With the bulk of the British summer behind us, we now find ourselves moving in to colder temperatures. If you’re anything like us, you’ll find yourself relishing the brisker weather – the fresh air and the more full-blooded winds should bring a smile of anticipation to the face of any serious sailor.
Winter sailing can indeed be a thrill, although as you’d expect, there are a couple of extra things to bear in mind to get the most out of the experience and ensure your safety in the process.
Here’s what to watch out for during winter sailing, followed by a couple of reasons to go for it, should you need the encouragement.
The rougher weather isn’t the only reason to take extra care in regard to safety when you’re sailing in the winter months. Coastguard and rescue teams expect fewer boats to be out on the waters, and often operate lighter schedules with reduced manpower.
Here are three precautions you need to take:
Winter sailing means wind, rain and potentially freezing temperatures. Be sure to wear clothing that’s warm and insulated, and also water- and wind-proof.
Don’t forget to bring all the essential safety equipment with you too – items like whistles and flairs can easily be neglected when your priority is strapping yourself in to your fancy Goretex jacket.
Also, if you’re sailing or paddling a small craft, a wetsuit would be a wise idea for cold waters.
As promised, there are some plus sides to sailing in the colder months. Here’s what we love about sailing in the winter.
Due to the long dark nights, winter is actually a great time to rack up some night hours, which could be key for your progress if you’re aiming for a RYA qualification at some point in the future.
Of course, you can count on it being especially cold at sea during the winter – especially the British offshore waters, which could be positively icy.
Although there will be more than a few brave souls taking to the waters at all times of the year at a given sailing club, the fact is that the inland sailing is significantly busier in the summer. There are far fewer casual day renters on the waters in winter, and if you pick the right time you might turn up to a virtually deserted lake.
Choose a weekend with forecasted “challenging” weather, and give yourself the best chance of having a large lake all to yourself to sail on.
There are at least a couple of courses that will benefit you if you’re thinking of hitting the winter waters.
Naturally, the first course we recommend to any aspiring sailor is a general RYA course at the appropriate level. For beginners, that means the RYA Day Skipper course, and for intermediate or advanced seamen, we’d recommend the Coastal Skipper.
In winter time we also suggest that you get on top of your radio skills with a Marine Radio course – after all, it could prove essential in a difficult situation.
Feel free to explore the rest of the courses on offer at the Boating Hub – we’re here to connect you to whichever sailing skillsets you need to gain, and we offer training at locations around the UK and Europe.