Sailing to France on a channel crossing is the first step for many sailors on their road to an extended passage. Since sailing to Cherbourg will probably take around 14 hours from Portsmouth, a good 6-8 hours of that is likely to be out of sight of land.
In a later article, I plan to review how a crossing works in reality and how to document a passage plan from Portsmouth to Cherbourg.
Here’s how I approach planning sailing to France and navigating the English Channel, using recent crossings as real examples.
The process for navigating across the channel breaks down into 4 steps
- Determine your departure time (which often depends on when you want to arrive or when you must arrive by)
- Estimating the net tidal set and drift you’ll experience during the crossing
- Applying tide, variation, deviation and leeway to determine your course to steer
- Final course shaping a couple of hours before arrival
Read part 1 of the series where I discuss the factors involved in choosing a suitable departure time.
Summary of recommended resources
You’re going to need access to one or more of these sources to help planning & navigating the English Channel. I cover each of them in the series so have a read first before buying.