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Sandown Bay

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Overview





Sandown Bay is located off the south coast of England on the southeast side of the Isle of Wight. It is a broad open bay that is shared by the villages of Shanklin and Sandown off which it is possible to anchor.

The bay makes a good anchorage in offshore winds from southwest round through west to north. Access is straightforward at any stage of the tide, day or night as there are no outlying dangers.
Please note

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




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Keyfacts for Sandown Bay
Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot 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 areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaBicycle 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 locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Note: sectioned off swimming area in the vicinity

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
August 24th 2018

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot 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 areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaBicycle 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 locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Note: sectioned off swimming area in the vicinity



Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 38.877' N, 001° 9.243' W

This is about 600 metres south by southwest of Samdown pier head in about 4 metres.

What is the initial fix?

The following Sandown Pier initial fix will set up a final approach:
50° 38.790' N, 001° 8.880' W
This is set on the 10 metre contour ¼ of a mile southeast of the head of Sandown Pier. From here a course of about 265° T leads towards the pier that at night exhibits 2 vertical fixed reds 2F.R(vert)7m2M from the head of pier.


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.

  • Come in from the southeast onto the head of Sandown Pier.

  • Break off and anchor about 600 metres to south by southeast of the pierhead.



Not what you need?
Try our Advanced Havens Search tool to find locations with the specific attributes you need, or click the 'Next', coastal clockwise, or 'Previous', coastal anti-clockwise, buttons to progress through neighbouring havens. Below are the ten nearest havens to Sandown Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Whitecliff Bay - 1.7 miles ENE
  2. Bembridge Harbour - 2.1 miles NE
  3. Ventnor - 2.4 miles SSW
  4. St Helens Duver - 2.7 miles NE
  5. Priory Bay - 2.8 miles NNE
  6. Seaview - 3.1 miles NNE
  7. Ryde Harbour - 3.2 miles N
  8. Ryde Roads - 3.5 miles NNW
  9. Wootton Creek (Fishbourne) - 3.5 miles NNW
  10. Newport - 3.9 miles WNW
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Whitecliff Bay - 1.7 miles ENE
  2. Bembridge Harbour - 2.1 miles NE
  3. Ventnor - 2.4 miles SSW
  4. St Helens Duver - 2.7 miles NE
  5. Priory Bay - 2.8 miles NNE
  6. Seaview - 3.1 miles NNE
  7. Ryde Harbour - 3.2 miles N
  8. Ryde Roads - 3.5 miles NNW
  9. Wootton Creek (Fishbourne) - 3.5 miles NNW
  10. Newport - 3.9 miles WNW
Alternatively the above can be ordered by compass direction or coastal sequence


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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How to get in?


Sandown Bay is a broad open bay stretching along the largest part of the south-eastern coast of the Isle of Wight. It is located between Dunnose and Culver Cliff, five miles northeast, and shared by the seaside resort towns of Shanklin and Sandown. The former, Shanklin, lies 1½ miles northward of Dunnose and Sandown is located in the centre of the bay. A pier with a pavilion at its head, extends out 400 metres southeast from the shore at Sandown.

Sandown Bay’s waters are shallow out to a distance of about a ¼ of a mile from the shore where the 2 metre contour can be found. Outside of this the 2 to 5 metre contour is about 100 metres wide. The bay is clear of any hazards beyond a ¼ of a mile from the shore save for a pipeline. This well charted outflow pipe runs out south-eastward for 1½ miles from the shore at Yaverland in the north end of the bay.




Convergance Point Culver Down with the conspicuous Yarmouth monument and the bright chalky Culver Cliff, makes an easily identified seamark for vessels approaching from all directions.




Initial fix location The initial fix is set on the 10 metre contour a ¼ of a mile southeast of the head of Sandown Pier. From here steer into towards the pier on a course of about 265° T towards Sandown Pier. At night 2 vertical fixed reds are exhibited from the head of pier 2F.R(vert)7m2M.

Depths should gradually shoal from 10 metres in towards the beach. Break off at a comfortable depth to find an anchorage. A LAT depth of 1.8 metres will be found alongside the head of the pier.

Speed must be kept below 10 knots in the recreational area within 400 metres of the beach, marked in summer by yellow buoys, between 0900 and 1800. Keep an eye out for a small yellow weather buoy with an aerial.



Haven location Vessels may anchor according to draft anywhere in Sandown Bay. Local advice suggests it is best to stay well clear of the pier to avoid any legacy objects that may surrounding it. Likewise the section to the northeast of the pier is best avoided as it was in the past a mooring ground for fishing craft and is most likely foul. A favourite spot for boatmen is about 600 metres south by southwest of the pier head in about 4 metres. This provides good sand holding and weak tidal streams.
Please note

Any further in and the noise from the beach during the day, or the early morning sound of crows feeding at dawn on the resort detritus, or the tractor raking the sand from about 5:30 AM, may not be conducive to a good rest.





Land by tender on the beach.


Why visit here?
Sandown was not always known by this name and was first recoded in the Doomsday Book of 1086 as Sande. Later, in 1271, it was recorded as Sandham formed from the conjunction of ‘sand & hamm’ derived from ‘sandy enclosure or river meadow’. It remained as ‘Sandham’ for the hundreds of years that it was a remote hinterland. It was only in the nineteenth century, after waves of Victorian holiday makers had transformed the bay into a seaside resort, that the name morphed into ‘Sandown’. This alteration may be the result of connecting its sandy beach with the magnificent Culver Down that overlooks it, or the newcomer’s familiarity with Surrey’s ‘Sandown Park’, or a combination of both. Whatever the case, by the end of the nineteenth century, ‘Sandham’ was lost and ‘Sandown’ and ‘Sandown Bay’ prevailed as the place names.


Sandown Bay’s significance before the arrival of the Victorian holidaymakers was that of its military exposure. In this regard, the protected bay, wide sandy beach and ease of access to the hinterland offered the perfect place to land an army and invade the island. Henry VIII built Sandham Castle in the centre of the bay as an early part of his chain of coastal defences to protect the island against a French or Spanish invasion. The castle was attacked and overwhelmed whilst undergoing construction during the large scale invasion of island of 1545. As it happened the French force landed in Whitecliff Bay, on the opposite side of Culver Down, and fought skirmishes over the Down to attack Sandham Castle. The castle fell but the overall attack was driven off by the Captain of the Isle of Wight militia Richard Worsley. The attack was a close run thing and pointed to the importance of the defence measures to protect the island, which could provide the perfect toe hold to advance onto the mainland. To this day the bay and Culver Cliff are dotted with the forts and barricades that provided protection against an invasion of Sandown Bay. In the fullness of time none were to be attacked again save for the Sandham Fort that easily fought off a small assault from, most likely French, privateers in 1788.


Although Henry’s Sandown Castle was to survive the 1545 French attack it did not survive the annual battering it received from Sandown Bay. The cliffs eroded out beneath it and by 1631, when part of the castle had already collapsed, the decision was taken to demolish what remained and build a new fort further in. It is said that the remains of the old castle’s foundations can still be seen in the bay at low tide. The new defensive structure that replaced it was the aforementioned and formidable Sandham Fort. It was built slightly further up the coast using much of Sandham Castle’s stone. Sandham Fort was one of the first forts to be built in England with arrow headed bastions and an entrance in the northwest curtain. It quickly became known as the ‘Diamond Fort’ after its plan. By chance the year of the last attack on the Fort was to be the year in which the first seed of what would be the bay’s new destiny was to be sewn.


1788 was the year that the radical journalist and politician John Wilkes acquired one of the first non-military buildings in Sandown Bay. The house he purchased was called ‘Sandham Cottage’, that he later referred to as ‘Villakin’, and his use of it as a holiday home was largely responsible for putting Sandham on the map as a leisure destination. When the Victorian love of the seaside resort was ignited by the construction of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton and later focused on the island by Queen Victoria building her Osborne House holiday home here, Sandown was set to be entirely transformed.


The bay’s sandy beach, sheltered aspect and the Isle of Wight’s comparatively sunny weather was to captivate the hearts of the Victorians. At first it was only available to the rich, but the coming of the railway from Ryde, in 1864, alongside excursion steamers made such holidays more generally available. The masses soon thronged and within a few decades, the thinly populated hinterland saw an explosion of investment and development. The bay’s frontage rapidly filled with large Victorian hotels, residences and the first landmark Sandown Pier was constructed in 1879. Sandown was set to be one of the largest tourist destinations on the island.


Today the promenade fronted Sandown Bay is still very pretty and far from overwhelmed by its development. Flanked by the attractive 104 metre high distinctive Chalk headland of Culver Cliff to the north, the long sweep of Sandown Bay plays host to seafront and cliff-top communities at Yaverland, Sandown, Lake, Shanklin and Luccombe. The bay’ built environment is predominately Victorian and it reflects the typical characteristics of a British seaside holiday resort, with esplanades, seafront and cliff top hotels, beach huts, wide sandy beaches and a multitude of seafront concessions and small businesses. Its beach is today the most popular on the Island, its railway from Ryde Pier the island’s only remaining operational railway, and Sandown Pier remains the Isle of Wight's only amusement pier. Although the towns of Sandown and Shanklin have attracted a large retirement community that have effectively joined the towns, they both remain important economic hubs in sustaining the financial prosperity of the island. Much of this regional value being associated with the bay’s tourism, with the sea front, promenade and beaches providing its essential features.




From a sailing point of view Sandown Bay is the best of the anchorages available on the little traveled southeast section of the island. Ventnor is typically very roly and only viable for small boats that can take to the ground inside the harbour where space may be found. Likewise Whitecliff Bay tends to be subject to a gentle roll that wraps around the headland.




The bay's wonderful beach, that has delighted its visitors for 150 years, makes it an ideal destination for a family boat. It is sheltered from the prevailing winds which makes it reasonably snug and facilitates a dignified dinghy landing of buckets, spades etc. If the weather is overcast the Sandown esplanade and pier hosts a large amusement centre with arcade games and children's play areas that are typical of a seaside resort. Better still in the north end of the bay at Yaverland is the Isle of Wight Zoo, also known as Sandown Zoo, and the excellent Dinosaur Isle geological museum. There is also Sandham Gardens, offering a skate park, children's play park, crazy golf, bowls and a putting green. For older partygoers there is plenty of nightlife ashore for those who want to go out for the night in Sandown.




What facilities are available?
Sandown offers excellent provisioning with supermarkets, a chemist, a post office, and all sorts of banks available on the high street. The pubs range from the more traditional offering a selection of local ales and ciders, to the more family-friendly 'gastro-pubs' with a wider menu. Restaurants in the town offer a varied cuisine and there are a variety of traditional tea rooms on the High Street.

As well as the Island Line Railway, Sandown is served by regular by Southern Vectis buses running on routes 2, 3 and 8. Destinations which can be directly reached include Bembridge, Newport, Ryde, Shanklin and Ventnor. Night buses are run on Fridays and Saturdays, along route 3. Sandown is also home to a small airport with a grass runway which receives regular visits from private aircraft.


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


With thanks to:
Tony Firth, Port Solent Yacht Club. Photography with thanks to Michael Harpur.


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