Coastal camping: the pleasure of sailing, quite simply!
You have been dreaming about leaving on a boat and experiencing an epic adventure with friends or family, for years ... Well coastal raids are made for you. With a basic sport catamaran, or a machine specially built for raids, you will have a great time! Here are the instructions, for a successful holiday...
Raid - Instructions for use
When leaving for a raid, you must understand that you are going to be living in the wild, far from any taps or water sources, far from any shops and in almost complete independence, but without the reserves that the big cruising catamarans offer. This demands excellent organisation, unless you want to see the atmosphere aboard deteriorate rapidly... Speaking of atmosphere, you must also bear in mind that the members of your crew (and those on the boats you will probably be leaving with) have to get on with each other and accept the idea of living as a self-sufficient community for these few days.
With this prerequisite understood, you are going to sail during the day on a sea which is always blue (we hope so, for you), perhaps even turquoise, always more beautiful, amongst fabulous scenery... Scenery from your dreams will roll by, from arid or lush vegetation-covered mountains to shepherds' camps perched up high, typical villages, perhaps some archaeological ruins, or even a lagoon, and deep blue nightfalls, etc... If you are lucky, you may even see some dolphins. No need to continue, you are already under the spell of this type of sailing.
And then there is the bivouac. A beach or a little creek to yourselves somewhere will become your shelter for the night. Be careful, depending on the legislation in the country you are visiting, you will be allowed to camp on the beach between sunset and sunrise, or you will have to remain aboard your boat for the night. Whatever happens, leave the place even cleaner than you found it. No trace of camp fires or rubbish. Think about those coming after you. As a general rule, before settling in, have a walk round the area and talk to any inhabitants you may meet. This will give you precious information about your bivouac spot and the risks you run, and often allow you to meet some nice people.
For a successful raid, even more so than for any other cruise, it is essential to have prepared your navigation meticulously. There is actually nothing worse than having miscalculated the length of a stage and finding yourself aboard with the children freezing cold, and disapproving looks from their mother. And I won't mention a late arrival in a tricky creek, not sure where you can land... You must therefore plan for short sails and alternative solutions in the case of headwinds or crew fatigue. This will call for meticulous preparation of your navigation and a good knowledge of each stage, to be able to alter your programme according to conditions. In certain places, you can find a welcoming, protected beach easily; sometimes you will have to cover several miles before finding a precarious shelter...
Some advice: enjoy every minute, as these are moments which are all too rare, and some more advice: take as little as possible, you will need virtually nothing.
But what is coastal camping?
As its name indicates, coastal camping is an activity in which you sail along the coast in your little multihull (it works with a monohull too, but it’s not as nice…). As its accommodation is often reduced to the simplest form, the only solution when you stop is to pitch a tent, either on the beach or on the boat’s trampoline. This way of sailing has (very) many advantages: you can change your cruising area at will, as these boats are easily transportable, they are not expensive, either to buy or maintain, and cruises are quite frankly economical - no marinas and no excessive provisioning... In short, a leisure sailor’s delight!
Where and when to go?
The formula’s advantage is that no destination is excluded… With the boat on the trailer, you can go anywhere you want to, from your ‘home port’. Even the other side of the sea, if you organise your boat’s transfer early enough. Once at your destination, all you have to do is leave the car and the trailer in a car park (if it has a guardian, so much the better for finding your trailer again), and the adventures are yours for the taking. .
Amongst the favourite destinations of coastal raid lovers, we find Corsica, Brittany (with the superb Golfe du Morbihan), as well as Scandinavia, Scotland and its canal, the Adriatic and its anchorages, which are as numerous as they are deserted… Finally, the only limit of the formula is your imagination. The cruising period is much easier to define: coastal raids demand real commitment from the crew. With little or no interior living space, coastal camping multihulls are more tiring and offer comfort and protection which is only relative. Unless you are looking for the ultimate excitement of an extreme raid, you would be well advised to choose the summer period to enjoy your cruise, and especially your anchorages, to the full.
What boat for what type of raid?
You would not choose the same boat to go on holiday with the family in Corsica as for a competition raid… In the family of raid or coastal camping multihulls, we find barely-modified sport catamarans, sport trimarans, with or without a small cabin, and cats and trimarans with comfortable liveability for a small family, allowing you to avoid the tent on the beach or the trampoline. All these boats have in common the fact that they can be dismantled and are easily transportable, to take you to discover the playground of your choice.
The sport catamarans
From the Hobie 16 to the latest model F18, sport catamarans can easily be adapted to raids. Over the last 20 years or more, Hobie Cat Aventures has welcomed more than 5,000 raiders, from Sierra Leone to the Seychelles, via Thailand or Turkey, on the good old Hobie 16 or 18…
For a successful raid on a sport catamaran, it is best to have a machine without daggerboards, and one which is not too powerful. It will be easier to handle, and thus more comfortable for the crew. The ideal is to have a reef fitted so you can reduce the sail area. This is not always possible, unless you do away with the hook and replace it with a classic halyard. In terms of safety, it is better. As for the rest, some watertight containers fixed with elastics to the trampoline will be perfectly adequate for setting off to discover the world… Note that a few ‘hot heads’ have crossed oceans on sport catamarans (the craziest of which has to be our friend Alessandro di Benedetto who crossed the Pacific singlehanded on a 20-foot sport catamaran). Which definitely proves that with a sport cat, you can enjoy some good cruising!
Amongst the sport cats endorsed by our readers for a successful raid, we find the hard-wearing Hobie 16, the Nacra 570 (with no daggerboards and no boom – it is really ‘easy’), the Mystère 5.0, KL Warp and the Dart 18… In fact it is often with the boat that is lying in the back of the garage that you will enjoy your best raid. Note that in this family, we find several sport catamarans specially designed for coastal raids. There is the brand-new Hobie Pearl, and, especially, the Aventura 20, which has just been launched. With its wings, its big watertight lockers in each float and its rigid cockpit, it is a perfect boat for raids or coastal camping…
Here is the family of catamarans specially designed for raids or coastal camping, with a minimum of comfort and sufficient waterline length for safety, which will allow you to envisage a few longer passages, and above all, spending a week or more with your family, independently. These catamarans are really nice to sail and lively, whilst remaining reassuring – ideal for sailing as a family. With a space to protect the children when sailing, these boats are perfect for a coastal camping holiday as a family or with friends. The only problem comes from the fact that they take a little bit longer to assemble and dismantle than the ‘little sisters’, the sport catamarans… In this family, we find the Virus V8, as well as, for example, the Aventura 23.5 Raid, the Bicok or again, the Raid 22 or the Twist…
The lightweight trimarans Half-way between the excitement of a sport catamaran and the liveability and comfort of a raid catamaran, there are the trimarans. The Virus Magnum 21, Astus 22.1, Tricat 22 Raid, Tricat 23.5, Multi 23 are machines which are fun to sail and will also take a good load, including a family with all its camping equipment… Easy to dismantle, and transportable on their trailers, these trimarans allow you to envisage multiplying the cruising areas, whilst offering much better comfort than the sport catamarans. The quality/price/fun/comfort aboard and ease of use ratio is unbeatable. Moreover, the success of these trimarans on the market clearly shows the public’s infatuation with this formula. Clever boats for sailors looking for excitement and space!
Coastal camping multihulls with accommodation
Amongst the lightweight, easily transportable raid catamarans and trimarans and the big cruising cats, there are a few clever multihulls which offer the ease of maintenance and handling of the ‘small’ boats, but with real liveability, which would be the envy of many larger monohulls. Those over 20 will remember with affection their first sail on a Corneel 26, a Drop 26 or Stiletto 27… Today we find a few catamarans on the market which meet the needs of those who want above all to enjoy the pleasures of sailing, without having the problems that go with too big a boat. Amongst the catamarans, there is for example the Edel 4xCat 28 or again, the Aventura 28, whilst amongst the trimarans you will easily find something to have fun aboard, with the Triptyque 22, Tricat 25, or again, the Corsair Sprint 750. Boats capable of taking you coastal cruising over a long distance, for a long time, with a good level of comfort. We’re still talking about coastal camping, of course, but at a three star level…