Reflections of a Reeds editor

As we enter 2020 and a new decade the team at Reeds is working to encompass the changes that are happening to the familiar infrastructure on which we all rely.

In the leisure boating environment, the emphasis continues to move toward motor boats, the sales of which far exceed the sailing equivalents. Sailing yachts are generally larger and the generation of boat-owning family sailors from the boom years of the 70s, 80s and 90s have given way to a more charter orientated market.

To this end we are seeing renewed investment in marinas and harbour facilities with new, longer pontoons and better access. Along the south coast the regeneration of Dover Western Docks is approaching fruition; Brighton has invested in facilities and access; both Lymington and Beaulieu have embarked on re-modelling of the pontoons for visitors. Investment is growing in Ireland and West Coast Islands of Scotland with ever-growing visitor numbers. To the east, Whitby and the Wash ports are renewing facilities too. The harbour entries reflect these.

Reeds Nautical Almanac 2020

The tapestry continues to change. The expansion of offshore wind farms continues apace as installation costs fall. This is married by a reduction in the older oil and gas platforms which are becoming obsolete. We have yet to see a ‘green’ revolution in the marine leisure sector and reliance on diesel engines and petrol outboards is legion. The changes in car production have yet to be reflected afloat, but given the sparsity of charging points at sea, sail is likely to regain prominence. We cannot ignore the increasing regulation and pressure on domestic facilities and the unknown complications of sailing to Europe – so simple for so long.

Increasing reliance on digital electronic equipment results in the reduction of physical navigation marks and aids. Chart plotters, tablets and phones have relieved the mathematically challenged of the tedious chore of tidal calculations. Interestingly this shift has also reduced the awareness of tides, tidal streams and how to use them to advantage. Time and tide wait for no man, but the charter market runs to the clock by the day and hour. The weather is more accurately forecast than ever before yet becomes increasingly unpredictable. We cannot match the full range of information available but provide the essential ‘manual’ backup on which the hardy may rely when all else fails.

The challenges of setting forth to sea in small craft have in reality altered little. The perception of these and the associated hazards and dangers has however dropped. The passage information has been extensively reviewed and condensed at the start of each area to make it more easily accessible. Reliance on digital data has dulled the skills and perception – as it has on the motorway. Sailors are often removed from the environment protected by wheelhouses, pilot houses and sophisticated clothing. Underpinning this is belief in the infallibility of the emergency services – who may have to risk their own lives. We provide concise safety advice and aide-memoires for all eventualities.

The Almanac reflects all these facets and many more. The physical alterations to chartlets are relatively straightforward to capture with the help from Reeds’ unique network of agents, harbour masters and marinas. The detail is included for the professional operator of small craft. It is more difficult to capture the ever-increasing data available and distil the essence on which the less experienced and more technically dependent may have to rely at short notice but that is, after all, what we at Reeds are known for.

The Reeds Nautical Almanac 2020 is available now in both print and ebook. You can save 10% on Bloomsbury.com. If you buy the print edition you will also be able to buy the ebook for half price. To get your Almanac annually for only £32.50, you can also join our exclusive subscriber programme – click here for more information. The Almanac is updated monthly between January and June – download the latest updates here.

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