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United Kingdom

Isle of Wight and Nearby Waters

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The coast from Selsey Bill to Weymouth is convenient and  accessible to large populations. As a result, this sheltered 65nm stretch of deep inlets, muddy tidal lakes and lovely day anchorages under chalk cliffs is one of the most crowded sailing areas in the world. It's a place for wintering, keeping a boat, for weekend cruising to visit some rather nice pubs and coves, and for dodging enormous ships. Also, a place to escape from.

East Channel Cruising; Dover Straits to Selsey Bill & Pte Barfleur

Some of the most dense commercial traffic in the world passes through this region. Heavy ferry traffic from Dover to French ports weaves through the main traffic routes (video, 30 secs). All is managed through TSS, Smaller boats must keep clear of TSS, or only cross in the approved manner. Tidal ranges limit access to many harbours, so most all weather harbours are also busy commercial ports. They all have good provision for leisure traffic, but many have strict traffic control for entry and exit (Dover video) .

NW Ireland, Shannon to Rathlin

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In the NW (from Shannon to Rathlin Island -  7/10) the population is much thinner, with many fewer yachts, more wild life and more remote anchorages. These are wonderful cruising grounds for those who like peace and quiet - and can survive a while on ship's rations. Occasional fish farms dot the area. A one week cruise along the coast is just enough to appreciate it, though two weeks may be better.

Irish Sea

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NE England & Wales

East Ireland

South West England

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English Channel Cruising

This page deals with matters common to the whole English Channel (French."La Manche") Other pages (right hand menu) describe locations in the East Channel, around the Isle of Wight, SW England, the Channel Islands and nearby France, and West Brittany as far as the Raz de Sein.

Challenging. This tide swept area is crowded with commercial and leisure traffic, and subject to occasional poor visibility. It's the most challenging cruising area we describe (9/10 for thrills and spills, 4/10 for peace and quiet). Ports and anchorages along the south coast of England and along the French coasts are spaced so that day sailing from one end to the other is feasible - but only if using the tidal streams! Crossing the channel from Isle of Wight westward for smaller, slower boats may call for some night sailing.

Going West. Travelling west you're with the ebb, arriving near low water. No problem on the English side, with plenty of deep water ports. On the French side, many marinas and harbours have no access until half tide. Plan your destinations with this in mind!

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