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Weekend Channel Hops

This is probably one of the most popular ways to gain practical sailing experience and get miles added to your logbook. A typical crossing will involve around 150 miles of sailing, several hours active night sailing and valuable experience navigating the busy shipping lanes of the English Channel. For those working towards their Yachtmaster Offshore qualifications, each leg will count towards your 60M qualifying passages with night sailing. What's more you can explore beautiful French sailing towns and enjoy superb local cuisine.

The itinerary usually involves you joining the crew on a Friday evening and after safety and passage briefings with your skipper we set sail for France or the Channel Islands. The crew will be following a watch system and you'll be fully involved in a night crossing through the busy shipping lanes of the English Channel. After arriving on Saturday, you're free to explore the local town and dine ashore in one of the many local bistros. After lunch on Sunday, we'll set sail back for England and settle into a watch system as the sun sets. Arrival back in Portsmouth is usually late morning on the Monday.

You'll be encouraged to take as active a role as you'd like in aspects of the crossing such as passage planning, navigation and pilotage which, under the watchful eye of a professional skipper, is a great way to build confidence and experience. It's even possible for you to skipper an entire leg.

The fees include all waterproofs if you need them, personal safety equipment, all food on board (including plenty of snacks and refreshments) and all fuel and mooring costs.

Please note that we need to remain flexible on which destination we chose due to weather conditions at the time. For example, if the winds are southwesterly it's not much fun beating all the way to Alderney - we're more likely to pick Honfleur if that's the case.

Note that depending on tidal times and prevailing weather we depart on a Friday evening so you should assume that you need to be in Gosport for departure from around 6pm. More details are provided in joining instructions the week before we sail.

Destination Guide

Honfleur is definitely one of our favourites and known as probably the most attractive of all the Normandy ports. It sits a few miles up the River Seine past Le Havre and is accessed via a lock. Once inside we make our way round and wait for the swinging bridge to open and let us into the Vieux Bassin which is quite simply stunning. Not much larger than a football pitch it's surrounded by 17th century 5 storey buildings. It's popular all year around and we often end up rafted to other yachts. The quayside is littered with bistros and bars so we're spoilt for choice.

The Honfleur crossing is about 100 miles from Portsmouth, so one of the longer passages. Ideally located for a beam reach given prevailing southwesterlies it's well worth the extra few hours.

St. Vaast is located on the eastern side of the Cherbourg peninsula and is another of the classic Channel hop destinations. It's very popular and so the marina frequently is busy but the town itself is very relaxed. There are several local bistros offering the usual high quality fayre and the seafood is excellent. The seabeds outside the harbour are used for oyster farming and if you're a fan then they're hard to beat anywhere else.

The port is also tidal constrained so we need to time our departure accordingly. We usually aim to arrive as the lock opens so that waiting on anchor isn't too much of a bind if we're early but, more importantly, if we're late we don't miss the window altogether!

Located right in the middle of the D-Day landing beaches, Port-en-Bessin is one of the few harbours in Normandy not overun by yachts. There's an excellent local market and very good restaurants in this small fishing harbour. During our stay there's plenty of time for a walk along the clifftops, the Vauban fort and World War 2 trenches.
For over a century Deauville and it's neighbour Trouville have been referred to as the 'Parisian Riviera' with two fabulous beaches but also a casino, racecourse and its famous boardwalk, the Promenade des Planches.

This crossing is similar in duration to Honfleur as it favours a beam reach with the prevailing southwesterlies we tend to experience. However, it avoids the long run up the Chenal de Rouen at the end of the crossing.
Well protected with a stunning beach, Braye harbour is the gateway to exploring the beautiful Island of Alderney. This small Atlantic outpost is home to less than 2000 people - it must seem remote in the winter months, but in the summer they let their hair down, welcome us visitors, and enjoy numerous fetes and festivals including the famous 'Bird Man of Bray' which sees participants leap from the harbour wall in homemade wing suits. Take the walk up from Braye to St Annes and find cobbled streets with lots of cosy pubs, restaurants and tracks leading in all directions to the countyside around. The German fortifications are also a fascinating excursion.
Whilst no one would suggest that Cherbourg is as charming as Honfleur or St. Vaast, it does have a lot to offer - particularly the local restaurants and bistros. The harbour is also accessible safely by yachts in all states of weather and tide making it a useful bolt hole should the weather turn for the worse. The tide runs strong across the Cherbourg peninsula so course shaping during the last few hours is critical presenting a useful navigational learning experience for those interested.

How do I book?

Check out the available course dates and then contact us or book online. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact Lou or Jim for more information.
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Could you just pass on my thanks to Lou, for a fantastic and very exciting trip to Honfleur this weekend.
It was a genuine pleasure to be in the company of such a nice bunch of people all who knew way more than me and to end up in probably one of the most beautiful parts of France.
We really had a fantastic weekend on our trip to St. Vaast and learnt lots under the excellent guidance from skipper Paul. As always the destination, food, equipment and tutoring was top notch and we are looking forward to booking up with you next year.
A fabulous weekend to St Vaast with Jim skippering and 4 other crew members I hadn't met before. We all soon gelled, helped by Jim's ability to put everyone at their ease and make the boat feel like a second home as much as a training vessel. There was a mix of abilities on board which worked really well and gave me a chance to skipper the return leg - thanks for that, it's given me a real confidence boost. I'll be back ...
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