June 15, 2010
Tuesday 15th June
Plymouth to Salcombe 18 miles, forecast is for light NE winds up to 10 knots. Made sure I got my full 2 days at Plymouth yacht haven and had the assistant help walk me back out of the berth while pulling my stern around on a rope. My outboard being behind the rudder means I have little steerage until she has good weigh on and I didn’t have enough room to execute the turn with the NE wind blowing me back onto the berth. Its also quite shallow immediately behind the visitors berths and it was low water when I wanted to leave.
1430hrs Departed Plymouth Yacht haven for Salcombe in a light NE breeze and glided slowly down the Cattewater into Plymouth Sound under just Genoa. Hoping to be able to sail the whole way so that I don’t need to get any more fuel at Salcombe. Havnt used much lately and want to keep it that way. Hoist mainsail with reef still in as I head out on the Eastern side of the sound past ‘Rum Bay’. Seems to be a favourite afternoon anchorage for local yachts, providing good shelter from North and East winds, must remember that one. Running downwind in flukey and patchy winds as I pop out of the Eastern breakwater entrance. Nice and sunny with a little cloud and lots of boats out and about in the sound and six warships playing further out.
1550hrs Abeam the Mewstone off the River Yealm entrance and the wind has finally picked up to a nice NE 2-3. A nice steady wind of the land for the next half hour then it went East on the nose and died. Engine on for half an hour and then the wind was back but more ENE and just managing to hold course for my waypoint off Bolt head at the entrance to Salcombe. Wind remains light and flukey up to Bolt Tail and then a fresh breeze off the very high cliffs allows me to claw my way back onto my rhumb line. Tide with me now seas becoming moderate to rough, getting up to 6 knots as the wind lays me over in the bigger gusts. Glad I left the reef in the main now and the wind is giving me enough drive to press through the disturbed water that seems to reside here between Bolt Tail and Bolt Head. 1945hrs passing Bolt Head and turning in for the leading marks at Salcombe which clear the notorious sand bar in the entrance. You need to keep well over to the port and line up the easily distinguished leading marks that will become apparent as you get closer in. I have been here in the dark with no problems and the bar is only rough in strong southerly winds when the tide is ebbing. Sandy Cove is to starboard as you pass the bar and a favourite anchorage in fair weather, although you will still be charged by the harbour masters launches which patrol the whole area inside the bar. I had already dropped sail before the bar and proceeded up to the town moorings. The visitors moorings are immediately off the town pontoon outside of a line with the rubbish skip. Do not come inside of this line as it gets very shallow and dries on spring tides. The tide can swing visiting boats around off the town and not always all at the same time. It is possible that you may touch other yachts on these moorings as the tide turns you. There is a large amount of motor boat traffic here as the water taxis are constantly in and out as well as many speed boats, so expect to be tossed around in the wakes they create.
I prefer to continue a few minutes up the estuary and take the branch to the left into an area known as ‘The Bag’ where there is a popular visitors pontoon mid channel amidst the local moorings. There is no water or electricity here but it is a lovely spot with rolling hills coming down to the shore. I arrive at ‘The Bag’ at 2015hrs and have to raft up outside a larger yacht. I pick the one with the flattest sides that isn’t going to bend my stanchions. It can get very busy here at weekends and you can be rafted 3 deep. Its a beautiful still evening and all you can here is the sheep bleating on the hill sides and the odd fish jumping. Took a bit longer than anticipated to get here but at least I managed to sail most of it leaving me with plenty of fuel to get to Guernsey in a day or two.