The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain) is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another sovereign state — the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea.
The United Kingdom is a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system, with its seat of government in the capital city of London. It is a country in its own right and consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
|Capitals:||London (England), Edinburgh (Scotland), Cardiff (Wales) and Belfast (N. Ireland)|
|Language:||English, Welsh, Gaelic|
|Currency:||Sterling (GB Pounds £)|
|More notes about the country|
|Content - news items, etc.|
There are numerous ports, small and large, at regular intervals along the coast, in addition to many anchorages. Small craft are exceptionally well catered for at most of these, and harbours are often situated in the centuries-old centres of coastal towns and villages. The coastline is very varied, and offers some of the most beautiful sailing scenery anywhere in the world.
The UK Hydrographic Office produces 'Admiralty' charts for the whole of the UK (and the world). These are available in 'Leisure Folios', with the UK covered by 22 folios each containing around 17 charts. They are priced at around £40 each. Charts can also be bought individually.
British weather is dominated by temperate maritime air masses. The prevailing wind is south-westerly, cold and often wet in winter, and temperate in summer with a mixture of sun and showers. The climate is generally colder and wetter in the north, but is highly variable.
Sources for weather information:
- The UK Shipping Forecast, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, gives a general overview of the conditions in 31 regions detailed here. As of 7/2012 the frequencies are 198 kHz LW and 92-95 MHz and 103-105 MHz FM, and the broadcast times are 0048, 0520, 1201 and 1754. The 0048 and 0520 broadcasts are followed by a detailed Inshore Waters Forecasts. The 0048 broadcast famously concludes with the National Anthem!
- The Inshore Waters Forecast is available from the UK Coastguard. The forecast is given at intervals throughout the day, following a brief announcement on VHF Ch.16 of the working frequency for the relevant region.
- Details of all UK Maritime Safety Information broadcasts are available here.
Currents & Tides
UK waters are highly tidal with the second largest range in the world - 15m - found in the Bristol Channel. Tidal streams of 6 knots and more are common. The coastline is often treacherous, with navigational hazards extending far out to sea, making large-scale charts essential for coastal sailing. Combined with the changeable and often severe weather, and high levels of marine traffic, these factors mean that UK waters are generally recognised as some of the most dangerous in the world. This makes for challenging sailing, which will prove very rewarding to sailors of any level of experience when approached cautiously.
Adequate charts, tide atlases, knowledge of tidal calculations and a properly equipped boat are essential. Without good preparation, the cruising sailor will rapidly find themself in need of the RNLI, the UKs only lifeboat service which, as a volunteer charity institution, often gently suggests a donation for a rescue, and requires a round of drinks for the rescuers! As a serious point, they are guaranteed to respond rapidly and professionally to any call, and would always rather make an unnecessary launch than have lives put at risk.
The strong nature of the tides mean that for most coastal passages the maximum sailing time available in a day is 8 hours, with unsailable foul tides at either side of this window. This may be surprising to sailors used to more moderate tidal conditions. During the tidal window, however, strong following tides guarantee a fast passage.
List popular passages/routes, timing, etc.
- English Channel
- Irish Sea
- Isles of Scilly
- Outer Hebrides
- Orkney Isles
- Shetland Isles
Also see World Cruiser's Nets
See individual regions for detailed notes.
EU regulations apply for arrivals to the U.K. Yachts arriving from another EU country need not fly the "Q" flag and need only contact Customs if they have goods to declare or non-EU nationals on board. Yachts arriving from outside the EU, (including the Channel Islands), must phone the National Yachtline - 0845 723 1110.
On entry into UK territorial waters, the "Q" flag must be flown (illuminated at night) until the customs formalities have been completed. Failure to fly the "Q" flag is an offence. Note that yachts may be searched by customs officials at any time when in UK waters.
No person or goods may leave the yacht before the Customs clearance procedures have been completed.
Non-EU nationals must obtain permission to enter the UK from an Immigration officer. Notify the Customs officer on arrival who will advise the local Immigration Office location and contact information.
Health Clearance must be obtained if there are any animals or birds aboard and if there is any illness with any crewmember. Contact the Port Health Authority by radio, 4 to 12 hours before arrival or immediately on arrival if advance contact is not possible. No-one may board or leave the yacht until the Health officials have cleared the yacht.
If staying in another EU member country before entering a pet "passport" maybe acquired. This is health document and you can find out from a vet or possibly the local harbor master will know who you need to speak to in order to get the proper documents. The UK will impound any animal that enters without proper documents and depending on out come there can be fines and/or "destruction" of the animal. Contacting the UK consulate in different areas has had mixed results by reports given.
When departing the UK you must complete sections 1 & 2 of Form C1331 and hand part 1 in to Customs before departure. You may alternatively deposit it in a Customs Post Box, or post (or deliver) it to one of the Customs offices at one of the "Main Ports". Part 2 must be retained on board the yacht.
The C1331 form is available from many yacht clubs, marinas and port offices and can also be downloaded from the HMRC website.
Customs and Immigration
Full details are available from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
Goods to be declared to Customs
- Yachts arriving from another EU country:
- Any animals or birds on board
- Any prohibited or restricted goods
- Any duty-free stores
- If VAT is owing on the vessel
- Boats arriving from a country outside the European Union:
- Any goods listed above
- Goods in excess of the duty-free allowance
- Firearms and ammunition, including gas pistols and similar weapons, may not be imported into the UK.
- Prohibited imports include meat, poultry and many other animal products; plants and produce, including potatoes and certain other fruit and vegetables; certain articles made from endangered species including fur, ivory and reptile leather. Contact DEFRA for more information, The telephone numbers are: Meat and animal products Ph: +44(0)20 7904 6501; and Fruit and vegetables Ph: +44 (0)1904 455191/2/5.
- PETS: Dogs, cats and other rabies susceptible animals must not be landed unless you have a British pet import licence. The animals will be required to undergo a period of quarantine in an approved premises. Animals going directly into quarantine may only be landed at the following ports: Dover Eastern Docks, Harwich, Parkeston Quay, Hull, Portsmouth, Southampton. Birds, including family pets will also require a British health import licence before being allowed into the UK. Full details of regulations and quarantine requirements, as well as the application form for the import licence, can be found at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website
The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) allows pet dogs, cats or ferrets into or back into the UK without quarantine. Contact the PETS helpline - Ph: +44(0)870 241 1710, Fax: +44(0)1245 458749. Email. In order to bring dogs or cats into UK under the PETS scheme from any of the listed countries you must have had them microchipped, vacinated against rabies and blood tested. See the DEFRA website for full up-to-date details.
- EU regulations are applicable regarding temporary importation of vessels.
- At many entry points the Customs officer also acts as the Immigration officer.
- The United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen Agreement area.
Non-EU nationals must obtain permission to enter the UK from an Immigration officer. Notify the Customs officer on arrival who will advise you of the local Immigration Office location and contact information.
For any non-EU crewmembers, immigration must be contacted if arriving from outside the following countries or territories: UK, Isle of Man, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands.
Visas are required for nationals of the following countries :-
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burma(Myanmar), Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verdes, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic), Congo (Republic of), Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Sao Tome e Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Surinam, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo,Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Visas must be obtained in advance from a British embassy or consulate.
Nationals of countries who do not require a visa, are normally granted a stay of up to six months if they can prove the availability of sufficient funds.
Health & Security
- The UK is a very secure country with a low crime rate.
- In the wake of the 7/7 bombings in London and a continued terrorist threat, security at ports remains high.
- Police patrol ports regularly, on shore and on the water.
Also see individual countries and regions.
Countries, Ports & Anchorages
- Ascension Island
- British Virgin Islands (BVI)
- Cayman Islands
- Cyprus Territories
- Falkland Islands
- St Helena
- Tristan da Cunha
- Turks & Caicos Islands
Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.
List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)
References & Publications
Books, Guides, etc.
- Perrin Towler and Mark Fishwick, Nautical Almanac, Reed's Almanac (October 22, 2015), ISBN 978-1472919380
- An invaluable reference, with full tide tables and tidal stream charts for the UK and from Denmark to Gibraltar, Northern Morocco and the Azores, in addition to information on ports and general reference information. Also available as the smaller and cheaper Small Craft Almanac.
- Tom Cunliffe, The Shell Channel Pilot: South Coast of England, the North Coast of France and the Channel Islands, Imray,Laurie,Norie & Wilson Ltd; 7th Revised edition edition (December 16, 2013), ISBN 978-1846234460
- Peter Carnegie; RCC Pilotage Foundation, [Channel Islands, Cherbourg Peninsula, North Brittany], Imray,Laurie,Norie & Wilson Ltd (2015), ISBN 978-1846234439
Websites that List Available Guides & Books
- RCC Pilotage Foundation, Passage Planning Map based index to RCC Crusing Guide Books & Passage Planning Guides
- Imray produce many Cruising Guides for Many areas of the world
- Conference of Yacht Cruising Clubs (UK), Sailing Directions published by CYCC members has many guides for the UK and a few that cover over areas of Europe
- Ocean Cruising Club, Cruising Areas This website contains information for a large number of cruing areas including brief information about each area and a list of guide books as well as a Google map of the locations in the reports
- Cruising Association, Publications Books and Cruising Guides
- Adlard Coles Nautical Publisher, Cruising & Chartering Produce a number of Cruising Guides and Passage Planning Books as well as many other nautical books
- Bookharbour.com (Kelvin Hughes Limited) On Line Book Shop Has many Pilot books covering many areas of the world
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