“Don't be intimidated by what you don't know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else”

Nr 31. Mist and Tides

When it comes to wintersailing, people ask us if it isn’t uncomfortable: sailing along the east coast of Great-Britain. They think coldness and rain may affect us during sailing here. Well, that’s the least of our worries. Because we have a tent around a boat, rain doesn’t bother us and the temperatures have no real effect on us, we have heaters inside the boat and when sailing we dress well.

We also carefully chose our days of sailing in December, because sometimes the wind is strong and that can be dangerous in the North Sea. So far, we were lucky and have had beautiful sailing days with sun and good wind.

But the 2 things that we have to be aware of when sailing here in December are the tides and fog.

The Tides

Along the east coast of Scotland the tides can make a difference of 3 meters of water! If your sailboat is situated in the harbor at a floating pontoon, you are okay, because the jetty rises and drops along with the 3 meters (every six hours). So you even don’t notice rising 3 meters when you are inside your boat!

But when you have to lay along the quays in the harbor, it’s a different story. You have to have long lines from your boat to the quay, at least 4 to 5 meters, so you don’t ‘hang’ your boat on the quay when water starts dropping the 3 meters. It’s not our favorite place in the harbor, and we try to avoid ending up there, because the fenders at the side of the boat really get scratched along the walls filled with shells and algae.

And some harbors dry up during the tides! There are not that deep (sometimes 2,50  meters in high tide). You see below a picture of the lovely harbor of Anstruther, an authentic fisher harbor. But it dries. This was the only harbor we could stop on a long distance sailing trip, because the entrance of this harbor was wide enough for our 8 meter wide catamaran. We only stayed there for 24 hours, so that meant 2 times the boat stood on her keels in the soft mud! Also not our favorite hobby, but this time it was ok,  not much to worry about.

Fog When we left Anstruther, it was a sunny day, 8 degrees in December and we enjoyed for 5 hours the sunshine, until the last half hour all of a sudden a dense fog started to appear. Just as we wanted to sail under 3 bridges and enter the busy harbor of Edinburg (Port Edgar) with low tide and a breakwater quay at the entrance of the harbor…. In the movie I made below, you can see how we sailed under the first bridge, called Forth Bridge. The sight soon dropped from 100 meters to 50  meters, you could not even see the end of the bridge standing on land or even see the next bridge. It was a bit scary, because you also can’t see other small boats sailing towards you and also things that may lay in the water like nets or pieces of wood. So we put our radar on, anything that would rise above waterlevel will be spotted by the radar. And we had our lights on to warn other boats that we were approaching. Luckily Gilles had planned the route in autopilot, to make sure we would pass the bridges in the middle at their highest span and also pass the breakwater quay sailing into the harbor. So we had our autopilot activated,  stood outside on the ship, brought our speed down to 3 knots and slowly entered the harbor. We safely made it to our floating pontoon. It was an exciting end of the last sail for the coming next 2 weeks, because we will be spending Christmas and New Years Eve celebrating in Edinburgh!