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Over wintering options NW France/Belguim

syvictoria

Active member
Joined
12 Oct 2009
Messages
623
Location
Norwich
Hi. We're at present planing to move from Essex to France/Belgium this month or next, and I can't find much recent/up to date info on here regarding mooring/overwintering options in NW France and/or Belgium. We probably wouldn't be looking to go too far from Calais/Dunkerque (couple of day sails maybe). Can anyone recommend somewhere safe and cheap to leave the boat (sail, LOA 9m, draft 1.4m) for the winter, either ashore or afloat? If we leave with nothing booked in advance, are we likely to find that there's little space available, waiting lists, etc.? We only require something for this winter, as we plan to move on next year.

Also, does anyone have any current experience of trying to cross the channel as a foot passenger? Many of the normal options don't seem to be running at present due to Covid. And goodness only knows how the situation is going to develop in the coming weeks...

TIA!
 

westhinder

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Joined
15 Feb 2003
Messages
1,888
Location
Belgium
For Belgium the obvious choice is Nieuwpoort, not only the closest harbour to the Belgian/French border, but also by far the largest yachting centre in the country with around 2000 boats and all the services you will need.
Overwintering is possible both in the water and on the hard. If you stay in, be aware that the harbour is dredged every winter, so your boat will have to be moved as the dredger moves around. Pontoons are managed by the three clubs, their prices are very close to one another, so are their services. They will move your boat for you if you make arrangements.
If you want to come out over winter, the three clubs have ample hard standing, and in addition there are three or four yards that also provide places.
I think you will find the prices very moderate compared with U.K. prices, even more so if you are used to Solent prices.
Dunkirk also has all the services you need, but I would never leave my boat there. The big steel works on the beach spews dust and pollution and the wind deposits it all nicely on the yacht harbour. After a week your boat is grey, I can’t bear thinking about what it will look like after a winter.
Feel free to pm me if you have more detailed questions.
 

Koeketiene

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24 Sep 2003
Messages
15,984
Location
Brittany
1. Can second westhinder's recommendation.
Nieuwpoort would be may choice to lay up for winter (on the hard).
Only have personal experience of the Air Force Yacht Club.

Yacht Club WSKLuM vzw | NIEUWPOORT BELGIUM

If I were to keep the boat afloat, I would keep the boat in the Mercator Marina in Ostend.
Very sheltered and more shops/amenities.

Mercator Marina

2. Know from personal experience that at the moment neither DFDS nor P&O take foot passengers at the moment due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation.
 

syvictoria

Active member
Joined
12 Oct 2009
Messages
623
Location
Norwich
Thanks very much for the replies to date!

What about (in the other direction) Saint-Valery-sur Somme, or is space likely to be an issue there with it being that much smaller?
 

Koeketiene

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Joined
24 Sep 2003
Messages
15,984
Location
Brittany
Thanks very much for the replies to date!

What about (in the other direction) Saint-Valery-sur Somme, or is space likely to be an issue there with it being that much smaller?
I am sure a space can/will be found over winter.
It's been a while since I last stopped there (15 years), but I don't recall there being much in the way of possibilities to lay up on the hard.
Things may have changed in the mean time.

Accessibility is an issue. HW +/- 2 hrs according to their website.

Port de Saint Valery sur Somme

If access is not an issue for you, Gravelines might also be an option.

Port de Plaisance de Gravelines « Port de plaisance Gravelines

And just within your travel range (1 or 2 daysails from Calais) there is Dieppe.

Leisure boating - Port de Dieppe - Ports de Normandie
 

syvictoria

Active member
Joined
12 Oct 2009
Messages
623
Location
Norwich
Thanks again for further reply. Gravelines is appealing, but we have no experience of taking the mud! We have a long keel and so I don't imagine it's much of a problem in reality, especially as we don't anticipate spending very much time (certainly weeks not months) on board throughout the winter?

In fact, having just read the pilot guide again, I see now that up to 1.5m draft should float for the most part...
 

Wiltshire

New member
Joined
28 Jun 2018
Messages
11
Another recommendation for Nieuwpoort from me. We moved our boat over last year due to work commitments bringing us over here. There are all the facilities you will need. We have found the marina/club staff to be friendly and helpful and you will be pleasantly surprised by the prices. The vast majority of boats seem to come out of the water for winter (including ours). As mentioned above there is extensive dredging in winter so whilst you can leave the boat in the water it will mean moving around quite a bit. I did the P&O Calais to Dover as a foot passenger last year once. You definitely cannot travel Dunkerque to Dover without a car.

Nieuwpoort has a pleasant little "old" town. The seafront is very much a seaside resort with lots of apartments etc. This does mean you can rent a place for a very reasonable price if staying in the off season to do maintenance or check the boat out. Ostend is a significantly bigger town and accordingly has more to it. Mercator marina is locked and right in the middle of town next to the railway station.

As Westhinder notes the steel works at Dunkerque are pretty off-putting in terms of keeping a boat there which is a shame as it's mot a bad little town. I.m not sure I would want to spend too much time breathing in whatever belches out of the works though....sometimes bright orange!
 

Gwylan

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Joined
31 May 2007
Messages
3,114
Location
Moved ashore
Breskens, up itself, Terneuzen great little town and good value, or KLYC at Antwerp not a bank breaker.

We wintered at Terneuzen, the sea in the lock froze that year. A winter at Antwerp where the club at Antwerp is altogether pleasant.

But be prepared for challenges if you want to do anything with antifoul.
 

westhinder

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Joined
15 Feb 2003
Messages
1,888
Location
Belgium
But be prepared for challenges if you want to do anything with antifoul.
What exactly do you mean? I have been doing my own antifouling for over 20 years, as does almost everybody else without a problem. A friend of mine was challenged after he dry-sanded his antifoul indoors without precaution, but that is the only incident I know of.
 

Frogmogman

Active member
Joined
26 Aug 2012
Messages
535
I'm confused.

The last time I checked, the bit of France up by Belgium was NE France.
 
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