FICKLE weather and mounting economic pressures have affected the performance of all three local harbours this year.

Figures to the end of summer season for Weymouth, West Bay and Lyme Regis overall show fewer visiting boats, fewer launches and a drop in interest in leisure taking on berths and moorings.

At West Bay although season tickets were slightly up the number of single launches was down from 422 up until August 2022, to 298 in August 2023. Although visiting boats nights over the same period were up from 123 to 132, boat lift figures dropped from 30 to 18 although takings in the harbour shop and for diving air refills both increased.

At Lyme Regis season tickets went up from 51 to 78 although single launches dropped from 207 to 121, while visiting boat nights fell from 410 to 178. Quayside parking at Lyme was down, although only slightly, while the shop takings were £2,000 up.

At Weymouth the harbourmaster reports interest in recreational berths remaining strong with let marina berths slightly behind the 2022/23 season and commercial berths almost 100per cent full.

Comparing 22/23 to the 23/24 season to the end of August, Weymouth visiting leisure craft fees were down 4.6%; slipway and jet-ski launch revenue down 25%; vessels transiting the bridge down 14% and visits by non-resident fishing vessels down by 69 per cent.

Said harbourmaster Ed Carter in his report to this month’s harbours advisory committee: “The unpredictable weather at the start of the 2023 season, with a brief respite in June, has remained a consistent theme this summer and continues to have an impact on recreational and commercial boating activity.

"While there have been many sunny days, these are often accompanied by ‘fresh to strong breezes’ and sea conditions during these periods of high winds have been challenging. Combine the unpredictable weather with the continued economic pressures and the cost of living crisis being felt both in the UK and by potential visitors from abroad, the result this year is a disappointing downturn in activity.

“Continued periods of very windy and wet weather have kept visitor numbers down throughout July and the early part of August. Feedback from local businesses at the recent Harbour Consultative Group also mirrors a steep decline in the number of expected customers during this period.

“During August, as the weather has improved, the number of visitors, both on and off the water, has picked up. While the number of visiting vessels in August this year is 14.5% ahead of August 2022, the overall number of visitors across the season is 11% lower than last year.

"While the promise of an ‘Indian Summer’ is ever-present, weather forecasts for the rest of the season remain uncertain, with a predicted return to cooler temperatures towards the end of September.”