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Coasts and harbours of South West England from Weymouth to the Scilly Islands are attractive, and generally easy to navigate. The relatively few offshore dangers are well marked by buoys or beacons. It's a great two or three week cruise there and back, mainly day sailing, ideal for gaining experience before facing the challenges of French pilotage. There's little commercial traffic, though fishermen's pots are an occasional hazard. A full range of yacht support is always available within 30nm anywhere on these coasts, and major towns have good rail connections with each other and London.
See Channel Overall for information which applies to all Channel regions.
Tidal streams run up to 3kts off headlands, which means you must go with the flow past "Tidal gates". These will dictate your passage planning when going to windward, since there's no point in just standing still for four hours waiting for the tide to turn. Especially when wind against tide creates some dangerous overfalls. Better to drop hook if there's somewhere convenient, or pause in a port. Catching tides does force occasional early morning departures. Tidal ranges vary from 3.5m to 5m, so destination planning must take this into account if you're going to a drying harbour on the ebb. Big Atlantic swells are rarely a feature, except in the Scilly Isles. Going to the Scillies involves crossing a busy TSS.
There are many attractive towns and anchorages well worth visiting, with the Scillies being the gem at the end of the line. Lyme Bay is rather empty of interest, but once across, the sunken valleys of Devon and Cornwall provide many well sheltered deep water harbours less than a day sail apart. Many are delightful, and thus crowded with leisure traffic in peak season. Visitor mooring on buoys or pontoons is common, often several abreast. You'll need to be familiar with mooring in sometimes quite strong tidal streams. Some harbours charge for lying to your own anchor. Day anchorages along the Cornish coast provide peace and quiet, as do the Scilly Islands.
Unique Attractions. Serious dinghy and yacht racing. Top quality yacht support facilities. The beautiful rivers and creeks of the west country. Real ale pubs (if you like it!) and convenient pub grub (£12 a head with a drink).
Snags. Harbour charges, crowded harbours in season