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Old 09-09-2010, 14:56   #1
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UK Winter Cruising ?

Hello, I am considering the possibility of cruising over the winter in the UK. It is nearly time to haul her out, but I am keen to keep sailing this year! I am essentially a newbie to cruising, so any basic info is valuable to me

I don't mind getting cold, and I don't mind a rough ride (within reason). Does anyone have experience of this? What problems should I expect to encounter? Any general advice? Are moorings generally seasonal, or can they be used all year?

Thanks!
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Old 09-09-2010, 15:34   #2
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Willib, hi and welcome to CF.

You ought to fill in your profile a bit more and give us a few more details, for example are both you and the boat in the UK at the moment?

It is quite do-able and there is some good sailing to be had providing you watch the weather. November often has cold but clear skies and weak sunshine which make great sailing conditions.

As to boat prep, are you living on board? you are going to need heating. Plugging into a marina each night is possible so oil filled electric heaters a must or one of the blown air heaters or a diesel drip feed heater will be required. Also required is ventilation, followed by more ventilation, finally even more ventilation. IF you don't eveything will go damp and musty then mouldy, including you.

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Old 09-09-2010, 15:52   #3
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I'll second the previous post.. it helps a lot to know where your hoping to sail... some of my best sails have been along the South Coast between the Solent and Plymouth in Nov, Dec and Jan.... lovely weather though a bit nippy on the night passages.
I should warn you HM Customs regard winter sailors with great suspicion.... I pulled into Weymouth in the early hours of a Jan morning, tied up to the wall and got my head down... 0615 theres banging on my hatch and two customs officers who would/could not believe that I'd sailed from Poole and was out there for the hell of it... they then proceeded to pull the boat apart looking for 'Substances'..
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Old 09-09-2010, 17:02   #4
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Hi guys, thanks for the replies, and the welcome

We are both in the UK. As far as heating goes, I have a portable gas heater (camping type). The boat is only 20ft, so will heat up quite well with that I think. I am not living on board, but would be if I decide to cruise the winter months.

I am more keen to be at anchor than in a marina/mooring. I have been reading up on heavey weather anchoring techniques, using two or more anchors etc. Looks doable. Currently have a plough and a fluke type anchor onboard. What is the usual deal with using moorings in the winter, any different to summer?

I was thinking of South West scotland, should be sheltered by Ireland?
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Old 09-09-2010, 17:25   #5
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I can think of more congenial places to sail during the winter. Even in the Firths you'll have a lot of days when sailing and anchoring will be 'uncomfortable' It's do-able by carefully selecting sheltered anchorages and picking the good days to sail. You're going to need a hardy soul to do more than endure it. Be very, very careful with that heater, both for the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and the danger of fire.

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Old 09-09-2010, 17:33   #6
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You really, really need a vented heater and your boat should be insulated. Otherwise you may be dead or extremely uncomfortable to say the least. If the boat is not insulated and well ventilated and heated you will struggle constantly with mold and wet, cold clothing. Have fun. I had a 20 ft. boat when I lived in Vancouver. Similar climate I am told. I would not have lived aboard that boat in winter for anything. And I was much younger and crazier than I am now. Well, younger anyway.
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Old 10-09-2010, 01:14   #7
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Ok, proper heating and good ventilation. Check. I'm getting memories of my winter camping trips. All the soggy cold yuck

How about my mooring question? Will it be possible to get a mooring to use over the winter as a base? I have seen moorings with a very cheap annual cost (that must be applied for), are these on-season only, or generally year round?

Thanks for all the replies, very helpful!
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Old 10-09-2010, 02:37   #8
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Ventilation, insulation and good oilies. Heating realy really helps though I did used to sail my 23ft halcyon through the winter months without it, including over night. But I had a LOT of thermal underwear.

On the moorings - I really only know Brighton to Lowestoft in the winter, the moorings are still there, eg on the Orwell or the Ore and the Alde or the Crouch. If you want to use one as a base, you will need to talk to the relevant owners/authorities wherever you want to be, just as in the summer.

Nobody cares if you want to anchor (except possibly the Coastguard - see above) tho they may wonder if you should be committed. For several years we went up the London River in late Dec/early Jan for the Boat Show, from Brighton or Ipswich. The mud works just as well then as in June!

Weather - cold and unpredictable and wet (bit like a UK summer then!) - so you need to think about shelter very carefully.

Having said all that - we've had great winter sails including some night passages, so long as you've got the right clothing and kit.
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Old 10-09-2010, 08:28   #9
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Scotland doesnt really get any shelter in winter or anyh other time from ireland, as there is a lot of North Westerlies in winter.

I would advise caution, your boat is small and the sea is big. These are not coasts to mess with , especially if your new to this, hole up and wait for summer.

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Old 10-09-2010, 08:33   #10
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Another point to add - the days are very short! This might sound really obvious but actually it means that you get maybe 6 hours (one tide) in daylight which requires another mindset too. Trying to find the buoys in the Thamas Estuary in the pitch dark and freezing cold and falling tide is a good learning experience but really one you only want to have once.
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Old 10-09-2010, 08:43   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Scotland doesnt really get any shelter in winter or any other time from ireland, as there is a lot of North Westerlies in winter.
I would advise caution, your boat is small and the sea is big. These are not coasts to mess with , especially if your new to this, hole up and wait for summer. Dave
I would second what Dave has said, if you want to sail in SW Scotland. However, there is some great sailing to be had during the summer up there and trips to N Ireland quite do-able. Find somewhere shoreside to spend the winter and go for it in the Spring.

As to anchors, you need one good anchor and trying not to start an anchoring debate something like a 6kg Delta with 6mm chain will do. A 3.5kg grapple anchor as a spare would be good on that rocky coast.

The Scottish Western Isles are superb and whilst the weather can change quickly there are lots of sheltered spots and the days long in the summer. Indeed at those latitudes it doesn't really get dark at night during the summer.

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Old 10-09-2010, 13:32   #12
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Again, thanks for the replies. Some good information and varied opinions.

It sounds like for an experienced cruiser, it would be doable. For me with only minimal experience, it may be somewhat fullhardy to try! But perhaps there is an in-between?

Looking at the area, there seems to be estuaries with sheltered mouths/bays. If I was able to get a mooring on one of these estuaries which was well sheltered, I could use that as a safe place in bad conditions. Then, venture out only in weather I could handle. Might that be more suited to my level of experience? I do want to learn more and improve my skills, so pushing my limits is a good thing - while still remaining safe of course!

One thing about esturies is that they are tidal and dry out. No problem for my bilge keels, and I suppose it might be a good thing to escape rough water? Although, on the other hand I imagine a flooded river meeting a very fast tide in the oposite direction is going to result some serious chop?
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Old 10-09-2010, 13:40   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Scotland doesnt really get any shelter in winter or anyh other time from ireland, as there is a lot of North Westerlies in winter.

I would advise caution, your boat is small and the sea is big. These are not coasts to mess with , especially if your new to this, hole up and wait for summer.

Dave
Indeed, and very big tides. A very challenging place for winter sailing. You would be much better off on the South coast.

I think the entire UK has quite a lot of wind in the winter. Last October and November we had F8 almost every day. You can get in some good, hard sailing. Living at anchor would be -- challenging. But that's ok, because on the south coast you have a huge number of excellent ports. And actually relatively few places to anchor.

You will need good clothes and a good cabin heater, that's for sure.
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