Coastal cruising in a yacht requires a lot of attention on the part of her crew, and especially so for a solo yachtsman. He has to work his boat, navigate, while keeping a lookout for hazards which may be anything from a small crab pot buoy to a high speed motor yacht. He has to take into account coastal features that could endanger his yacht - the most hazardous perhaps being a headland around which run fast-moving water passing over shallows. Crossing a shipping lane can be a very dangerous business because of the high speed of modern ships. Ships’ watch officers monitoring radar may not observe the position and course of a small yacht because of the diminutive target.
Beachy Head is a notoriously demanding headland for yachtsmen. When the wind blows strongly from the south west and the ebb runs against it, overfalls can make the going very uncomfortable.
Dungeness can be equally demanding, but if the wind is light, the sea can be smooth; however, when the wind is light, progress around the headland can be very slow. Indeed, one can be sailing through the water while losing ground. Under that circumstance it is better to anchor in shallow water either side of the headland to wait for a helping hand from the ebb or the flood tide, as appropriate.
A most terrifying hazard is a large ship like the ‘Balmoral’ pictured above at Dover Harbour. At night she will display many lights, but identifying those that matter, i.e., the masthead lights and the port and starboard lights, is imperative for understanding her movements, so that evasive action can be taken if necessary.
When you arrive at your destination you may be fortunate to come across a famous vessel anchored or moored there; such was the case with ‘Jolie Brise’ when I arrived at Falmouth.
Docking of the ‘Balmoral’ Cruise Ship at Dover
Balmoral Cruise Ship