10th May 2013.
At last! The day has arrived! We are finally ready and no turning back. Our good friends Phil & Maggie Dobby transport us to Derby station where we meet up with Paul Williams, who is accompanying us for the first part of the sail.
The train is two carriages short so we practice the game of sardines down to Totnes where Jon Salmon meets us and takes us to Kingsbridge, pausing only at Sainsbury’s en route for a mammoth shop and for John to finish commissioning the new air system at the nearby NHS manufacturing site where he has been working. (Just in time then….).
We load up Sundart using Nigel’s tender Arwen, then repair to Jon & Alison’s for Thai curry to Alison’s usual excellent standard. Thanks heavens for friends today!
The next day (Saturday) dawns bright & very breezy. The weather forecast is for increasing winds around force 5 to 6 from the west (which is where we need to go so exactly what we don’t want) then getting worse over the next few days – what a start! We decide to try sailing into Start Bay (outside Dartmouth) and see if we want to go on to Salcombe which is the next port to the west.
Two co-owners of our boat, Nigel and Phil, come to see us off in Nigel’s new boat Freia. Nigel has inexplicably changed from sailing all his life to a gentleman’s cruiser – it is very smart it has to be said.
We water up then set our storm jib and well reefed down mainsail as the wind is getting up. Jon takes a photo from the shore – we wave bravely!
Out in Start Bay we decide the conditions are tolerable so we press on.
We pass two boat loads of sea anglers bouncing around over the Skerries Bank ( a well know fishing spot) – each to their own sport. We round Start Point about 2 miles off (as the seas are notoriously rough there in wind over tide conditions then tack back toward the land. We have a spring tide so the tide carries rapidly west . As we near land at Prawle Point we encounter some big waves – Paul reckons they are over 3 m high! The wind accelerates around these points so we are glad we were conservative with our sail settings.
After 3 1/2 hours we are glad to reach the sand bar across the entrance to Salcombe. This is a famous navigational feature which inspired a poem by Tennyson and paintings by Stuckey and others. The navigation marks past this feature are surprisingly misleading so as it is low tide we ignore them and creep round the end of the bar and sail up the fairway.
The moorings opposite Salcombe are being bounced around by the incoming wind so we motor a mile up the estuary and try out our new anchor off the Salt Stone where we have cormorants and egrets as company – and a very peaceful place to stay.
The harbour master comes to collect our harbour dues and give us the weather forecast – gales for the next 2 or 3 days so it looks as if we will be here until Tuesday or so. Hey ho! There are always plenty of jobs to do on a boat so no doubt we will not be idle. John phones elder daughter for a recipe of a dish she fed us last weekend and we dine in style off chorizo chicken and pan roasted vegetables. One pan, minimum washing up and a good dinner. Recipe on request!
20.6 miles sailed from Dartmouth to Salcombe (Salt Stone). Wind west F 5/6 occasional gust F7. Anchored off Salt Stone at Salcombe.
We would normally wish you fair winds and good weather but under the circumstances keep dry!
Paul, Yvonne & John