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Ventnor

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Overview





Ventnor is located on the south coast of England, on the Isle of Wight and close eastward of the island’s southernmost point. It is a traditional seaside town with a modest artificial boat harbour and moorings immediately outside where it is also possible to anchor.

Ventnor is an exposed location where anything Force 3 would make it untenable outside. The small harbour is highly constrained and only suitable for moderate sized boats that can take to the hard but it offers good protection. It is however open to the southeast making it uncomfortable in strong winds from south around to east. Access is straightforward as there are no outlying dangers
Please note

Keep a sharp eye out for lobster pots that are prolific in and around the Ventnor shoreline.




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Keyfacts for Ventnor
Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWaste disposal bins availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementQuick and easy access from open waterUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
4 metres (13.12 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
2 stars: Exposed; unattended vessels should be watched from the shore and a comfortable overnight stay is unlikely.



Last modified
October 30th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

An exposed location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWaste disposal bins availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementQuick and easy access from open waterUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: harbour fees may be charged



Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 35.525' N, 001° 12.252' W

This is the position of the southeast head of the breakwater that exhibits a light 2F.R (Vert) at night.


What are the key points of the approach?

The entry and the run-up thorough The Solent and Southampton Water are covered in
The Solent and Isle of Wight Route location coastal description.

  • Advance on the haven from the south where there is deep water and no outlying dangers.

  • Pick up the moorings located 200 metres out or anchor off.

  • Those entering the haven should pass through the centre of the moorings and keep on this alignment until the entrance opens, to avoid local lobster pots.


Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Ventnor for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Sandown Bay - 2.4 miles NNE
  2. Whitecliff Bay - 3.9 miles NE
  3. Bembridge Harbour - 4.5 miles NNE
  4. Newport - 4.7 miles NNW
  5. St Helens Duver - 5.1 miles NNE
  6. Priory Bay - 5.2 miles NNE
  7. Island Harbour Marine - 5.3 miles NNW
  8. Wootton Creek (Fishbourne) - 5.3 miles N
  9. Ryde Harbour - 5.4 miles NNE
  10. Seaview - 5.5 miles NNE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Sandown Bay - 2.4 miles NNE
  2. Whitecliff Bay - 3.9 miles NE
  3. Bembridge Harbour - 4.5 miles NNE
  4. Newport - 4.7 miles NNW
  5. St Helens Duver - 5.1 miles NNE
  6. Priory Bay - 5.2 miles NNE
  7. Island Harbour Marine - 5.3 miles NNW
  8. Wootton Creek (Fishbourne) - 5.3 miles N
  9. Ryde Harbour - 5.4 miles NNE
  10. Seaview - 5.5 miles NNE
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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What's the story here?


Ventnor is a seaside resort that lies underneath Saint Boniface Down which is the highest point on the Isle of Wight. It can be found about 4 miles eastward of Catherine's Point, a mile westward of Dunnose. Here the island’s coast consists of a low cliff with large masses of rock, named The Undercliff, rising behind. Ventnor, for the most part, is built on the side of a steep hill leading down to the seafront and beach, and its small rock armour enclosed harbour.

The harbour’s primary function is to support the local fishing industry. It dries and is only suitable for smaller vessels of less than 9 metres, such as Ribs and other small craft, that can take to the hard. About 0.6 metres will be found at low water during Neaps and vessels of up to 1.5 metres can enter about 1½ hours either side of High Water.

Space is highly constrained and is offered on a first come, first serve basis. Ventnor Harbourmaster should be contacted in advance of any approach P: +44 1983 852398 | M: +44 7976 009 260 | VHF Ch 80.

The harbour is not suitable for sizable leisure craft, and they should pick up the moorings provided outside. There are eight deep-water moorings just off the harbour’s breakwater specifically laid out for larger deeper craft. Anchoring in Ventnor Bay is possible but only advisable in very calm weather because it is somewhat exposed, steep, deep, and subject to strong tidal currents.


How to get in?


Convergance Point The seaside town of Ventnor descending down a steep hill is highly conspicuous for vessels converging upon this part of the island coastline. The five miles between Saint Catherine's Point and Dunnose may be freely approached up to ½ mile. The rocks bordering it do not extend more than half that distance, and beyond that it is deep and clear of any dangers.



Initial fix location The Ventnor initial fix is located close to the western end of the moorings laid about 200 metres southward of the breakwater.

Ventnor has 8 deep water mooring buoys laid in two trots of 4 moorings. They are laid in two parallel lines east / west lying with the end moorings flagged, and all have around 4 metres at Low Water Springs. Pick up the moorings as appropriate.


The southeast opening entrance to Ventnor Haven
Image: Michael Harpur


Vessels continuing into the harbour should pass through the middle of the two trots of moorings. Continue on this alignment until the southeast facing entrance opens up to port then turn in. This is the designated path of approach through the lobster pots set by the local fishermen around the harbour area. Nevertheless, a sharp watch should be maintained for outlying pots.


Enter the harbour between the yellow beacons, red-capped and green-capped, port and starboard, that mark off the inner edges of the rock armour. The heads of the breakwaters exhibit lights, 2F.G(Vert) and 2F.R(Vert), at night. The entrance has a slight sandy bar that is shallower than the harbour within.




A short stay under 4 hours costs £1.50 per metre, whilst overnight stays cost £2.50 per metre. Pay at Ocean Blue Quay Harbour Master's Office if the Harbour Master is not onsite. Ring the doorbell on the front of the building as the office is above the workshop, or enquire at the cafe.


Why visit here?
The origins of Ventnor’s name are uncertain. In the late 12th-century, it was known as 'Holeweye', part of the manor of 'Holeway' or 'Holloway'' from the Olde English 'hol and weg meaning the 'hollow way, or the way in a hollow'. But this was replaced by 1617 when Ventnor was first recorded as its name.

Undercliff Cave Painting by Edward William Cooke & exhibited in 1830
Image: Tate via CC ASA 3.0
Some think this was because the Le Vyntener family then held the estate and it took their name. Others believe the name goes back to the Celtic word 'gwent', referring to places or people, with its Latin equivalent 'venta'. This combined with the Danish 'ore' or 'nor', meaning 'white' or 'exposed' beach which would indicating some early Scandinavian settlers. Whatever the case, by the early 18th-century maps were showing the hamlet had become known as Ventnor.

Ventnor’s central feature is the 'Undercliff' that stretches along the south coast of the Isle of Wight, from Luccombe around to Blackgang at the Island's southern tip. It came about as the result of a series of landslips occurring in the last Ice Age. Rising almost 250 metres above Ventnor it creates Ventnor’s stunning and varied scenery. The relatively sheltered location it creates, beneath the hilly chalk downland, produces a uniquely hospitable microclimate. With more sunny days and fewer frosts than the rest of the island, it was attractive for early inhabitation.

Sir James Clark
Image: Michael Harpur
Evidence of a Bronze Age settlement with burial mounds, has been found on the nearby downs. Further evidence has been unearthed of a small-scale settlement in the area during both the Iron Age and the early Roman period. These include shell middens and palaeoenvironmental deposits at Binnel Bay, Gills Cliff, Woody Bay, St Catherine's Point and Rocken End. Yet, despite this, in the early part of the 19th-century, Ventnor consisted solely of an old corn & grist mill fed by a stream, which still flows today, a few thatched fisherman shacks along the shore, a couple of inns and a farm. Its population was estimated to be less than 100 and it was only accessible by a couple of rough cart tracks. In 1804 John Britton described it as a "hamlet...formed by a range of neat cottages chiefly inhabited by fishermen, open to the sea in front, and backed by woods and the high downs". Mackerel fishing, crab and lobster were the main focus of activity and in 1813 the bay was praised for being "the most picturesque spot along the coast".

But all was set to change in the 1830's when the eminent physician Sir James Clark published a report, ‘The influence of climate on disease’. In the report, he identified the microclimate of Ventnor and the Undercliff as being ideal for people with chest complaints. The beneficial healing qualities of the local climate and waters at Ventnor, as he extolled, [there was] " nothing along the south coast will bear comparison with it". At a time when consumption, now known as pulmonary tuberculosis or TB, was a common cause of death, the enthusiasm of a scientist of his reputation was not going to pass unnoticed. Almost overnight, Ventnor became a very fashionable destination and health resort.


Ventnor Cottage Hospital in 1899
Image: Michael Harpur


Building work soon flourished and in 1837 St. Catherine's parish church was built, in 1848 an esplanade was constructed, in 1857 a waterworks was established, and in 1861 Holy Trinity Church was built. The Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest at St Lawrence was then opened by Dr Arthur Hill Hassall in 1869. By then the current commercial centre of the town has substantially developed so that many of the buildings of the town date to the 1860s. Alongside this development, the population ballooned reaching nearly one thousand by 1840 which then quickly tripled by 1851.


Ventnor in 1899
Image: Public Domain


Ventnor was by then a place for the winter residence of invalids. But the later 19th century also saw development aimed at wealthier holidaymakers from Britain and Europe, as British seaside resorts had generally become very popular. In 1862 Ventnor's original harbour was built, but it soon collapsed because the southeast coast of the Island had no shelter. Breakwaters were built in 1863, and by the following year, a steamer service to Littlehampton connected with trains to London. In 1870 the iron Royal Victoria Pier was constructed but subsequent storm damage delayed the full establishment of steamer services until 1888.


Ventnor in 1899
Image: Public Domain


The biggest breakthrough came in 1866 when the Isle of Wight Railway reached Ventnor enlivening interest and spurring on the growth of the ‘new’ towns of Sandown, Shanklin along the way. Ventnor's relatively small sandy beach was ideal for bathing leading to the development of Victorian-era hotels in the town's suburbs and near the sea. The convenient Solent crossing with the building of piers led to an increased interest and desire for property in Ventnor with villas and houses being built alongside more modest homes for those of lower income. Indeed, the Island as a whole began to acquire ‘desirable winter residences’ and was beginning to be seen as a resort for every season of the year. Henry James noted, "Ventnor hangs upon the side of a steep hill, and here and there it clings and scrambles, is propped up and terraced, like one of the bright-faced towns that look down upon the Mediterranean".


One of Ventnor fine Villas
Image: cowbridgeguide.co.uk via CC BY 2.0


The town was soon described as the 'English Mediterranean' and 'Mayfair by the Sea' and Ventnor's heyday peaked in Edwardian times. In 1887, Bartholomew's Gazetteer describes Ventnor as "one of the most popular of English health resorts". The flourishing resort town had several newspapers, a scientific institute, a large library, assembly room, pavilion, various sporting clubs, an annual regatta and carnival, and a new municipal park. Its population was recorded as being almost six thousand by 1900.

Victorian Ventnor
Image: Michael Harpur
The town was not affected by the First World War, although local businesses suffered from the suspension of the summer and winter resort trade. Medical advances during the early twentieth century reduced its role as a health resort but the summer holiday visitors returned in the 1920s to enjoy the area's long summers, fine beach, promenade, pier and the new Winter Gardens. The towns summer trade had just reached its zenith in the 1930s when World War II brought an abrupt halt to the carefree holidays it offered.


The town went on to play an important role in World War II when it was the site of a 'Chain Home' Radar Station. This was part of the south coast chain of stations that acted as a vital early warning site for enemy attack by air. The radar station, unfortunately, made Ventnor a target for a number of Luftwaffe bombing raids. It was attacked several times during 1940 when the town itself was bombed, and again in 1942.

1953 view of Ventnor when the wartime radar aerials were still in existence
Image: Public Domain
The 1950's saw people flocking back to the coast again, but, like many seaside towns, Ventnor saw its fortunes decline in the 1960's with the coming of cheap foreign package holidays. This decline was accelerated by the closure of the railway in 1966.

Today Ventnor retains its Victorian character and has an active arts scene and is steadily regaining its popularity. It's Blue Flag beach and promenade, many vintage shops and outstanding places to eat make it a highly attractive place to visit. To this day the microclimate upon which it was developed allows many species of subtropical plant to flourish here. Ventnor Botanic Gardens, the UK’s only subtropical botanic garden, built in the 22-acre grounds of the former Royal National Hospital for diseases of the chest, aptly displays the locations unique conditions. The harbour has an active fish market and local fishermen continue to focus on crab and lobster with Ventnor Bay crab being a local speciality.


Ventnor today
Image: Editor5807


From a boating perspective, this is a small settled weather harbour that can only accommodate moderately sized boats that can take to the bottom. Those who come here will be treated to a grand old Victorian resort that overlooks the channel from a very well sheltered hillside. It has to be one of the islands most attractive towns and will not disappoint.


What facilities are available?
All the facilities of a town of 6000 are within a short walk.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel anchored off Ventnor.


With thanks to:
Michael Harpur S/Y Whistler. Photography Andreas Trepte, Alan, Daniel, David Jarrett, Ronald Saunders, Simon Haytack, David Jones, Basher Eyre and Paul Gillett.


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Aerial views of Ventnor (i)




Aerial views of Ventnor (ii)



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