The joy of winter sailing

If like me - and 4.4 billion other people - you live in the temperate zone, winter is probably not your prime sailing season. It seems that when autumn rolls around, most sailors turn their attention to land activities. Yet in many places around the world, there is often fun sailing to had even in the depth of winter.

Here are 5 reasons to sail in winter:

Reason # 1

You'll have more of the water to yourselves. This means fewer boats to dodge and more relaxed sailing.

Reason # 2

A corollary to #1, you'll share less of the sea’s bounty with others. The fishing is often better, and you’re more likely to attract wildlife, such as dolphins.

Reason # 3

Winter brings different wind and sea conditions and opportunities to hone your sailing skills in new ways.

Reason #4

Different weather patterns also opens up new anchorages and new things to see. For example, where I sail in South Australia, the winter northerlies open up southern Yorke Peninsula anchorages which are typically not available in summer. Winter also brings migrating whales!

Reason #5

Finally, there is the satisfaction and camaraderie that comes from bucking the trend and doing what few others are doing. Or to quote Shakespeare from Henry V:

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

As a bonus, you’ll really appreciate anew those creature comforts back on land, such as a warm fireplace!

Mid-winter sailing in Gulf St Vincent, South Australia.
And here are my top 5 winter sailing tips:
  • Pick your weather carefully.
  • Stay warm by wearing lots of layers (i.e., more than usual), a hat and gloves.
  • Keep well hydrated and well fed.
  • Have a reliable autopilot, so you can retreat to the comfort of your cabin to escape foul weather.
  • For overnight winter trips, some form of heating is very desirable. (I pack a portable catalytic heater to keep Arriba toasty).
Winter sunsets can be gorgeous.