Sailing Guide

Manche - English Channel

Manche - English Channel



The English Channel (French: La Manche, "the sleeve") is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the island of Great Britain from northern France.
A number of major islands are situated in the Channel, as the Isle of Wight off the English coast and the British crown dependencies the Channel Islands off the coast of France. The coastline, particularly on the French shore, is deeply indented; the Cotentin Peninsula in France juts out into the Channel, and the Isle of Wight creates a small parallel channel known as the Solent.


As the English Channel is entered, and the fairway narrows, the rotatory currents of the approach become gradually more and more rectilinear. The rates of the currents in the fairway vary with the width, and are greatest in the narrowest parts.
In the middle of the fairway, between Bill of Portland and Saint Catherine’s Point, on the English coast, and Cap de la Hague and Pointe de Barfleur, on the French coast, currents attain rates up to about 3.5 knots at springs. In the widest parts, currents seldom attain rates  exceeding 2.5 knots at springs.

Although the surface current has a dominant NE and E directional set, it is influenced significantly by the wind, which is variable in direction during all seasons, although W winds predominate.
The prevailing direction of the North Atlantic current is therefore likely to be most in evidence after strong and long continued SW or W winds.

The time of HW changes rapidly along the French coast, and is about 6 hours later at Le Havre than at lle d’Ouessant. The time at which the tide turns usually differs considerably from the time of local HW. The flows, therefore, cannot be described as “flood” and “ebb”, and are usually termed E and W. However, it must be understood that the E current is that which runs up the Channel, from the Atlantic towards Dover Strait, and the W current that which runs down the Channel, from Dover
Strait towards the Atlantic.

The actual directions of the currents are reported to differ considerably from E or W. In the estuaries and rivers, currents are usually called the “incoming” and “outgoing” but may be referred to as flood and ebb. Among the Channel Islands, the times and directions of the flow differ greatly from those in the fairway of the English Channel. Therefore, care is required when approaching the above localities. The tidal flows at locations to the W and NW of Ile d’Ouessant are significantly affected by current due to the prevailing wind.

Extract from NGA / UKHO sailing directions documents

Lulworth Cove - Safe Natural Harbour on the Jurassic Coast.
Manche - English Channel
Manche - English Channel
La Manche  est une branche de l'océan Atlantique qui sépare la Grande-Bretagne du nord de la France. De grandes îles sont situées dans la Manche comme l'île de Wight au large de la côte anglaise  les Îles anglo-normandes au large des côtes de la France.  Le littoral, en particulier sur la rive française, est profondément échancrée comme la péninsule du Cotentin en France qui s'avance dans la Manche . Au nord de l'île de Wight se trouve le canal de Solent. 

Courants et Marées

En entrant dans  la Manche par l'ouest le chenal se rétrécit, les courants rotatifs deviennent progressivement de plus en plus rectiligne. Les taux des courants dans le chenal varient en fonction de la largeur, et sont les plus importants dans les parties les plus étroites.
Dans le milieu de la Manche, entre Portland et la Pointe Ste-Catherine, sur la côte anglaise, et le Cap de la Hague et la pointe de Barfleur, sur la côte française, les courants peuvent atteindre 3,5 noeuds. Dans les parties les plus larges, les courants atteignent rarement des taux supérieurs à 2,5 noeuds.
Bien que le courant de surface a une dominante NE et E ensemble directionnelle, il est fortement influencé par le vent, qui est variable dans le sens durant toutes les saisons, bien que les vents W prédominent.

Les heures de marée changents rapidement le long de la côte française, et est d'environ 6 heures plus tard au Havre qu'à l'île d'Ouessant. Le moment où la marée s'inverse diffère considérablement localement. Les flux, par conséquent, ne peut pas être décrit comme «montant» et «reflux», et sont généralement appelés E et W. Cependant, il faut comprendre que le courant E est celle qui va jusqu'à la Manche, de l'Atlantique vers Douvres , et le courant W ce qui coule  de Douvres  vers l'Atlantique.

Les directions réelles des courants différent considérablement de l'Est ou l'Ouest. Dans les estuaires et les rivières, les courants sont généralement appelé le «entrant» et «sortants», mais peut être appelé contre les montants et le reflux. Parmi les îles Anglo-Normandes, les heures et les directions de l'écoulement diffèrent grandement de ceux dans le chenal de la Manche. Par conséquent, une grande attention est requise lorsque vous approchez les localités ci-dessus. Les courants de marée dans des endroits à l'W et NW de l'île d'Ouessant sont sensiblement affectés par le courant dû au vent dominant.
Share your comments about "Manche - English Channel"


To precisely geolocate this site. Update if necessary.
Sites around Manche - English Channel
Flying distances - Direct line


An amazing armada of Allied troops, British, American, Canadian and more, landed on Normandy's beaches on 6th June 1944 to begin the liberation of Europe from years of Nazi occupation. The planners of this crucial event for European freedom codenamed it D-Day.
6 Jun 19

The Scilly Isles - Start Point

The water separating the coast of England from that of France is known in the United Kingdom as the English Channel, and in France as La Manche.The climate of the English Channel is controlled to a large extent by the series of cyclonic disturbances that usually move toward the E ...
5 May 12

Start Point - Selsey Bill

From Start Point to the Bill of Portland, 50 miles NE, the coast curves inward in a broad sweep, the N portion of which is Lyme Bay. Between the Bill of Portland and Saint Catherine’s Point, at the S end of the Isle of Wight, the coast is divided into two bays by the Isle of Purbeck.
The ...
3 Jun 12

Selsey Bill - North Foreland

Shipping lanes in the area are among the busiest in the world and for the safety of navigation Traffic Separation Schemes have been introduced to alleviate maritime casualties.
The United Kingdom Department of Transport view is that if a vessel, other than one less than 20m in ...
5 May 12

Bretagne Nord

La navigation  en Bretagne Nord exige l'attention car les courants de marée y sont généralement importants:- vers l'Est à marée montante,
- vers l'Ouest à marée descendanteTermes liés à la maréeAmplitude: Différence entre la hauteur d'une pleine mer ...
21 Jul 12

Pas de Calais - Dover Straight

Dover Strait , 18 miles wide at its narrowest part, separates the SE coast of England from the N coast of France. This stretch of water contains a number of dangerous banks, which are composed of coarse sand and broken shells. These shoal banks, which are comparatively narrow, extend ...
22 Jan 12

Ouest Cotentin

The W coast of the Cotentin Peninsula is one of the most inhospitable coasts of France. There are few prominent objects, and it is bordered by dangers which join with those of Jersey, the Iles Chausey, and Plateau des Minquiers. Fog is frequent and the tidal currents are strong.
This ...
20 May 12


Customs and Immigration 
Masters of all vessels arriving in Guernsey must complete (immediately upon arrival, before any crew member goes ashore), the Customs and Immigration declaration ...
7 Oct 15


Type here the sea or coast description.
21 Jan 08


Alderney is similar to the other Channel Islands in having sheer cliffs broken by stretches of sandy beach and dunes. The island is surrounded by rocks, which have caused hundreds of wrecks. There are treacherous tidal streams on either side of the island: the Swingebetween ...
8 Oct 15

Archipel Chausey

The archipelago of Chausey groups 365 islets at low tide and 52 at high tide, the large island is located 17 km from Granville.
 On the Big Island, you will find a hotel, lodgings, beautiful white sand beaches, a chapel built in 1840 and a fishing village.
20 May 10

Port de Querqueville

Nombreux mouillage dans le port et dans la baie gérés par une Association des Pêcheurs Usagers.
7 May 12

Cherbourg Port Chantereyne

The port of Cherbourg is both a naval and a commercial port. It is an important port of call for passenger vessels in the transatlantic service. The outer roadstead provides a deep and well-sheltered anchorage. There are also extensive facilities for fishing vessels and pleasure craft.The ...
7 May 12

Port des Flamands

Port fermé par deux digues formant une passe de 50 mètres de large. La digue occidentale de fermeture de 320 mètres qui se termine par un musoir de 10 mètres de diamètre, prolonge l'enrochement du terre-plein des Mielles. La digue orientale de 200 mètres et son musoir de ...
7 May 12

Port du Becquet

Le Becquet, situated 1 mile E of Cherbourg, is a small drying harbor. It is used by local fishing vessels and pleasure craft. A lighted range indicates the approach. Buoys (special) are moored about 0.4 mile and 2.3 miles N of this harbor.
Le Grunes de Bretteville, a group of rocky ...
7 May 12

Port du Hâble

Jamais à sec, les marins considéraient jadis ce port comme le meilleur mouillage du Cotentin. Le port a conservé son nom norois de Hâble. Dans le passé, il fut un port important des Gaulois et des Romains qui commerçaient avec l'Angleterre car bien desservi par deux voies ...
6 May 12

Port du Cap Lévi

Port du Cap Levi, a small drying harbor, lies 0.5 mile S of the light. It is used by local fishing boats and yachts.
An area of rocky shoals extends up to about 2 miles N of Cap Levi and is marked by a lighted buoy. This area is steep-to and the sea breaks on it in rough weather. ...
7 May 12

Anse de la Mondrée

Grande anse de sable à l'Est du cap Lévi.
A l'ouest se trouve le port d'échouage Pignot.
6 May 12

Port Racine

Abrité en bordure de la magnifique et légendaire Anse St Martin, le Port Racine tient son nom d'un corsaire du 18ème siècle.
Ses dimensions en font le plus petit port de France. Ici, point de place pour un ponton. Seules quelques barques de pêcheurs sont amarrées traditionnellement ...
18 Dec 07

Cap de la Hague

Cap de la Hague, a low point fronted by drying rocks, is located 3.2 miles N of Nez de Jobourg . Dangers extend up to about 0.8 mile seaward on the N side and about 1.5 miles on the W side of the cape. A signal station, consisting of a white tower and a dwelling, stands on the N extremity.
The ...
7 May 12

Phare de Goury

Le phare de la Hague, ou phare de Goury, s'élève à 800 mètres au large du cap de la Hague  (Manche), sur le rocher dit « le Gros du Raz ». Il signale le « Raz Blanchard », l'un des courants les plus forts d'Europe, et le passage de la Déroute entre ...
7 May 12

Anse de Vauville

Longue plage de 6nm offrant un vaste mouillage de beau temps.
6 May 12
Local Area

NE Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions; with a total area of about 106.4 million square kilometres (41.1 million square miles), it covers approximately one-fifth of the Earth's surface.
The Atlantic Ocean has irregular coasts indented by numerous ...
31 Jul 11

Bristol Channel

The Bristol Channel (Welsh: Môr Hafren, meaning 'Severn Sea') is a major inlet in the island of Great Britain, separating South Wales fromDevon and Somerset in South West England.
8 Oct 15


The NW coast of Brittany, which comprises the NW part of France, is encumbered with dangers. Ile d’Ouessant, in the N part, lies 10 miles offshore with numerous islands and dangers extending SE between it and the mainland. Chaussee de Sein, in the S part, is a dangerous reef ...
9 May 12

Golfe de Gascogne

The Bay of Biscay (name coming from the Castillan), called Golfe de Gascogne by the French, is entered between Ile d’Ouessant and Cabo Ortegal, 305 miles SW. The bay is bounded on its E side by the W coast of France and on its S side by the N coast of Spain. It is generally clear ...
26 Jul 11

Irish sea

1 Jan 70


Grey granite tower. Character:Fl 5's
20 Feb 10
During your navigation, remember to update the data. If a harbor, marina or anchorage is missing, create it. Thank you for all boaters.