May 5, 2023

Sailing around the UK

Planning the Voyage around the UK

Discover the UK's coastal hidden gems! Embark on a thrilling sailing adventure & explore charming coastal towns, breath-taking scenery, & rich maritime history.

Over the years I have sailed around the entire UK coastline, though never in one voyage. I'd loved to have done or at least attempted to do that once in my life but at my age now I think it's probably beyond me.

The UK coastline is about 11,000 miles long, and circumnavigating some of it can be a challenging journey due to unpredictable weather and tidal conditions.

It would take two, maybe three months, allowing for stops along the way and I think that is something only to be attempted by the young!

To plan your voyage to sail around the UK, you need to choose the right time to set sail, research the route, and prepare the yacht for the journey.

These sub-sections are crucial to ensure a smooth and safe voyage and they are based on my many years experience as a sailor.

So let's dive into each sub-section for a comprehensive understanding of what's needed to plan your sailing trip around the UK.

Choosing the Right Time to Set Sail

Timing a voyage just right is key. Weather patterns, tides, currents, wind, and events like festivals or migrating marine life must be taken into account. Plus, the psychological state of the crew matters. Setting off on a challenging journey in a time of stress can lead to mistakes or even mutiny. Rest and mental prep are essential for proper planning.

History has taught us the cost of poor timing. Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition to find the Northwest Passage is a tragic example. His crew, unprepared for Arctic winter conditions, and low on food, all perished before reaching their destination.

Doing detective work on the route is the key to success. Research every factor and plan carefully. With the right foresight and preparation, any voyage can be a success.

Sailing around the UK White Cliffs Dover

Researching the Route

Voyagers must delve into 'Route Exploration' to chart a course. Thoroughly researching and analyzing routes is key for success. Winds, water depth, and the ecosystem must be taken into account before settling on a route.

Benefits come from flying in or utilizing an online mapping platform to identify routes. Take note of winds that could speed up or delay the journey. Know the water depth to avoid running aground. Also, be aware of weather patterns to dodge dangerous waters, such as hurricanes.

Once a route is identified, paper nautical charts should be obtained to accurately navigate all terrains. Have multiple map sources as a backup plan just in case technology fails.

Ignoring the yacht preparation checklist is never a wise move. Unless you're looking to recreate scenes from Titanic.

Preparing the Yacht for the Journey

Ready the Ship for Travel!

Inspect the vessel thoroughly. Check the engine, steering, rigging, communications gear, safety equipment, and navigational tools to make sure all is in good condition.

Fill the fuel tanks to capacity and carry enough food, water, and other essentials for the journey.

Create an itinerary with weather updates and location-specific rules. Tell marinas and ports of entry about your route.

Gather the paperwork like passports, visas, boat insurance coverage, and boat registration certificates.

Remember wind patterns and tidal info for the route. Have more fuel on board as a precaution.

Before setting sail, double-check all the essentials.

An experienced sailor's story warns of forgetting emergency equipment with drastic consequences, so be cautious when exploring new places.

Brace yourself for choppy waters and sea-sickness on the Eastern Coast.

Sailing the UK Eastern Coast

To sail the eastern coast with focus on navigating the Thames Estuary, exploring the historic towns of Suffolk, and enjoying the tranquil beauty of the Norfolk Broads as solution. These sub-sections offer various unique experiences, allowing you to make the most of your sailing trip on the eastern coast of the UK.

Travelling the Thames needs an expert's knowledge. Navigating the waters, keeping track of changing tides and avoiding sandbars and shoals - it all requires skill and understanding. Familiarity with aids to navigation is essential.

The water depths change quickly, creating new hazards. The Port of London Authority has taken charge, balancing infrastructure with safety since 1908. Designated naval control zones are in place.

The Thames has been a vital part of London's history. 2000 years back, Romans built the first bridge across the estuary for military purposes. WWII brought commercial traffic and containerization. Today, major ports like Felixstowe and Tilbury line the estuary.

For a trip back in time, visit the historic Suffolk towns. Explore the old buildings and imagine the diseases of days gone by. Fun!

Exploring the Historic Towns of Suffolk

Unearth the secret gems of the Eastern coast. Discover ancient villages with stories to tell. From quaint cottages in Lavenham to timber-framed homes in Clare, each has its own unique history.

Take a tour of grand mansions, grand churches and fascinating museums. Sample the local spirit in traditional markets with fresh produce and handmade crafts. Make friends with the friendly locals.

For adventure, try kayaking the River Stour to Dedham Vale - an area of outstanding natural beauty. Enjoy stunning views of rolling hills, meadows and woodland areas full of wildlife.

I went for a walk on Aldeburgh beach at sunrise. The pink sky was like a painting. Seagulls flew and sang. Fishermen hauled nets from their boats in the sea. It was a classic scene, reminding me why Suffolk is so enchanting. Who needs therapy when you can sail the Norfolk Broads?

Enjoying the Tranquil Beauty of the Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads offers a tranquil beauty to behold. It's perfect for sailers wanting to explore the east coast. Its rivers, scenery and wildlife views provide a peaceful escape for nature lovers.

As you sail you'll see swallowtail butterfly caterpillars and rare Norfolk hawker dragonflies. Stop in one of the towns or anchor at different locations and enjoy the journey.

Each bend in the river reveals a new view. Enjoy being surrounded by such natural settings with no daily life distractions. This experience is unforgettable and will leave lasting memories.

Don't miss out on this unique opportunity! Pack your life jacket and a sense of humor and sail off into a world of peace and tranquility at the Norfolk Broads.

Crossing the North Sea

Not for the feint hearted! To prepare yourself for rough seas and successfully cross the North Sea from the UK to Norway, take a look at the following sub-sections. First, we’ll go over tips for preparing for rough seas. Then, we’ll cover the process of making the actual crossing.

Preparing for Rough Seas

Brave the North Sea? You must! But first, equip yourself accordingly. Get a waterproof jacket and steady shoes. To prepare for rough seas, inspect your boat and ensure reliable performance - engine check, fuel levels, seaworthiness. Also, pack distress signalling in your survival kit, such as flares and life jackets. Don't forget to wear a lifejacket at all times!

Pro Tip: Go steady - don't overload those waves! This will help avoid critical damage.

Making the Crossing from UK to Norway

Ready for an adventure? A journey from the United Kingdom to Norway awaits! You can take your pick of flights, ferries, or cars. As you traverse the North Sea, you'll be surrounded by gorgeous coastlines and bright blue skies. It's worth it, for what Norway has in store.

When picking transport, look into your options. Ferry from Newcastle to Bergen? Drive through Denmark? Or fly from UK airports to Oslo, Bergen, or Stavanger?

Research is key before your trip. British passport holders need to check visa requirements. Plus, think about currency exchange.

Pro Tip: Consider budget and time before choosing transport. Each has its own perks.

Sailing the UK Western Coast

To sail the Western coast of the UK, you can discover the rugged beauty of Scotland, visit the picturesque Isles of the Hebrides, and admire the majestic mountains of Wales. Each sub-section offers a unique excursion that will take you through different landscapes and sceneries, providing a truly immersive sailing experience.

Discovering the Rugged Beauty of Scotland

The wild and rugged beauty of Scotland awaits! From winding coastlines and towering cliffs to mystical landscapes and rich history, there are hidden gems to uncover on a journey along the western coast.

Explore castles steeped in centuries-old legends, marvel at elusive wildlife, and sail through pristine waters surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

Relax in secluded bays, swim in crystal-clear waters or climb to the top of ancient hills for stunning panoramic views. You'll come away feeling invigorated by nature's majesty and the unity it brings.

Sail the wild west coast and you'll discover quaint seaside villages, bustling town ports, and colorful fishing boats. Sample local pubs belting out traditional music and tuck into freshly caught seafood. Take home cherished memories from an authentic Scottish experience.

This is a unique opportunity to experience Scotland's captivating coastline up close and personal - start planning your trip today! Don't forget to try the local whiskey!

Visiting the Picturesque Isles of the Hebrides

The Hebrides: a scenic archipelago on Scotland's West Coast. Unforgettable experience for any traveller seeking natural beauty, solitude and adventure.

Sailing the coast offers a plethora of breathtaking spots in the British Isles.

From rugged coastlines to white sand beaches, Hebrides has it all. Visit the majestic Cuillin Mountains of Isle of Skye, or explore the untouched beaches of Tiree. Encounter rare wildlife like otters, eagles and seals. Historical sites like Dunvegan castle or Callanish standing stones for an insight into Scotland's history and culture.

Don't miss this opportunity! Sail along the Hebrides and explore Scotland's stunning coastline - an adventure you don't want to regret missing. Who needs a gym membership when you can work those biceps hauling yourself up a mountain in Wales?

Admiring the Majestic Mountains of Wales

The imposing peaks of Wales have a rugged beauty that leaves an imprint on all who visit. Towering majestically over hills and valleys, they offer a magnificent sight to behold. If you're an avid hiker or just looking for a scenic drive, the mountains of Wales call out to you.

As you go through Wales, you'll have lots of chances to see the mountains from different angles. Hiking trails go up steep inclines, and quiet country roads pass through lush forests and quaint villages - it's the best way to take in these peaks.

Be sure to look out for hidden waterfalls tucked away in secluded glens, or spot rare wildlife in the stunning natural surroundings. If you're lucky enough to visit in autumn, you'll see spectacular foliage on the peaks.

To get the most out of the mountains, try going on guided tours or trips that tap into local knowledge and expertise. Plus, there are lots of cozy accommodation options nestled in the mountains so you can take your time exploring.

Whether it's just to admire the beauty of Wales' mountains, or to tackle the terrain, these peaks have something special for every visitor.

To navigate the South Coast when sailing around the UK, you'll need to explore the well-known routes and the lesser-known paths. Sailing along the Jurassic Coast, enjoying the glamour of the English Riviera, and discovering the natural beauty of Cornwall are the three sub-sections that will help you explore the wonders of the South Coast.

Sailing along the Jurassic Coast

Take a nautical trip along the South Coast's prehistoric shoreline for an experience you'll never forget! The Jurassic Coast spans 95 miles and features stunning cliff formations and hidden coves. Sailors can admire the World Heritage site and its natural wonders with unparalleled views.

Sailing round the UK Weymouth
Weymouth Harbour UK

Visit quaint harbours such as Weymouth and Poole, or drop anchor at secluded spots like Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. The area's rich geological history provides opportunities to explore caves and rock formations, plus marvel at fossils.

The coast is home to diverse marine life including dolphins, porpoises, seals and sunfish. During migration season, it's not uncommon to spot humpback whales in the waters near the coast.

One sailor recounts her encounter with a pod of friendly dolphins that seemed to guide her boat towards Portland Bill. She was awestruck by their agility and playful antics.

Navigate this historic stretch by boat to explore the flora and fauna of the area. Discover a world of possibilities for adventure-seekers who have a passion for exploring our planet's aquatic landscapes. So, don't feel inferior on the English Riviera - just be proud that you're not a millionaire!

Enjoying the Glamour of the English Riviera

The English Riviera exudes sophistication and glamour. Its pristine coastal beauty has been attracting visitors for centuries. Enjoy high-end shopping, fine dining, spa treatments, and yachting. Explore art galleries, museums, and sandy beaches. Take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of Tor Bay.

Babbacombe Model Village is an absolute must-see. It has over 400 models set across 5 acres of gardens.

Don't miss out on the South Coast's sophisticated splendour. Visit and indulge in this luxurious paradise overlooking the shimmering turquoise sea. Cornwall's natural wonders are a mini vacation for your soul. Plan your visit today!

Discovering the Natural Beauty of Cornwall

Cornwall is a paradise for discovery fans. Its coasts, wild animals, and stunning views are a must-see. Navigate the South Coast to find its secrets and the towns with life and history. From St. Michael's Mount to Lizard Point, the Cornish coastline displays amazing sights. The South West Coast Path is perfect for hikers wanting a thrilling experience.

The marine reserve off the coast is full of sea-life. Seals, dolphins, porpoises, and basking sharks are some of the creatures you'll find. You can do activities like paddleboarding or kayaking. The Polperro Heritage Coast Centre has info about the wildlife.

Cornwall's sandy beaches are amongst the best in the UK, like Fistral Beach, which is often top of Surfer Magazine's European list. Pendennis Castle too, has military history, from Tudor times.

Whether you're a landlubber or seafarer, the South Coast will give you an adventure and a longing for a waterproof phone!

Conclusions about Sailing around the UK

Sailing around the UK is a journey full of valuable insights and reflections on the country I call home. It has always been a truly enriching experience for me, bringing me closer to nature and our own selves. I've explored all the different regions over the years and I've met literally hundreds of friendly people along the way.

The sunsets at the ports can be especially breath-taking. These peaceful moments makes you appreciate the simple things in life.

Our adventure showed us that sailing is a unique way to discover natural beauty. It's a fulfilling activity that helps us disconnect from technology and connect with our surroundings.

Sailing has always given me mental health benefits and boosted my self-confidence. So if you have never tried it, you really should.


  • John Sixthsmith

    I'm a freelance writer and avid sailor who loves to share my passion for the sea with others. I've written articles for various sailing magazines and websites, covering topics such as sailing destinations, boat maintenance, navigational tips, and marine wildlife. I went on a short sailing trip whilst on holiday as a child and was instantly hooked. I've been sailing ever since. Although I've done a fair amount of lake sailing in my time, my real passion is the ocean. I hope you enjoy reading this blog about sailing as much as I've enjoyed writing about it.

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