Since it’s an island nation, the United Kingdom has had a long sailing tradition in order to maintain ties with mainland Europe. Sailors par excellence, the British also have plenty of scenic spots around the country where to enjoy the wind in their sails. The South of the island in particular is great for yacht charter and there are some superb sailing territories for you to visit like Solent for example.
A country that has one of the highest numbers of yachts per inhabitant in the world is bound to be a haven for boat rental and the United Kingdom is no exception from the rule. This archipelago of islands in the western part of Europe has lots of sailing spots along its fringed coastlin, as well as in the neighbouring smaller islands - the Isle of Wight, the Scillies, Orkneys and Shetlands.
As previously mentioned, the most popular region for sailing holidays is Solent in the South together with the Isle of Wight, the southwestern part of the island with the counties of Devon, East Anglia and Cornwall and the western coast of Scotland. The coastline varies from high cliffs to rolling plains that give way to shallow beaches.
Most of the relief especially in the South is made up of rolling hills and green plains, with the highest altitude on the island being 1,343m somewhere in Scotland. The fact that in Britain you’re never more than 50 miles from the sea results in most urban agglomerations doubling up as ports which is good news for the skipper looking for a mooring place on their charter holiday.
In fact, the only deterrent to most European sailors is the weather. If it weren’t for the famous capricious British weather, the English archipelago would probably be one of the most sought after destinations for sailing. Unfortunately, the mild and temperate climate is influenced by the Atlantic and the Gulf Stream with significant quantities of rainfall on coastal regions.
The most pleasant time for sailing is during the summer months between May and October when the prevailing winds blow from the West - during winter, the direction shifts towards the East/North. Another factor to consider, especially for beginners on a bareboat charter, are the strong tides around the shores of the United Kingdom.
Law & Order
Because the United Kingdom is a member of the EU, the rules of immigration within the European Union apply here. Boats coming from other EU countries need to contact customs only if they have goods to declare or have non-EU citizens on board. Also, yacht charter guests should keep in mind that the UK is not part of the Schengen Area.
Citizens of countries who are members of the EU don’t need entry visas for a stay up to 6 months, provided they can show proof of sufficient funds. If you are from a country that does require a visa, please apply for one at a British embassy or consulate, although the immigration officer can deny entry in the country even if the person holds a valid visa.
As far as customs go, the usual products must be declared: meat or any other animal products, potatoes, certain fruits and vegetables as well as certain articles made from endangered species (fur, ivory, and reptile leather). These will most likely be confiscated upon entry in the country. Skippers should keep in mind that VHF radios that have not been approved in the UK are not valid and can’t be operated while in British waters.