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Old 16-02-2012, 23:25   #1
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Eastbound through English Channel

Just a short one...
Does anyone know if there is a difference tide-, current-, wind wise, sailing close to UK compaired with close to French coast, when on my way to Scandinavia?
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Old 17-02-2012, 00:26   #2
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Re: Eastbound through English Channel

Yes. The tidal streams are stronger, the tidal range is greater, and there are many fewer ports on the (beautiful, wild) French side.

If you are transiting non-stop it probably doesn't make much difference to you, other than the facts that (a) few all-tide ports of refuge on the French side; (b) stronger tidal streams mean greater wind-over-tide problems in bad weather.

If you want to day sail a tide at a time, you can do that on the UK side without risk and without extremely precise planning. There are lots of all-tide ports you can tuck into if the weather gets up.

You can do it on the French side, too, and your single-tide runs will be longer because of the stronger streams. But you have to plan it carefully because there are many fewer all-tide ports, and many of them are pretty far up rivers. Anchoring is tricky due to the enormous tidal range (reaching 15 meters around St. Malo).

In fact in the entire Bay of St. Malo there isn't really a single all-tide port (leaving aside the Channel Islands). You have to lock into St. Malo itself in a narrow time range around HW. There is a marina outside the lock, however, if your boat isn't too big or deep for it. You have to go all the way around to Cherbourg, and to get there you have to run the infamous Alderny Race or sail a long way around it. I have to say, however, that it is unbelievably beautiful there.
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Old 17-02-2012, 00:35   #3
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Re: Eastbound through English Channel

Concerning wind: the prevailing wind is said to be SW, but can come from any direction as cyclones and anti-cyclones roll over the UK with the Gulf Stream. There is a lot of N in the winter. As in many places in the Northern Hemisphere, a NE is a wind to fear.

The sea conditions can be really nasty with wind over strong tidal streams in the Channel.

The Straits of Dover act as a funnel intensifying the wind and that is no where to be in a SW gale; just Google "Hot Liquid Dover Rescue" if you want to read a recent, hair-raising story.

If you have time, there is an amazing multitude of fascinating, beautiful places on both sides of the Channel. I have been cruising in the Channel for nearly three years and feel like I have only just scratched the surface. You would not regret spending a month cruising the Channel, if you have the time.

One last tip: the Channel has the most intense ship traffic of any sea lane in the world. Crossing the Channel in a yacht has been described as feeling like a squirrel running across a busy motorway. AIS and radar are strongly advised; a good hand bearing compass, a sharp watch, and good knowledge of how to maneuver out of a potential close encounter are absolutely essential.
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Old 17-02-2012, 12:28   #4
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Re: Eastbound through English Channel

Dockhead..

I think you scared Tolly off with your dire channel weather predictions.

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Old 17-02-2012, 14:39   #5
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Re: Eastbound through English Channel

Scandinavia is a big place. To Denmark you may opt for sailing along the S shore. To the belts / Sweden and Norway I would probably sail along the N (British) coast.

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Old 17-02-2012, 15:16   #6
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Re: Eastbound through English Channel

You could always go around the top!
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Old 17-02-2012, 15:23   #7
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Re: Eastbound through English Channel

Found this app (for android but think it's a web site too) in a sailing newspaper the other day... not sure how much detail it goes into bit if you have a look in the nav section i believe it does detail tides around the south coast of England / north France... I remember seeing it but can't remember extacly where on there I found it...

sailingalmanac.com/
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