A TOTAL of 284 boats dressed in Union Jacks and bunting took part in Weymouth’s Diamond Jubilee Parade of Boats.

Scores of people flocked to the harbourside to watch the procession sail past on Sunday morning.

The Town Bridge was raised as the diverse fleet of vessels, which included Weymouth and Portland rowing gigs, made their way out of the harbour.

Weymouth’s lifeboats led the parade back into the harbour after demonstrations with Portland Search and Rescue Helicopter in Weymouth Bay.

After saluting the Weymouth and Portland mayor and other dignitaries outside the Royal Dorset Yacht Club, the vessels returned to the bay.

Weymouth carnival Queen Lucy Compton said: “I’ve really enjoyed the boat parade on Beluga. It was amazing to see so many boats out and so many people lining the harbourside. What a great way to celebrate the jubilee.”

Royal Dorset Yacht Club Commodore Graham Castell praised former commodore Gareth Peaston for organising the event.

He said: “It was a very good turnout.

“We had participants from France, the Channel Islands and New Zealand.

“It was a fabulous way to celebrate the jubilee and attracted large crowds.

“The Sea Cadet band was very good and there was no rain.”

Mayor Margaret Leicester said: “It’s been quite a display.

“I was amazed how many boats turned out to support the event.

“It’s a terrific occasion and the crowds enjoyed it.

“The Sea Cadets gave a long performance – they worked very hard.”

While some Weymouth Rowing Club members took part in the Weymouth Harbour proceedings, others were seen in the capital when a flotilla of 1,000 ships made their way down the Thames led by the Queen.

Nicola Dixon had brought her three-year-old daughter Georgia to watch the boats sail past.

Ms Dixon, who was visiting family on Portland, said: “Georgia has loved watching all the boats – we are really in the jubilee spirit.”

Linda and Ray Beauchamp, who live in Wyke Regis, enjoyed watching the procession with their grandson Max.

Max, 10, said: “It has been really fun to see all of the boats with their flags on sail past.”

Girls boost county in Thames pageant

THE Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant was a day to remember for a group of dedicated teenage girls from Weymouth who took charge of a rowing gig along the river.

Dorset was officially represented in the pageant by Weymouth Rowing Club’s gig Tristan crewed by seven girls aged 16 and 17. Coxswain was the club’s Wendy Pearce.

Relief coxswain Kathy Maybery said the girls did ‘brilliantly’ in what was a very tough row and were in the boat for eight hours overall.

The pageant route was seven miles but the girls had to row about five miles to get from the spot where they were camping to the starting point at Battersea Bridge.

Mrs Maybery added: “They were very proud to represent Dorset.”