Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Secret Rivers

Set sail for Start Point in a grey damp dawn, pushing past the first of the flood tide at 5 knots on a close reach. We enjoyed the sight of isolated grand houses along the coast, set in rolling green fields that came down to shallow rocky cliffs and backed with steep slopes and deep wooded valleys. Passing savage reefs that stretch offshore, reaching for the keels of passing yachts, we came to the great stone arched chess knight at Prawle Point, and hardening the sheets creamed across the flat water at 7.5 knots to Salcombe, leaving astern the grim rusting wreck on the cliff that reminds one always of the savage sea’s power.

Entering Salcombe with more than a metre of water clear over the Bar all was peace, few boats out, and a friendly welcome from the Harbour master who took our mooring line to Buoy No 23 opposite the Ferry Inn, and charged us nothing for our lunch-long stay. The water taxi took us to the Town Quay, and we ambled through the streets, enjoying Salcombe’s holiday air, and bursts of warm sunshine, until we could sit on the terrace at the Ferry Inn and sip a pint of local ale enjoying the view of Laros sitting nicely to the tide. With its sheltered river, enlivened by rich golden beaches, Salcombe offers all sorts of summer delights to families. The shops have adapted to the flood of moneyed visitors and offer everything one could wish for from fine wines to the latest beach fashion.

Back on board we raised sail on the mooring, and then caught the ebb out of Salcombe and round the coast to Newton Ferrers. En route I was able to disappear below leaving the helm to my mate, and enjoyed a quiet read and snooze. Arriving off the River Yealm, I misjudged the extent of eth submerged rocks off the point, and was shocked to have the depth drop suddenly to 3.5 metres. Mental note to hold out further towards the jagged shark’s fin of the Mewstone in future. The entrance to the Yealm is always surprisingly narrow and, as one feels for a way in between the red port-hand buoys and the jagged rocks, the depth drops until there is just a metre or so under the keel. Following the leading marks, and then turning hard to port for the next red and white mark on the hillside leads one to Misery Point, where the river turns a hidden corner at a shallow patch to reveal the secret reaches and moorings winding up to the pontoon off the ferry steps. Here we rafted to another blue hulled ketch, Wishstream, with lovely lines and fine overhanging counter. The sun came out and flooded the valley with golden light, and after a happy chat with our new neighbours, and a quiet drink we rowed ashore and strolled along the wooded lane to the Ship Inn in Noss Mayo for supper.

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