Friday, 7 December 2012 9:08 AM
While you might think of places like the Caribbean and the Mediterranean when searching for your next yachting break, don't overlook everything that the UK offers. Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, is one highlight of choosing to sail on British waters.
The seaport town is accessible from Portsmouth via the Solent, the body of water that separates the Isle of Wight from mainland England. There are many reasons why you should include Cowes on your itinerary, with some of the best included in our guide below.
Book a yacht charter that sets sail from Portsmouth, and you can look forward to a bustling nightlife once you drop anchor off the coast of Cowes. This is especially the case if you choose to come here in August, when Cowes Week is held.
This famous regatta sees hundreds of people flock to the isle, so you can guarantee the pubs and bars will be packed with both participants and spectators. A fantastic way to kick off your evening after a lovely day spent sailing is to enjoy a meal at one of its restaurants. There is Capri, an Italian eatery, as well as Cafe Mozart, The Bamboo Garden and Bijoux, which serves mouth-watering seafood.
Of course, the coastal position of Cowes means sampling its seafood is a must, and filling up on a huge bowl of it with some pasta will no doubt set you up for the night ahead.
As mentioned, Cowes Week is the biggest event on the town's calendar, which you will already know if you are a sailing enthusiast. It's well worth booking tables at restaurants well in advance if you plan to coincide your getaway with this famous regatta.
In 2012 it was held between August 11th and 18th, and runs around the same time each year, so keep this in mind when booking your holiday. Nearly 8,000 individuals and 1,000 yachts take part in this event, and you will see everyone from relative beginners to Olympic champions tackling the Solent's waves.
There is plenty to see and do during Cowes Week that isn't just centred on sailing, including a fireworks display and free entertainment on the Parade bandstand. The atmosphere on the island during this period is electric, and will certainly be the highlight of your getaway.
The sailing conditions
Of course, sailing is one of the most popular reasons people visit Cowes, and the Solent proves there is no need to jet overseas in order to have fun on the water. It stretches for 30 miles and is 4 miles wide, so there is plenty of room for you to show off your skills and try your hand at different challenges.
Summer is the best time to come if you want to be relatively warm, with the typical temperature standing at 18 degrees C. The south-westerly prevailing winds range from 5 to 25 knots but are prone to suddenly changing and can be tricky, which is why if you decide to book a yacht charter here you will need to have some experience.
Of course, if you decide to learn to sail in this corner of the UK, you will have experts on hand to show you the basics and accompany you on your yachting adventure.
The tourist attractions
Cowes may be small, but there is plenty to see and do if you moor up here for a few hours and explore some of its tourist attractions. If you have holiday cash to splash, a stroll along its pedestrianised high street will certainly prove tempting. You will find lots of stores selling accessories for yachtsmen and women, as well as independent fashion boutiques, delis and places to buy gifts for loved ones back home.
Northwood House and Park makes for a lovely walk, especially with 26 acres of grounds to explore. If you have kids in tow, they will enjoy the play area, while there are also putting and bowling greens.
The mansion itself was constructed in 1837 in a classical style, so take the time to step inside, as its interior is just as impressive as the outside. There is also St Mary's Church, which is located at the end of the park and features a beautiful clock tower.