Coastal cruising offers excitement and challenges outside the relative protection of inland waterways. Where navigable rivers meet the sea, estuaries are often rich in natural beauty and wildlife. Cruising along sections of the coastline of England and Wales offers some spectacular scenery and a deeper appreciation of the cultural history of this island from a maritime perspective.
Where to go and stay?
Much of the coastline lends itself particularly well to cruising because of the abundance of well protected harbours within a short distance from one another (e.g. the Suffolk & Essex estuaries, the harbours of Kent & Sussex, the Solent, Weymouth and Portland, the Bristol Channel, and north-west Wales).
The harbour network is improving all the time in recognition of the benefits that visitors by sea bring to coastal communities. You can choose a berth for the night from a quiet and protected anchorage, a busy town quay or a well appointed and secure marina.
Unlike inland waterways, where 'navigation' exists only on certain waters, beyond the coastline we all enjoy the "freedom of navigation" - our basic human right to go where we please upon the sea.
Sound and sensible
The coastal environment can become very hostile in stormy weather. Be equipped and prepared at all times.
A means of navigation is also essential, such as a suitable chart and tidal information. A basic GPS (global positioning system) can be purchased relatively cheaply and is easy to use in addition to traditional methods. Up to date weather information is crucial and you should never attempt coastal cruising on your own unless you have acquired the basic knowledge and skills to navigate and operate your craft safely. These skills are not difficult and the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) can put you in touch with a training course near you. They can also put you in touch with a variety of sailing and boating clubs.
Day trips or longer voyages are available on professionally skippered craft. This can offer those of mixed or limited ability the chance to explore some splendid coastline on board a yacht without worry or responsibility.
Sailing trusts and sailing for the disabled
The voluntary sector offers opportunities through various sailing trusts for young people and disabled groups to go coastal cruising.
We are keen to promote our responsibility to keep our seas safe and clean. The countryside code is also applicable at sea.
- We are the Harbour Authority at Rye Harbour in Kent where we are responsible for monitoring water quality to the three mile off shore limit.
- We undertake millions of pounds of flood defence and coastal protection works along the coast each year. Where there are opportunities to undertake these in partnership with others we try to do so. This can result in spectacular improvements to harbour provision, stimulate significant and diverse economic regeneration and create greater community engagement in their maritime heritage.