Harbours at West Bay, Lyme Regis and Weymouth have seen a £200,000 drop in income this year because of the Covid pandemic, with fewer moorings being used and a greatly reduced number of visiting yachts.

The biggest drop, of almost £100,000, was at Weymouth Harbour where the season was unable to get under way until the first week in July.

West Bay and Lyme Regis shared the rest of the income drop for the same reasons although in all three harbours there has been an increase in jet ski launches, more paddleboarders and other slipway use.

Many harbour regulars, often because they were shielding, failed to take up their moorings at all.

Weymouth harbourmaster Keith Howorth, who retires next month, said safety restrictions meant the harbour could not allow rafting, where boats tie up alongside each other, reducing capacity in some areas by 75 per cent.

He told a meeting of the Dorset Harbours Committee yesterday there had also been a steep drop in the number of visiting foreign yachts although commercial activity had remained fairly constant throughout lockdown.

The figures for Weymouth to the end of August show just over 1,000 visitor nights – down 77 per cent on the previous year - with 303 of the 423 inner harbour marina berths occupied during the season and 83 of the 107 commercial berths.

Some items, including replacing two harbour vessels, have been deferred to help with the drop in income with councillors being told that predicted reserve funds at the end of the year may now not be enough now to cover some costs in the management plan, which could lead to other items also being deferred.

But it has been confirmed that plans to spend £250,000 on demolishing the former terminal building is still expected to go ahead as part of the Peninsula development.

Weymouth councillor Louie O’Leary called for further investment in the harbour to attract more visitors in the year to come.

He suggested than unallocated spending could be used to provide electric points on some of the pontoons.

“We need to encourage more to come to Weymouth, we need to attract as many people as we can to help the town,” he said.

At West Bay visitor nights went down from 183 last year to 49 with a drop in season tickets from 108 to 74 and single launches down from 454 to 405. In Lyme Regis visiting boat nights went down from 233 to 133, single launches from 217 to 178 with season ticket sales bucking the trend and going up from 39 to 44.