Around Britain-top ten tips
Sailing Today|May 2020
Premier Sailing’s Robert Stracey shares his experience of what he says is, for most, a totally achievable cruise
Robert Stracey

Sailing around Britain offers magnificently varied cruising – but it does take a bit of planning. Fortunately, we have some expert advisors on hand to help you plan your trip.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. A journey of 1,400 miles begins with a cup of tea, usually consumed on a winter’s evening, surrounded by a pile of charts and pilot books. In general, that’s what many of us do over the winter; we plan the things we will do once our pride and joy is reunited with saltwater; we dream, and we plan. For many of us our dream is the ultimate cruise, the global circumnavigation, taunting us from within our own minds as we work hard to make everything right: the right boat, the right equipment and the right experience. We chase the world-girdling dream with all the tenacity of Ahab in pursuit of his great white whale. But often we never achieve our dream, as life has a habit of getting in the way of such grand adventures. Having crossed many oceans, you can take it from me, it’s no great loss. Ocean voyaging is many weeks of looking at the same view, with just the weather for a bit of variety. Occasionally ships, cetaceans and the occasional albatross will pop up for company. On one long ocean passage we even resorted to placing bets on whose watch it would be when we reached the alteration of course position, which was several hundred miles away.

So why not find a new dream? Working on the principle that the perfect boat is probably the one you have, why not find an ultimate cruise that is within the capabilities of you and your boat, one with better views, that won’t require you to be written out of family life and, most importantly, has opportunities for outside catering?

.First hand experience

Each of the last four years, Premier Sailing has been organising our Round Britain cruise to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support, even winning an award for it in 2016 (as is due to be mentioned on our leaflets until July 2025). Two boats make the annual seven-week voyage around our coastline, exploring its grace and beauty – from the rugged cliffs of the Jurassic Coast and the greenery of the Scottish lochs, to the quiet fishing harbours of the Hebrides and imposing industrial majesty of the northeast – we get to see our nation in all its splendour. We also get to eat quite a few portions of fish and chips.

It is quite a challenge to navigate such a distance under sail. It’s like sailing from Southampton to Gran Canaria, but with a bit more to see. Yet it is a completely achievable cruise for the vast majority of us. There is no need for a large ocean-going boat and all its associated paraphernalia. Most cruising yachts are more than capable of making this voyage, and yet you will sail against the backdrop of a truly unique coastline in waters that will test and inspire in equal measure.

If truth be told, that is how Premier Sailing came about. Over several months, my father, sometimes alone and sometimes with crew, sailed our family Snapdragon 890 Kyla from the Thames to Barrow-in-Furness, and then with my mother through the Caledonian canal and down the east coast back to the Thames the following year. This inspired him to make a full-time career in the marine industry and, following my brother’s illness, the Sail for Macmillan Round Britain Cruise was born.

With all this in mind, it seems fair to pass on our knowledge and experience to those who would like to make a similar voyage.

TOP TEN TIPS

1. Left or right?

Starting out from your home port, your circumnavigation will broadly consist of either turning right or left and continuing to do so for some weeks. Which to choose depends on your preference for a clockwise or anti-clockwise cruise. There is something to be said for either. Arguments can be had for the merits of each long into the night, so I will explain the reasoning behind our choice to go anti-clockwise – meteorology. Broadly speaking, the prevailing weather in the UK comes approximately from the southwest, meaning that the passage up the English Channel should benefit from a fair wind. Personally, I find few things in life more frustrating than spending 20 hours thrashing to windward, only to make port a short bus-ride away from our departure.

2. Go to Whitby

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