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Old 30-10-2016, 05:03   #1
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Wintering in Europe?

What are the "best" in your opinion strategies for wintering in Europe?

We are currently in the Windwards and are planning on crossing the Atlantic in the summer of 2017 via Ireland. If we started from the Virgins in late April, and allowing some reasonable cruising time in Bermuda and Azores, it seems like we couldn't get to Ireland much before July 1st?

And then the sailing season in Ireland and the UK pretty much closes up at the end of September - correct? And opens again in - May?

Is it viable to say sail up the Thames and find a place to tie up for 6-7 months and explore London in detail? Or Amsterdam? or Paris?

The idea would be to be in the ideal position to get a jump on exploring Scandinavia and the Baltic as soon as the season starts.

Or is it just too damn cold and miserable to winter in Northern Europe?

Would it be a better plan to leave the UK region and go to say Barcelona for winter?

Cheers,
-Erik
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Old 30-10-2016, 05:16   #2
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There's quite a few full time live aboards along the S coast.. and a fair few good anchorages and lots of near empty marina's between Falmouth and the Isle of Wight.
Instead of going into a marina for 6-7mths why not spend time in the several counties along the way.. Falmouth for SW Cornwall, Plymouth for exploring Somerset and W Devon, then Brixham, Weymouth, Poole, the Isle of Wight..
There's some excellent sailing to be had in the winter and ports are close enough to be able to day hop if one chose's..
After the Isle of Wight its only marina's but Brighton and Eastbourne are worth a stop to explore Sussex and the Downs.
In fact keep hopping along till you reach Ipswich which will give you a good jump off to head for Holland and on to the Kiel Canal.
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Old 30-10-2016, 05:18   #3
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

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Originally Posted by exitstrategy View Post
And then the sailing season in Ireland and the UK pretty much closes up at the end of September - correct? And opens again in - May?
Hi Erik. I'm based on the NW coast of Ireland (a day's sail from the west coast of Scotland). You have the season pretty much nailed - and it can get quite stormy in September as we catch the tail end of your first hurricanes. Both the west of Ireland and Scotland are very remote for wintering on the boat. The days are short (7 hours of light midwinter) and temperatures from 0-10 celsius. Somewhere on the east coast of Ireland might suit well enough - and there is good access to cheap flights into mainland Europe if you want a few weeks in cities or the sun.

Personally I'd go south!
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Old 30-10-2016, 05:21   #4
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by exitstrategy View Post
What are the "best" in your opinion strategies for wintering in Europe?

We are currently in the Windwards and are planning on crossing the Atlantic in the summer of 2017 via Ireland. If we started from the Virgins in late April, and allowing some reasonable cruising time in Bermuda and Azores, it seems like we couldn't get to Ireland much before July 1st?

And then the sailing season in Ireland and the UK pretty much closes up at the end of September - correct? And opens again in - May?

Is it viable to say sail up the Thames and find a place to tie up for 6-7 months and explore London in detail? Or Amsterdam? or Paris?

The idea would be to be in the ideal position to get a jump on exploring Scandinavia and the Baltic as soon as the season starts.

Or is it just too damn cold and miserable to winter in Northern Europe?

Would it be a better plan to leave the UK region and go to say Barcelona for winter?

Cheers,
-Erik
There is decent sailing on the UK South Coast year round. There is quite a bit of Gulf Stream influence on the climate -- palm trees grow in Southampton. September and October in the Solent this year was warmer and sunnier, than July and August were in the Baltic (I spend four months every year in the Baltic -- May-August -- and the rest of the year on the UK South Coast).

So by no means "too damn cold and miserable"! The South Coast is fantastic in winter -- the most expensive marinas in Europe are on half price rates or less, there are no crowds -- delightful. Monthly berthing is about 1/4 the cost in the winter. It is far North here (over 50N) so it will be quite dark for six weeks either side of the solstice, but that's not so bad. You will need good cabin heat -- essential! And plenty of layered Goretex clothing. But winter temperatures are typically in the middle single digits C and very rarely below freezing.

Note that sailing in the English Channel, winter or summer, is fairly challenging -- strong tides, tidal races, quite a bit of strong weather. Many of us consider F8 to be acceptable sailing weather, and in winter you will have to be comfortable with F6.

Winter in London has been popular -- there is, or was, a fantastic place to do it -- St. Katherine's Docks, right under the Tower Bridge. I heard however they have stopped giving long term berths during the winter. It's much colder in London than on the South Coast, but with electric heat that's also not a big problem. Not too good for sailing because (a) takes a day to get back out the Thames; and (b) the Mud Coast (UK East Coast) is not as interesting as the South Coast; and especially (c) the North Sea in winter is -- well, the North Sea in winter -- nuff said.

If you want to be sailing during the winter, you'd be better off keeping your boat in the Solent. London is a little over an hour by train from Southampton, so you can spend as much time there as you want.

Amsterdam is a great city and there are lots of berthing opportunities. But that's now really cold. There IS a "sailing season" there, and it's over in winter. It freezes hard there.
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Old 30-10-2016, 05:32   #5
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
There's quite a few full time live aboards along the S coast.. and a fair few good anchorages and lots of near empty marina's between Falmouth and the Isle of Wight.
Instead of going into a marina for 6-7mths why not spend time in the several counties along the way.. Falmouth for SW Cornwall, Plymouth for exploring Somerset and W Devon, then Brixham, Weymouth, Poole, the Isle of Wight..
There's some excellent sailing to be had in the winter and ports are close enough to be able to day hop if one chose's..
After the Isle of Wight its only marina's but Brighton and Eastbourne are worth a stop to explore Sussex and the Downs.
In fact keep hopping along till you reach Ipswich which will give you a good jump off to head for Holland and on to the Kiel Canal.
That's all excellent advice! I would however wait until Spring is well on, before entering the North Sea. Plus, East of the Isle of Wight is suddenly no good anchorages and not very interesting ports. We typically sail nonstop from Southampton or Cowes to Helgoland (about 450 miles), on our way to the Baltic, and don't stop in those parts.


Falmouth to the Isle of Wight (the Solent) is a cruising paradise. That whole coast offers a great variety of interesting ports just one tide or less apart. Boosted by the tide and by the good sailing wind here, 50 miles is a short day sail. Short is good because the days are short, and you don't want to be doing long watches in the cold. Boatie only mentioned a few of the great ports -- there are many more -- Dartmouth, Salcombe, Fowey . . . it just goes on and on . . .

Another paradise for cruising, and very different from the UK South Coast, is just across the Channel in N Brittany and Normandy. Cherbourg is just 60 miles from the Needles, usually a brisk day sail, and is a delightful long weekend (and opportunity to restock the wine and stinky cheese).


As to Barcelona -- just check out the sailing distance from there to the Baltic. I guess Boston-Copenhagen is not too much further than Barcelona-Copenhagen -- Europe is bigger than you might think. So the season will be over in the Baltic by the time you arrive! UK South Coast, or maybe S Brittany down in Biscay, are about as far away as you want to be, if you want to get in a full season in the Baltic.

I generally enter the Baltic the first week of May and start back in August, going through the Kiel Canal mid to late August. You can start earlier, but even May is not really the season. It can be pretty cold and many marinas are not functioning yet. Vacations in Scandinavia are July, not August like in the rest of Europe. That's because August is already cooling off up there. So you should plan to be gradually making your way back southwards before August is over.
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Old 30-10-2016, 06:35   #6
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

After a few winters onboard in the UK, never again!!
If you want any kind of decent weather then the Algarve is nearest, long term deals in the marinas or a few decent anchorages to hide away on for a few months.
But then an early season sail up Portugal and across Biscay so maybe not.
As for UK, boaties suggestion would be interesting, month here, month there, Falmouth is nice, Dartmouth also - I was in there last winter. Just take a raincoat one weather system after another last winter. Personally I hate the solent but Brighton is pretty cool. London Limehouse could probably squeeze you in. Amsterdam I believe you can get into sixhaven behind the main train station which would be interesting.
As for getting lots and lots of sailing in, forget it. Nice spells now and then but also lots of wet and horrible.
Been there, done that
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Old 30-10-2016, 06:50   #7
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by exitstrategy View Post
What are the "best" in your opinion strategies for wintering in Europe?

We are currently in the Windwards and are planning on crossing the Atlantic in the summer of 2017 via Ireland. If we started from the Virgins in late April, and allowing some reasonable cruising time in Bermuda and Azores, it seems like we couldn't get to Ireland much before July 1st?

And then the sailing season in Ireland and the UK pretty much closes up at the end of September - correct? And opens again in - May?

Is it viable to say sail up the Thames and find a place to tie up for 6-7 months and explore London in detail? Or Amsterdam? or Paris?

The idea would be to be in the ideal position to get a jump on exploring Scandinavia and the Baltic as soon as the season starts.

Or is it just too damn cold and miserable to winter in Northern Europe?

Would it be a better plan to leave the UK region and go to say Barcelona for winter?

Cheers,
-Erik
Think in terms of "Battle of the Bulge," or Canadian and New England winter weather in the Baltic... just look at a globe and trace around to figure out how your weather will be.

Yes, you will freeze.

Much better to be somewhere in Italy where the weather is much more like California during the winter, then launch your winter sightseeing adventures aboard cheap commuter fights.
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Old 30-10-2016, 08:08   #8
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pirate Re: Wintering in Europe?

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After a few winters onboard in the UK, never again!!
If you want any kind of decent weather then the Algarve is nearest, long term deals in the marinas or a few decent anchorages to hide away on for a few months.
But then an early season sail up Portugal and across Biscay so maybe not.
As for UK, boaties suggestion would be interesting, month here, month there, Falmouth is nice, Dartmouth also - I was in there last winter. Just take a raincoat one weather system after another last winter. Personally I hate the solent but Brighton is pretty cool. London Limehouse could probably squeeze you in. Amsterdam I believe you can get into sixhaven behind the main train station which would be interesting.
As for getting lots and lots of sailing in, forget it. Nice spells now and then but also lots of wet and horrible.
Been there, done that
I don't know.. if you've heating its not at all bad.. just about all the ports/marina's are an easy walk to town or nearly in the heart.. apart from Brighton and Eastbourne where its a bus ride.
Dockside chandlers, quaint old pubs etc.. plenty to see and do if one chose's.
Also.. some of my best ever night crossings to Cherbourg and the Channel Isles have been in Jan and Feb.. need to wrap up a bit but lovely sailing.. as for coastal.. no stress.. your usually the only one out there.
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Old 30-10-2016, 08:13   #9
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

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. . . one weather system after another last winter. Personally I hate the solent . . . As for getting lots and lots of sailing in, forget it. Nice spells now and then but also lots of wet and horrible.
. . .
It is true that we get regular gales in winter -- they come marching across the Atlantic with the Gulf Stream. But there is more time between them, than in them, so plenty of good sailing. You should speak for yourself -- we like hundreds of other Solent yachtsmen go out every weekend at least during the winter so long as it's F8 or less Cowes is full to the point of rafting up, many winter weekends, and there's always racing going on, too.

It is objectively not wet here -- Southampton gets less rain than Atlanta or New York -- and it's not that cold, generally between +3 and +10C. Maybe your heating was not working?

I'll never understand people, exclusively Brits, who hate the Solent. The Solent can be oppressively crowded in the summer time when there are literally thousands of yachts -- the most I've ever seen anywhere in the world -- out on nice weekends. But outside of the summer season, the Solent is simply magical, with the highest density of nautical and yachting history and culture of any place in the world by far. It's a small body of water, only 25 miles or so long and just a couple of miles across in some places, but packed with places -- Southampton, Portsmouth, Lymington, Beaulieu, Hamble and the Hamble River, Cowes, Yarmouth . . . it is amazing. All of them just an hour or two sailing between them. And you can anchor almost anywhere in the sheltered waters. Besides that, it's ground zero, the navel, the Mecca and Messina combined, of yachting as a sport. I love the Baltic and I love to sail as far and wide as I can, but coming home to the Solent is always a special joy. For an American yachtsman, it is a simply unbelievable place. We couldn't even imagine, that such a place exists.

If the OP wants a fixed place for the winter, to take a monthly berth for example, someplace in the Solent would be the obvious choice. If he takes Phil's good advice and just wanders slowly down the coast, he should allocate a significant chunk of time for the Solent.
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Old 30-10-2016, 08:13   #10
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

Wow, wow!

What a deluge of great practical advice. Copying all of this into a doc so I can edit and follow-up with research. Great stuff!

I admit I didn't check the distances from Barcelona to the Baltic and assumed too much.

The south coast of England seems great, and I am very interested in Brittany. And yes, I heard of the St Katherine's docks as an option but said to see how the prices are now.

Our catamaran might be the only Lagoon 450 with diesel heaters and *no* AC here in the Windward islands ha!

So, it seems like this is a doable plan with the south coast.

Are there unusual preparations needed to secure the boat to ride out those recycled storms in the south coast? I assume it is not as bad as prepping for a full hurricane? e.g. you do not need to remove the sails et al?

Thank you again!
-Erik
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Old 30-10-2016, 08:32   #11
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

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Originally Posted by exitstrategy View Post
Wow, wow!

What a deluge of great practical advice. Copying all of this into a doc so I can edit and follow-up with research. Great stuff!

I admit I didn't check the distances from Barcelona to the Baltic and assumed too much.

The south coast of England seems great, and I am very interested in Brittany. And yes, I heard of the St Katherine's docks as an option but said to see how the prices are now.

Our catamaran might be the only Lagoon 450 with diesel heaters and *no* AC here in the Windward islands ha!

So, it seems like this is a doable plan with the south coast.

Are there unusual preparations needed to secure the boat to ride out those recycled storms in the south coast? I assume it is not as bad as prepping for a full hurricane? e.g. you do not need to remove the sails et al?

Thank you again!
-Erik

Brittany, and also Normandy, are fabulous! The English South Coast has a lot of wild nature and spots of great natural beauty, but there are many great ports, too. But the French side -- which has higher tides, stronger currents, and is rockier -- is quite wild, with many fewer ports, at least in the Western part. You could spend a lifetime exploring these areas. With your shallow draft, be sure to go up into Morlaix, if you get over there. Another highlight is St. Malo and Mont St. Michel. Then the Channel Islands on your way back to the UK.


There is excellent shelter in all of these ports, especially some place like up the Hamble River or in one of the other estuaries, so you just use common sense. I rode out hurricane force winds in Cowes this year. I took lines to the opposite pontoon, used every dockline on board, and everything was fine -- no damage. I did not take the sails down, but I added extra lashings.
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Old 30-10-2016, 08:45   #12
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I don't know.. if you've heating its not at all bad.. just about all the ports/marina's are an easy walk to town or nearly in the heart.. apart from Brighton and Eastbourne where its a bus ride.
Dockside chandlers, quaint old pubs etc.. plenty to see and do if one chose's.
Also.. some of my best ever night crossings to Cherbourg and the Channel Isles have been in Jan and Feb.. need to wrap up a bit but lovely sailing.. as for coastal.. no stress.. your usually the only one out there.
Certainly lots to see for visitors, and worth doing once for sure, personally never again another winter in the UK Guadiana is high twenties degC today, free showers at the (free of course) anchorage and a decent bottle of red for under 2, might stay here for winter instead.

Back to the OP, thought about having a look inland in Holland as well?
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Old 30-10-2016, 10:32   #13
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

To the OP, masses of UK info in this site...

Free charts, tide tables and pilotage : from Visit My Harbour
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Old 30-10-2016, 11:58   #14
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

warm caribbean to coldassed north europe-- bbbrrr... my dad got frostbite in europe in ww2 winters, he hated it,. ny was warmer, he repeatedly said while shovelling snow of f our li,ny front driveway. prolly uphill both ways..
i have severe allergy to cold. i have been in scotland in august and froze my tooshie off.. damncold. beautiful, but you must love frosty breath and cold nose. but sooo beautiful. heather grows there--nice hardy kinda arctic ground cover. beautiful cold looking and yes they are , cold inside, beautiful!!
i would prolly do med first, leave boat there and see northern and western europe in a canal boat with a good heater. then uk in summer. it is warmest then, h ah aha ha


but, then i break out in severe hives in coldness. (do you hear me clucking chikkinesque, yet? ?? water cold up there)
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Old 30-10-2016, 12:32   #15
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Re: Wintering in Europe?

This a decision the admiral will make for you. Don't focus on the sailing, focus on the surroundings.
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