I was confident that the electronic shores of this sceptred isle would be awash with features evoking the pleasures of cruising the coast of Brittany, evaluations of the latest Global Positioning System kit and instructions on how to get barnacles off your bottom. Wrong: I found just two magazine links, neither of them British, both to sites mainly about boat sales - BoatShow on the Web, based in Canada, and Sail4U, based in Belgium. I subsequently found more interesting stuff elsewhere, but not a lot.
One of the few British sites of general interest is BoatNet. It is basically a catalogue of the products and services of 400 marine companies; it has only a tiny amount of feature material, all apparently springing from the nautical adventures of one family, but an excellent links section. After that, you're pretty well reliant on American sites.
SailNet is another host for lots of commercial sites, and a rather classy one - a sort of showcase for boats and other products. But it includes a monthly column for blue water sailors - how to handle rapidly developing lows, for example - and one of the sites it hosts is that of Sailing magazine. A small amount of editorial material from the printed publication is allowed to leak on to the Web site.
In contrast, connoisseurs of vile Web site design might like to take a look at the California-based YachtNet - complete with flashing (yes, flashing) link to the designer's home page. But don't expect to be detained for long by the decaying material contained in its Intersail Journal.
YachtingNet comes from the editors of the US magazine Yachting. Here, at last, is a vein of decent feature material of general interest, culled from issues of the magazine going back over a period of two years. Naturally, there is a US bias, though it's less pronounced than in the news section.
I was momentarily excited to discover that YachtingNet's guide to yacht chartering covered the Mediterranean, and Europe in general. The moment ended with the discovery that only two charter operations outside the Med are listed, one in Ireland and one in Sweden. For European information, you really do need European sitesn