The Exe – 5/6

So . . . Topsham to Teignmouth. It’s 1130 here. I’ve promised to be home by the middle of the afternoon; but I’m enthralled by what I am seeing . . .

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The sea lies down there. Between here and there the channel goes over to the left bank and then back to the right bank before a stretch down the middle and then over to the right and back again to the narrow entrance. Straight on is not an option.

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Lympstone on the left bank.

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‘The price of neglect’ again. Someone loved her once. I wonder what happened.

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In the water ski area a young women comes off her skis and skims across the water towards ‘Blue Mistress’. I ask if she’s ok, she smiles and says yes. but she is rubbing her nose. The ski boat picks her up quickly and they go back to the Exewake barge.

They are laying the tables for lunch on The River Exe Cafe.

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The bird building his nest just forward of ‘Bloodhound’s’ wheelhouse makes me smile -(crow’s nest?)

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Round the tip of Dawlish Warren where we have walked so often.

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A young family enjoying the beach dressed in fleeces.

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I reach the entrance buoy. It is colder now, the wind has got up.  I climb into my heavy weather gear to keep warm, and set the sails for home.

(to be continued)

Images by Bill Whateley

 

 

 

The Exe – 4/6

The day begins calm and cloudy. I awake refreshed. There is no hurry, the tide will not suit until 1030 at least. There’s an egg for breakfast, peanut butter on a biscuit and coffee.

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During the night, I reflected on yesterday’s comments about attitude. “The Captains” thought I should stay away from that stuff (“You’ve no more sense than you were born with”), but nothing we ever do occurs in a vacuum. My little research trip is no exception. There are always other things going on and they will flourish whether we like them or not. If we don’t speak up, what then?

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I am determined to take the boat to Topsham before heading for home – I’ve promised to be back in Teignmouth in time to greet my in-laws. The channel gets narrower and shallower further up and I am torn between needing to get away early and avoiding going aground. I start the engine and drop the mooring at 1030.

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Cloudy or not, the morning is stunning. The channel winds abruptly. The outer edge of the curve is the deeper part.

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I have around 3 metres at the turn, which descends to 2 metres a little further on.

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and so I reach Topsham . . . by water, thinking of ‘Ceres’ – (previous post).

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The original plan had been to moor here at Trout’s Boatyard for the night. That would have been a totally different experience – very fine, but I would have missed everything I saw this morning.

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This is as high as we go. I make a tight turn to enjoy this sight . . .

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I knew she was there from an earlier visit on foot; just a hint of what it must have been like in ‘Ceres” time . . .

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(to be continued)

Images by Bill Whateley

 

The Exe – 2/6

The night was cold. At 0400, I put on a sweater. It was too heavy – at 0500 I woke in a sweat. Perhaps that’s why it’s called a sweater.

The day began with a light breeze down the estuary and a fine pale sky. The incoming tide would not be high enough until 1030 at least. I watched it slowly cover the sandbank opposite – a solitary seal enjoying the sun.

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This is a day for a short passage under motor – the wind is against me and I will have to follow the channel carefully. The rising tide covers all hazards. The buoyage is good and easy to follow – red can buoys even-numbered, green conical buoys odd-numbered; I have read the pilot books and know what to expect. In the event, the up-to-date chart, depth sounder and binoculars prove essential.

Cockwood, on the west bank, soon appears. (Two good pubs here, The Anchor and The Ship)

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The Exewake water skiers have a base in the middle of the estuary

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and the River Exe Cafe is moored off Starcross.

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Powderham Castle peers through the trees

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and, all at once, the price of neglect strikes home.

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The channel winds close to Starcross Yacht Club, reputed to be one of the oldest sailing clubs in the British Isles,  and then crosses the estuary towards the east bank,

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finally wending west again. The long bridge is part of a new cycle path. We have cycled it several times, having often, over the past thirty years, walked along the wall. Seeing it from the water is a first for me.

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The passage takes about an hour. I watch the depth reading constantly, the shallowest point was about 3 metres; I need at least 1.5 metres, so no worries there. I pick up a mooring at Turf Lock; judging by the amount of mud on it, I suspect it has not been used since last year.

The lock is the entrance to Exeter Ship Canal, and the Turf Hotel a long-time favourite.

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In the middle of the day, the wind changes and rises . . .

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it becomes distinctly colder, and, as the tide drops, I settle down to work.

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 (to be continued)

Images by Bill Whateley

 

 

 

 

 

The Exe – 1/6

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.

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At The Exe entrance buoy, I took off the sails and motored. The tide was with me.

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The channel here runs for a mile between Exmouth beach and the sandbanks off Dawlish Warren.

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The edge of the channel is obvious at this stage of the tide.

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Looking back towards Dawlish, there is an inshore passage; suitable for this trimaran perhaps, but I would hesitate to use it.

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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.

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I picked up a comfortable visitors’ mooring in The Bight well before high water . . .

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. . . and enjoyed a peaceful afternoon watching the traffic on the water and working on the boat.

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(to be continued)

Images by Bill Whateley