“The thought of skippering your first cross channel passage can be daunting if you’re used to hopping around the Solent. Mileage weekends provide a good opportunity to plan and skipper a passage with the safety net of a skipper or instructor on board. But if you’re ready to charter a yacht and skipper your own cross-channel trip then here are a few tips about planning your passage from the comfort of your living room.
I’ve assumed that you don’t have a full set of Solent and cross-channel charts or an English Channel Tidal Atlas lying around at home so I’ve also recommended some apps that can be used for pre-planning. See our new Apps webpage for more details.
I’ve used Hamble to Cherbourg as an example passage as it is probably the most straightforward cross-channel passage.”
Good luck, Alex.
Chief Instructor, Hamble Point Sailing School
Starting your planning
Once you’ve made your charter reservation, and have set dates, you can start to consider the tides for your cross-channel journey. At this point you can plan to expect the prevailing south-westerly winds but keep an eye on the forecasts nearer the time of the charter and be ready to change your plans accordingly. I’ve used Saturday 22nd August in my example. This date is a little after springs but the range of tide on that date is greater than the mean range so I will need to extrapolate the tidal rates.
Distance and duration
The online Navionics Web App is free to use and is great for basic planning before you have access to the on-board HPYC charts. A quick Navionics route shows that the whole trip, is around 80NM with the longest leg, from The Needles to Cherbourg being around 60NM.
Assuming a boat speed of 5 or 6 knots this will mean a total journey time of around 15 hours. In all likelihood this will mean that some of the trip will be in darkness hours. For your first crossing, it is a good choice to depart in the early hours and arrive in Cherbourg during daytime. My plan assumes leaving Hamble at an eye watering but sensible 0300!
Tides – Hamble Point to The Needles
There are no tidal height constraints between Hamble Point and Cherbourg for any of the HYPC yachts. Therefore, timing wise its simply a case of finding a favourable tidal stream for the 20NM, 3 to 4 hour journey, from Hamble Point Marina and out through The Needles.
This is where the interactive tidal atlas within the Imray Tides Planner app is incredibly useful. This tells us that the tidal hours of Portsmouth HW to HW+4 are favourable to leave Hamble and exit The Needles. If you choose a specific date then the app will also give you the actual times of the tidal hours.
The animation shows an extract from the app. At the top you can see how easy it is to scroll trough the tidal hours to find a window that works.
The cross channel part of the journey, at 60NM is likely to take around 10-12 hours and that’s a lot of tide to consider. In this cross-tide situation the most efficient method is to average multiple hours’ worth of tide and prepare a course-to-steer based on the offset as shown below.
Other bits of planning you can do in advance:
Navigation tools and documentation
The HPYC boats all have the Reeds Nautical Almanac, Admiralty charts that cover the English Channel, a Shell Channel Pilot, a Portland plotter and dividers on board – as well as an electronic chart plotter! The English Channel tidal stream atlas can be put on board on request.
The yachts carry a French courtesy flag (and the ’Q’ flag for the Channel Islands). Every boat has the necessary boat paperwork on board (SSR Registration, insurance, Bill of Sale, VAT status and Ship’s Radio Licence). As skipper, you need to ensure that you carry your Marine Radio Short Range Certificate (SRC) and your sailing qualification such as RYA Coastal Skipper. Every crew member should also bring their passport and, at the time of writing, their European Health Insurance Card. Don’t forget some Euros!
Thanks to all again for a great charter and the effort taken to make the handover so efficient. Especially with the videos
First time using Hamble Point Yacht Charter and will definitely be back. Location, range of boats and value for money all excellent. The team was very friendly and efficient, and the boat we chartered (Blue) was in good condition and well equipped.
Chartered 37 Hallberg Rassy for a weekend mid Jan. Booking process and communication prior to booking was friendly and informative. The yacht was immaculate and had everything we needed for the weekend. Simple check out process, lots of information provided in the personal review of the yacht. Returning the yacht was just as simple and the security deposit was refunded within 3 days. Highly recommended, we will be returning customers.
We comprised a group of 5 friends; Chartering Kasara, a well appointed Halberg Rassy 36, for a long weekend, taking part in the Round Table Area 45 Presidents Rally.The boat was clean and ready for our arrival, and we were away in good time, she sailed well and when we returned on the Sunday evening the hand back was quick and easy.We all agreed we had had a great time, and would charter again in the future
Hi, I've chartered bareboats from Hamble Point Yacht Charters on a number of occasions - mostly weekends, working my way through their fleet of yachts. Really friendly people, swift to respond. Boats are always in good condition, ready to sail. Their location makes it easy to get to the Solent swiftly. Highly recommended
Just a quick one to say thanks for all your help over last couple of years which has been leading up to me getting my Yachtmaster Offshore award. First rate service both on the sailing school and chartering side.
Looking forward to taking more boats out and going on other sailing ventures with you guys next year!
Finally, just to say that the examiner was outstanding as an Examiner. Really friendly chap and really wanted me to pass. Would also help in giving tuition about alternative ways of doing things after I had completed a manoeuvre.
August 2019. We had an excellent sailing trip around the Solent, staying at a different mooring each day, sometimes in marinas, sometimes on mooring buoys. Hamble Point Yacht Charters was a perfect choice for us. Their location at the mouth of the Hamble river is absolutely ideal, giving immediate access to the central part of the Solent. The company is super efficient and very friendly, and they provided an outstanding service. The boat was in good condition, clean and eveything working. We have chartered with them a couple of times now and we will be back!
Just returned from a 1 week bareboat charter of Aeolus. The service through researching the options in October, where I popped in whilst in the area to view available boats, through the booking process and the charter itself was great. This particular boat may not be the newest on the water but is maintained to a high standard and allowed us a wonderful week crossing the channel to Fecamp and Honfleur before returning for a couple of days in the Solent. Nothing was too much trouble for HPYC and as a regular charterer around the UK and Europe the efficiency and quality of service delivered is appreciated, especially confirmation of the return of the security deposit emailed to me before I got home.
We sailed overnight to Alderney onboard Abraxas, which is a First 40.7. Initially in strong winds we made excellent progress and for the last couple of hours motored in no wind. This boat is good for passage making if you have an experienced crew happy to handle the large main sail.
Friendly welcome. All staff helpful. Relaxed atmosphere. Instructors gave clear explanations of safety equipment and how to perform tasks expected of crew. Very tolerant of mistakes made. Encouraged us to be more independent as the week went by to help build our confidence. Berthed in a number of different marinas each presenting different issues to consider when berthing. The whole experience was most enjoyable and I feel able to crew for other skippers. Excellent value.
The boat and equipment was in good order. We learnt a huge amount in a friendly and fun environment. I wouldn't hesitate to use HPYC for training or charters in the future.
We had a great charter of the yacht Appaloosa from HPYC. The boat was very clean when we boarded her, and was ready for us to board at the agreed time. The staff were very helpful and helped us straight away with any queries.....and my security deposit return was confirmed very quickly. I will definitely consider chartering from HPYC again!
When asked what they thought of HPYC and the day we provided for them: "Excellent"! Everything, as always, was excellent!