The Bailiwick of Guernsey includes a peppering of photogenic islands including Herm, Sark and, further off, Alderney. While these can be accessed by occasional passenger ferries, the more adventurous option is to set sail yourself. Having said that, with Guernsey’s rugged coastline carved with plenty of tranquil bays in which to moor, there’s also plenty to explore closer to home. Saint Peter Port, home to The Duke of Richmond Hotel, is flanked by a lively harbour from which a plethora of boat charters operate. Whether setting out on a skippered yacht or sharpening your own navigation skills, here’s how to enjoy sailing in Guernsey.
What you’ll need
To charter a larger boat that’s longer than 10m, you’ll need an International Certificate of Competence. Otherwise, those new to sailing can learn the necessary ropes on a Day Skipper Course at the Guernsey Yacht Club and—depending on confidence levels—launch into the open seas the following day. After a quicker fix? Dodge the spinnakers and bowlines and hire a motorboat instead. Be sure to pack something warm to wear on your adventure. Even in peak summer, all that fresh, sea air combined with the cool sea spray can get chilly.
Chartering a boat
Guernsey’s fast-shifting tides and powerful currents can prove challenging for inexperienced sailors, but there are plenty of skippered sailing boats to hire on the island. Accompanied charters are a wise option for seasoned sailors unfamiliar with the lie of rocky outcrops—and are a great opportunity to meet some local characters, too. Skipper Buz offers a range of accompanied trips, from a scenic trip to the tranquil shores of Herm to a jolly Bailiwick Pub Cruise.
The annual regatta
A seafaring highlight among Guernsey’s residents is the Rocquaine Regatta in the broad sweep of Rocquaine Bay every summer. It’s a family-friendly event, with water-borne races in which motorboats and small sailing boats compete for local kudos. On land, winkle-picking, wheelbarrow races and apple-bobbing are all traditional ways to enter into the Guernsey spirit.
Guernsey’s best sailing routes
With a prime shoreline that’s ripe for exploration, Guernsey’s best sailing route is, of course, a close navigation of the island. Head north from Saint Peter Port, hugging the shore all the way around. Drop anchor at Cobo Bay, a shock of pale sand that’s flanked by a friendly trio of pub, tearoom and fish and chip bar. Further round, Rocquaine Bay is another popular stop. This picturesque sweep of cerulean waters has beautiful views out to Fort Grey. A little further afield from Guernsey’s shores are the sleepy islands of Sark and Herm, just two to three hours away. Channel Island hopping is something of an initiation for sailors in Guernsey, and ambitious boaters will head all the way out to Alderney. With powerful swells and quixotic tides, it’s a challenging route, but one that’s well-rewarded with a cold pint at Alderney Sailing Club.
Stay at Red Carnation Hotels’ The Duke of Richmond Hotel, whose location in Saint Peter Port offers easy access to Guernsey’s finest sailing facilities.