WEYMOUTH harbour is on the up with a fantastic start to the season – according to harbour master Jamie Joyce.

He told the Dorset Council harbours committee that from April visitor levels have been above pre-Covid figures.

Similar improvements have been reported at West Bay and Lyme Regis although some activities been delayed by dredging works.

Mr Joyce said that berth occupancy at Weymouth was now at 90.7 per cent, well above the 75% rate for the past three years; the redesigned slipway parking had increased its daily use and sales of seasonal passes while there had been an increase in larger leisure vessels, up to 20metres, using the harbour.

He said there was a hope that more would be attracted when additional larger berths were created later in the year.

Mr Joyce also reported that dredging operations over eight days had removed material from the harbour entrance channel and at the edges of the channel depths had been improved to a minimum of 3.3m, an increase of 0.7m in some areas.

He said that the operation was now planned to take place annually to maintain the channel depth but was unlikely to take as long in coming years.

Financially the harbour has moved from a budgeted out-turn for the last financial year of a predicted deficit of £290,000 to a surplus of £334,000 which has been transferred into reserves set aside for future works.

Similar trends were reported at West Bay and Lyme Regis by harbourmaster James Radcliff, although he said visitor nights at West Bay was slightly down, mainly due to delays in getting pontoons in place because of dredging operations.

Mooring occupancy at Bridport currently stands at 95% for private vessels and 100 per cent for commercial boats.

In Lyme Regis season ticket sales and day launches were said to be strong with 94% occupancy for private vessels and 100% for commercial users.

Mr Radcliff said dredging at West Bay, which started in May, had now been completed with the material removed deposited on the far west beach.

In Lyme Regis dredging for the beach works started on Tuesday 14th and is due to be completed by June 24th.