With forecast winds of F4 or 5 in the SW we debate for a while about heading off to Plymouth, but reason that it probably wont be any worse than Thursday and that once round Start point, the wind will take us nicely to Plymouth. We leave at 8 to make the most of the ebb tide heading west and head off into sunny day with clouds scudding ominously rapidly above us. The sea gradually builds and the actual wind we have is WSW F5 with occasional gusts of F6, but we sail gloriously if lumpily with double reefed main and a small genny. Heydays is impeccably behaved even as the headland opens out and the seas build. She rises easily over most waves with only one or two breakers dumping on the crew. Just once or twice we almost come to a halt as a short wave hits, but she gathers herself quickly enough and plugs on. Rain comes intermittently to dampen the spirits but soon dries again in the wind.
Photo opportunities are in short supply…
Gradually we leave Dartmouth astern and one or two other boats come scudding the other way…alternately disappearing in the troughs then rising high above us again. We start to think about making a tack back inland to a course near to an approach to Plymouth. With winds now a steady F6/7 and gusts of gale 8, there are increasing breakers and the motion is distinctly uncomfortable. We make the turn and are now almost beam on to the seas. This is much harder work for the helm to make sure that we avoid breakers over the side…and is not always avoided. Once or twice we have a couple of inches in the cockpit, but as always, Heydays shakes herself and plugs steadily on. After an hour of this and with Salcombe now off the starboard bow, we make the decision to run in and have a quieter time for the afternoon. We spot the leading marks over the bar (no room for error this time as we are just at low water) and soon we are in the peace and calm of the inlet
except…the harbour is awash with power boats, paddle boards and sailing dinghies all having fun without actually venturing out.
We are directed to the visitors pontoon some way up river and after having refuelled we are soon rafted up next to a charming French couple who will be in no rush to leave themselves.
Yee Tak has to leave us for the weekend, and so we take the water taxi to town and after some grub, put her in a taxi for Totnes and a train to Bristol.
We wander round the little town for a while (lots of holiday-makers of course) and after an ice-cream in the sun end up snoozing back on the boat. The weather can do its worst now!
Postscript: a more careful reading of the Chanel Pilot reveals that “…the salient butt of land between Start Point in the east and Bolt Tail in the west pokes far enough out into the general run of the Channel to create a notoriously rough stretch of water…”!!!