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Old 21-08-2015, 06:48   #31
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Re: Experience from North Sea sailing in November

Lots of excellent advice and caution here. Its diversity reflects the unpredictability and complexity of your proposed sailing conundrum. While I agree with those who say that the North Sea and Norwegian Sea (the Northern routes from Scotland to Bergen exit the North Sea into the Norwegian, with its own quite different characteristics) can be fierce and unpredictable even in the "Summer" months (I have been sailing in Scotland this summer among other places and "summer" must definitely be taken loosely!), it is also true that the equinoctal periods are much more fierce in general, and pre and post equinox in those waters on the winter side the ferocity and frequency of storm conditions increases very significantly.

Scotland is home waters for me, and I have dived and sailed for many years year round there, though admittedly less post October and pre May for the reasons above. Also, despite what Dockhead says, the light does make a significant difference, as does the cold, when you have a stinking gale to contend with of a sudden. I for one find such conditions far easier to cope with in June than in early May or October!

I am less familiar with the European side of this route, however on balance it would appear to me, given your starting point, that it is likely the better of the two, particularly if you are shooting for the canal and given the words of those who know it best. However, the caveat about shallow waters around Denmark from Trentepieds is germane as is the observation that you are more likely to be on a lee shore there than coasting it up the UK. FWIW, the North Sea is pretty much one giant lee shore, with LOTS of traffic.

The observation about the proximity of aid is correct however, helicopter cover and rescue potential are second to none, though of course you should not assume they will be able to help you in time, or rescue you even if they find you quickly.

I am slightly confused as to your plans. It seems you may be indifferent as to whether you are heading to Stockholm or Bergen? If it is indeed Bergen you are heading to, remember that between Kristiansand and Stavanger you will struggle to find shelter given the prevailing and the nature of the coast, and so this represents a pretty fierce and long lee shore, and the seas through Skaggerak can be something not to behold at any time of year, but November would be a hard gamble.

Dockhead is largely correct about the luxury to wait for weather windows making this safer etc. But how long do you actually have? I was once tasked with taking 7 punters to St. Kilda from Oban in early May. The craft was a tough old Westerly Oceanlord 41. I had 2 weeks to do this, even for an afternoon there… I failed to get them there. We had 5 force 8s, a force 9, and a violent storm 11. It was all I could to do hop them the short passages via the Sound of Mull, Barra, Loch Boisdale up to Lochmaddy. We were locked down there for 4 days before having to leave at 3 in the morning with our tail between our legs to run for shelter at Kyle Akin, behind Skye. On our way there we had the 9 arrive 3 hours early and sudden as a baseball bat, and it blew the main in half before we could reef it. Had to shelter under some cliffs on the NE side of Raasay until that blew over, before making the final run to Akin. Point is… you can't assume weather windows will be enough.

If you do decide to head up the coast of the UK, you should find the prevailing means more flattish water than not, and you will have plenty of options up the English coast, though fewer off the Scottish. Beware of entering those East coast harbours in an Easterly blow, however, though you may have to.

Once in Scotland the East coast shelters become patchier, though you can find shelter in many smaller ports such as Eyemouth, Dunbar, Arbroath, Montrose, and Stonehaven. Some of these, such as Dunbar and Arbroath are tidally locked, and must not be attempted in an Easterly swell. Aberdeen is possible but is pretty much not set up for yachts. If you go in there you will likely end up tied to the Ro Ro bridge pontoon, though this may have changed since it's been half a decade since I was last there. The best harbour BY FAR on the whole east coast for yachts and shipping in general is Peterhead, North of Aberdeen. This can be accessed in all weathers and has an excellent inner yacht harbour with its own separate breakwater.

If you decide to go the East Coast UK route you will be shooting for Bergen, not Stockholm. There are basically two strategies to adopt in that case. You will either be waiting in Peterhead for a weather window to take you direct to Stavanger (a good option though slightly longer, and giving you plenty of running oportunities if caught out, including a return to Peterhead). The only drawback of this is it is slightly longer in terms of needing a weather window, and this can be crucial as my St. Kilda story will demonstrate. From Stavanger the route is mostly in the Fjords, though you will be forced out round north of Haugesund. Bear in mind that there are few anchorages on the way as it is extraordinarily steep to, with depths of up to 800meters in the fjords, by comparison to a maximum 250 or so in the North and Norwegian! There are also few options to tie up…

If you are looking for a shorter sea route more or less direct to Bergen the best way is to port hop North of Peterhead, rounding Rattray head MUCH FURTHER OFF THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED TO ON THE EASTERN SHORE SIDE! And then heading to Whitehills, where you will go to have a few beers with Jimmy in the Seafield Arms, and then on to Lossiemouth or Burghead, then on to Wick, thence to Kirwall, before heading to Lerwick, with the possibility of doing it via the stunningly beautiful (but tricky) Fair Isle. You will then wait a weather window for the fairly short hop into Korsfjorden between Viksoyna and Stora Kalsoy. Be aware of course of the katabatic winds in behind the "sheltering isles" of the Norwegian fjords!

The route via the Shetlands carries the extra risk of having to skirt the Pentland Firth and Fair Isle channel. These are powerful tidal zones. You must stay well clear of the Pentland and very well clear of Sumburgh head, with its associated Roost, or race. One of the fiercest in the world. Still, the route is doable, and represents that with the shortest sequence of hops to Bergen itself. In Lerwick you will find a welcome like no other, with great charm, great beer, and great music, as everyone plays a fiddle in those isles, and all love a seafarer!

I have sailed those waters in the Scottish side of the Norwegian many times, including in late September and October. I have also crossed to Norway by both routes and as Dockhead says, it is doable. HOWEVER: it is hard and tricky sailing, and definitely carries increased risk by comparison to doing it in Summer, which journey I would recommend to anyone!

Caveat Navigator.



‘Structural engineering is the art of modeling materials we do not wholly understand into shapes we cannot precisely analyse as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess in such a way that the public at large has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.’
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Old 25-08-2015, 17:42   #32
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Re: Experience from North Sea sailing in November

Also in the warmer MED, my own rule of thumb, out of decades of experience, makes me suspicious of two months:



It is when new seasonal systems set in, and big turmoil comes up. That's it. No November, no May, if I can choose

Said that, hopping on harbours set leewards sounds pretty dangerous to me!

No doubt it is better to go northbound along England, then move eastward

And no, I wouldn't crew in a 32' out there in that season. As you get wet, you dry up only one day after being ashore, if any :-)

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Old 25-09-2015, 02:37   #33
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Re: Experience from North Sea sailing in November

Bluesky, if you are in need of crew for a part of this journey, you may consider calling me in. I have some experience in the Danish Baltic coast. I will be available spontaneously in November, most probably.
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Old 02-10-2015, 12:35   #34
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Re: Experience from North Sea sailing in November

Thanks for everyone's replies here and sorry for the very late reply.

The reason I was looking into heading for Bergen in Norway was merely because I had a free winter storage solution there. But this plan was highly ambitious and not a good option considering safety and comfort.

I am due to depart Guernsey mid November to start a new job in Stockholm 1st of December.
As I have roughly 14 days from when I depart Guernsey, I have looked at some marinas along the Dutch coast which shouldn't be overly ambitious or risky with good time allowing for weather. And hopefully allow for a nice winter voyage with mostly day sailing.

The tides are challenging before Dover but looks like hugging the coast can prove advantageous when going against the current.

If I make it as far as Germany I'll be sure to find the marina mentioned here and set out to do the remainder of the trip to Stockholm at spring time. Then the choice of the Kiel canal or doing the Danish coast can be the next topic of conversation Thanks guys

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