I found three spare days to spend on The Exe last week.
The navigation from the entrance to The Teign to the entrance to The Exe is only six miles; it is the pilotage on The Exe that makes it an “adventure”. The estuary is wide, the main channel is narrow and tortuous – and the mud sticky. The distance from the entrance to Topsham is just over seven miles. Perhaps twin keels and shallow draft vessels take it in their stride but Blue Mistress’ long keel doesn’t allow for careless mistakes.
This was my first visit. All ports and harbours have their local conditions – experience makes them perfectly manageable, inexperience requires extra care.
I spent the night on board and left Teignmouth at 0700. Dawlish stood out in the early morning sun.
At The Exe entrance buoy, I took off the sails and motored. The tide was with me.
The channel here runs for a mile between Exmouth beach and the sandbanks off Dawlish Warren.
The edge of the channel is obvious at this stage of the tide.
Looking back towards Dawlish, there is an inshore passage; suitable for this trimaran perhaps, but I would hesitate to use it.
At the entrance to Exmouth Dock the channel turns sharp to port, creating gentle eddies today but exciting, swirling currents on a falling spring tide.
I picked up a comfortable visitors’ mooring in The Bight well before high water . . .
. . . and enjoyed a peaceful afternoon watching the traffic on the water and working on the boat.
(to be continued)
Images by Bill Whateley
The windvane on Blue Mistress was damaged at the end of last year. A small yacht misjudged leaving the visitors’ pontoon in Dartmouth and ran onto it – “altering the shape” of it. This year I have been watching it closely in different conditions to check there has been no lasting damage. I took these short clips off Teignmouth earlier this month.
The wind was gusting strongly – (note the untidy lines), and I thought I’d record the effect of the gusts on the self-steering gear. In the second clip, the boat is heading higher than I wanted. In the third clip, I have adjusted the windvane to correct direction. A stronger gust then brings the boat up into the wind. In the fourth clip, I have adjusted the sails slightly. This works.
Video clips by Bill Whateley
I have been getting used to new surroundings – new for Blue Mistress that is. No longer the city of Plymouth, but the town of Teignmouth – two ports, different aspects.
We too have wharves . . .
and buildings along the water’s edge . . .
and good pubs.
The entrance is interesting with shifting sandbanks meaning work for the dredger . . .
The sailing is less crowded . . .
Teignmouth is not only a holiday resort but a working port . . .
Vessels negotiate an awkward entrance.
Once in, their presence “alters the shape” of the town.
They continue the long tradition with this as with every other port – looking outwards, trading with other ports, both home, as with Celtic Ambassador, and abroad . . .
I am going to enjoy sailing from here.
(Images by Bill Whateley)
Blue Mistress and I left Plymouth early on Saturday morning.
The wind was favourable but the tide was still ebbing at the Great Mew Stone . . .
. . . and would be against us until Bolt Head, where the tide would turn but the wind would begin to head us. Both wind and sea rose at Start Point and pushed us further out sea before we tacked back towards Dartmouth, arriving just over nine hours after leaving Plymouth.
Overnight in Kingswear, looking across to Dartmouth, then the following morning . . .
. . . with little wind, and joined by my son, we motor-sailed to Teignmouth, an amiable passage, arriving around 1400.
Monday morning, we have a swing mooring – and a fresh start.
(Images by Bill Whateley)
Moving to a new mooring in Teignmouth in the next week or so.
(images by Bill Whateley)
One January morning in Teignmouth,
7 – A brief moment on the passage home
I had plenty of time to reflect on single-handed sailing during the week away. I passed many yachts, some with large sociable crews, more with large racing crews. They are the norm. So what about single-handed? Is it about sailing from A to B with no crew or is it something else – sailing for the sake of it, a little of which can be illustrated on camera but most of which remains in the mind of the sailor? The following records a few moments on the passage back from Dartmouth to Plymouth on that Friday evening.
6 – A small space – a lot possible
How would you spend all day in a space about six feet across from back rest to back rest, and approximately ten foot long with no headroom to stand upright?
5 – A lot of sail, very little wind
On the Monday, I set off early towards Salcombe planning to get to Bolt Head before the tide turned against me. There was no wind so, under motor, a chance to note the effect of the tide and the surface of the sea. Thus . . .
4 – A mooring in Salcombe
Ever curious, I have been asking myself about single-handed sailing and why I enjoy it so much. The fact that I am reflecting on this at all is a clue in itself. I will enlarge on this later.
What brought this on was the image below of a diminutive Blue Mistress moored among a sociable fleet of smart yachts in Salcombe and the acknowledgement that this is not a suitable haunt for the sailor who seeks solitude.