United Kingdom - Profile
- The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland incorporates the three countries of England, Scotland and Wales, the six counties of Ulster in Northern Ireland as well as several smaller island groups such as the Scillies, Orkneys and Shetlands. The Isle of Man, situated in the Irish Sea, has a special status and enjoys a certain degree of autonomy. The Channel Islands enjoy even greater autonomy, and are therefore treated separately.
- With hardly anywhere over fifty miles from the sea, the British Isles has always been a maritime nation and produced some of the greatest sailors and navigators in history, a tradition which has continued into the modern age, when British cruising yachts were among the first to penetrate the furthest corners of the world. Sailing is a national pastime in Britain and the proportion of yachts per head of population is among the highest in the world.
- The most popular cruising areas are the Solent and Isle of Wight, the south west counties of Devon and Cornwall, East Anglia and the west coast of Scotland. The British Isles provide a vast cruising ground with plenty of variety, the greatest drawback being the weather, which rarely ensures enjoyable cruising conditions for more than a few days at a time. Most visiting yachts limit their cruising to the south coast, where there is an abundance of yachting facilities, but also an abundance of local craft, resulting in crowded harbours. There are many cruising attractions and more space to be found elsewhere.
- Mooring facilities vary both in quality and availability. In some of the fishing and commercial harbours these can be very basic. Not all yacht clubs have their own moorings, but when they do a place can usually be found for a visiting member of an overseas club. There are some 150 purpose-built marinas scattered about the coasts of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. All marinas operate on VHF Channel 80, which is monitored during normal working hours. Most marinas keep a number of berths for visiting yachts.
- There are numerous anchorages around the coast. Some areas are restricted to protect marine life. Check the charts.
- The most comprehensive range of repair facilities is to be found in the area between Southampton and Portsmouth where the biggest names in the British yachting industry are concentrated. It has been said that whatever cannot be fixed there probably cannot be fixed anywhere else in the world.
The climate is mild and temperate, being greatly influenced by the Atlantic and Gulf Stream. Rainfall is heavier on the western coasts. The spring, from March to May, can be cool and wet, while summer, from June to September, can be warm. The weather is very changeable, mostly due to low pressure systems that track east across the Atlantic bringing strong SW winds, usually of gale force. Occasionally there are long spells of pleasant weather when a system of high pressure remains stationary over the British Isles. In the summer months when the jet stream is more northerly the Atlantic lows track usually between Scotland and Iceland, giving the worst of the weather to the north, especially Northern Ireland and Scotland. In the winter the jet stream sinks south and then low systems track in across England, especially the southwest: Cornwall and the English Channel being worst affected, but also south Wales. Overall, prevailing winds are usually westerly in summer, and easterly/northern in winter. Strong tides make navigation around the British Isles particularly difficult.
In Scotland, the weather is very changeable, two days are never the same, but it rarely goes below freezing between March and November, May and June are often the best months with temperatures up to 24°C. The occasional summer gales rarely last longer than two days.
Weather forecasts are available on www.metoffice.gov.uk Click on "leisure", then "marine", then "inshore waters forecast". It gives a good reliable forecast for all UK waters. Issued at 05.00hrs and 17.00hrs. This forecast is repeated on VHF channel 16 every 6 hours by local coastguard stations to include new Outlook along with navigational warnings.
Marinecall by Telephone - +44(0)845 610 1800.
For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.
East Coast: Amble , Blyth , Great Yarmouth , Hartlepool , Harwich/River Orwell * , Humber Estuary * , Ipswich * , King's Lynn , London & The River Thames * , Lowestoft * , Queenborough/River Medway , River Blackwater , River Crouch , River Tyne , Southend-On-Sea , Whitby
Scotland: Aberdeen * , Arbroath , Ardrossan , Caledonian Canal , Cambeltown , Craobh Haven & Ardfern , Crinan Canal , Dundee (Firth of Tay) , Edinburgh & the Firth of Forth , Eyemouth , Fort William , Forth and Clyde Canal , Glasgow & the Firth of Clyde , Inverness , Isle of Skye (Sound of Sleat) , Kirkcubright , Largs , Loch Harport (Isle of Skye) , Lossiemouth , Mallaig , Montrose , Oban/Dunstaffnage , Peterhead * , Plockton , Portree (Isle of Skye) , Rothesay , Tobermory , Troon , Ullapool , Whitehills , Wick
South Coast: Brighton * , Brixham , Chichester Harbour , Cowes & R. Medina (Isle of Wight) * , Dartmouth , Dover * , Eastbourne , Exmouth , Falmouth * , Fowey , Newlyn * , Penzance , Plymouth * , Poole Harbour * , Portsmouth * , Ramsgate , Salcombe , Southampton (River Hamble) * , Southampton (River Itchen) * , Southampton Water * , The Western Solent , Torquay , Weymouth and Portland *
The Shetland Isles: Lerwick
* indicates port of entry