub. Keyhaven's tranquil setting and natural beauty make it a favourite among sailors seeking peace and quiet. Be sure to check the UpToDate tide times if you are visiting Keyhaven to ensure safety.

Scratchells Bay

5. Scratchell's Bay

Location: South of The Needles, Isle of Wight

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Scratchell's Bay is a secluded and dramatic anchorage, offering unparalleled views of The Needles from a unique perspective. This remote bay is less frequented due to its exposure, but in calm conditions, it provides a stunning and peaceful spot to drop anchor. The bay's rugged cliffs and clear waters make it a beautiful location for swimming and snorkelling. While there are no onshore facilities, the sheer natural beauty and the sense of solitude make Scratchell's Bay a truly special anchorage for adventurous sailors. It should be noted that Anchorage may need a bit more care on approach with underwater hazards such as St Anthony's rock and the wreck of Irex.

Sailing near The Needles offers an array of anchoring options, each with its own unique charm and attractions. From the tranquil waters of Totland Bay and the stunning cliffs of Alum Bay to the peaceful estuary of Keyhaven and the dramatic seclusion of Scratchell's Bay, these anchorages provide a perfect blend of natural beauty, local culture, and excellent sailing conditions. So hoist your sails and set course for an unforgettable adventure exploring the best anchorages near The Needles.

Anchoring Tips

Anchoring is a critical skill for sailors, ensuring safety and stability when mooring. Choose a suitable spot with proper seabed conditions, and use a scope ratio of at least 5:1. continuously monitor your position. Be aware of weather changes, have a secondary anchor ready, and ensure all crew know the procedures. Use appropriate signals. Prioritize safety and preparation to prevent mishaps and enjoy a secure anchoring experience.

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