Sharing their onboard experiences and top tips
We've partnered up with experienced mariner Steve and new-to-sailing Inga wh oare exploring the coast on their Dolphin 31, Jasper. While travelling, Inga and Steve are sharing their experiences and providing top tips for fellow boaters.
Their third blog provides is about building up the confidence to take an offshore trip. If you missed their previous blogs, you can catch up here...
"There is something distinctive about an open-sea passage abroad that feels like proper sailing"
Novice Sailors anxiety
Sailing the South Coast of England is a very enjoyable and unforgettable experience, but the Channel Islands have always been on our radar (depending on Covid-19 Regulations!). While based in Lymington Yacht Haven where we comfortably spent most of our summer, we have set the mindset and started planning the English Channel crossing.
Neither of us have ever sailed away from the English coast and the idea of being offshore made us worried. The anxiety of being caught by worsening weather conditions, strong winds, or fog made us assess the possible complications that could arise at sea and prepare strategies to deal with them and have plan b.
The passage planning was a key aspect in crossing the English Channel and we took it very seriously. With summer winds coming from the West we intended to reach Alderney crossing the Channel at 90 degree angle. With this in mind, we planned that Weymouth is the right departure point. Also, we planned the passage during neap tides and arrival at slack water in Alderney, and also planned fallback routes in case obstacles arise during the trip.
The critical factors of this passage have been widely discussed with fellow sailors that advised us from their own practical experiences and examples. We had also done in-depth research online from trusted sources. Important strategic questions include weather constraints, forecast, sea state and visibility, and making the best use of 2 racing tides.
Weymouth to Alderney
The 57 nautical mile trip from Weymouth to Alderney is the shortest possible crossing that made us feel comfortable. The direct track towards Alderney cuts the mid Channel shipping almost at right angles and the final approach passes generously clear of the reefs two miles west of Alderney entrance.
Pic: Rafting in Weymouth Harbour
Facing 2 Tide Races
The complicated part of the crossing was that we had to face 2 tide races on the way to Alderney. For the first part of the passage, the tide was going to take us East. Instead of fighting the tide, we let it take us East because when the tide turned, it headed West which brought us back on course. It's like making an ’S’ shaped letter in the English Channel.
The other aspect tide related is the flow around Alderney is very strong. To reduce the risk of steep wind over tide sea conditions we set our passage during the neap tide and enter Braye Harbour at slack water.
When we spotted a smudge of Alderney Island, satisfaction went through our minds and tired eyes sparkled again.
To be moored in Braye Harbour Alderney at the end of the day was a sensation that never wears out and being able to make the trip over to the Channel Islands is a very rewarding experience.
Thanks for reading!
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Alternatively, keep an eye on the Yacht Havens news page for our next instalment!
- Steve & Inga, Jasper Sailing Adventures