Crew: Kim Hollamby, Jake Kavanagh and Loris Goring.
From: Darthaven Marina, Kingswear, River Dart, Devon.
To: Plymouth Yacht Haven, Plymouth, Devon.
Port engine start hours: 287.0. Finish hours: 290.5. Hours run: 3.5.
Stbd engine start hours: 286.8. Finish hours: 290.4. Hours run: 3.6.
Log start: 3027.6nm. Log finish: 3075.6. Distance run: 48.0nm.
Navigation log (full commentary follows below)
0730: depart Darthaven. 0745: cleared Western Blackstone. Heading down Start Bay eyeball nav inside Skerries Bank. Wind a good 30-35kn NE. No real lee in bay. Speed 17-18kn. Waves around 2m but nice and long and not many holes.
0815: off Start Point shooting through inside passage. Long swell from overfalls in NW direction cancel out long swell from NE direction! Then NE takes over again as we clear.
0825: off Prawle Point; some lee now.
0835: Salcombe Bar, entering on western side. Speed 7kn.
0850: alongside Normandy Pontoon Salcombe. Interim log reading 3046.0. Port engine: 288.3hr. Stbd engine: 288.1.
1650: underway. Wind 20-25kn NE.
1705: clear of the bar. Speed up to 23kn.
1720: 0.5nm off Bolt Tail. Tuck round to follow coast around Bigbury Bay for for interest’s sake than for the lee.
1725: impromptu photoshoot with a wind surfer doing 23kn-25kn. 1735: off River Erme.
1750: between Yealm Head and Great Mew Stone, using church as an aiming point and heading for R Yealm.
1800: Yealm bar, speed 6kn.
1815: nosing up to Noss Mayo on the first of the ebb. Depth immediately downstream of causeway 1.5m. Don’t venture further!
1825: Yealm bar. Once clear of headland speed 23kn. Back out between Yealm Head and Great Mew Stone.
1835: off Shag Stone.
1840: Plymouth Breakwater eastern entrance. Off the plane.
1850: inside Mountbatten breakwater.
1905: alongside visitor moorings on outside of Plymouth Yacht Haven.
Musing over the almanac and chart the night before, and conversing with our local knowledge Loris, we hatched a cunning plan to get up early to catch wind and tide together for a stab at Salcombe. That way we could arrive not too long after HW. The only uncertainty was just how much a forecast NE6-7 could be cheated, given that we wouldn’t get any real lee until past Start Point.
One of the beauties of a downwind passage in a decent planing hulled boat that answers well to helm is that it is comfortable, fast and often good fun into the bargain. The disadvantage is that you quickly become committed to pressing on rather than turning back, given that an up-tide, up-wind return to base will take a great deal longer and be considerably more uncomfortable.
As we ran across Start Bay the big question was the likely anger of the seas around the sharply focused outline of Start Point ahead on our port bow. The wind was, if anything, rather more than forecast, a telling 15 knots or so across the back of the head with accompanying transom spray telling its own soggy story. Our chosen tactic was to take the inshore route around the off-lying Skerries Bank and then shoot the passage between it and the Point, taking a sniff at the overfalls to see how it all worked.
Not for the first time in this trip we couldn’t believe our luck. The seas grew a little larger as we closed the land but both the NE waves and NW-aligned overfalls were long and Missing Link romped over them with ease. There were quite a few pot markers to be avoided, but all were adequate in size and colour, well at least the ones we saw!
Having then made sufficient offing, we could head for a benign Prawle Point before turning into the small bay which leads to Salcombe.