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A Close Hauled Sail from Salcombe to Plymouth!

After a beautiful week exploring Salcombe and its surrounding countryside it was time to continue our journey west. The forecast was showing reasonable winds of 12-15knots from the west/north west for the majority of our sail with a pleasant temperature of 16˚C. Low water in Salcombe was at 10.48am and we wanted to catch the ebb tide out of the harbour before picking up the favourable tide to Plymouth. Slack water in the bay was at approximately 7.54am.

There is a bar at the entrance to the harbour which has a least depth of 0.5m LAT. It is advised that you should not negotiate the bar on an ebb tide with strong onshore winds or swell. On our morning of departure we were reading just 6 knots of wind from the west and made the decision to leave just after 7.00am so as to ensure we had plenty of water below us going over the bar.

Despite the light winds the area around the bar was still particularly swelly and the waves surprisingly rough. We had our full main up for some extra stability and pushed the revs up to 2500rpm. Needless to say it was quite an unpleasant ride. Later that day we heard that a gig rowing boat had capsized close to the entrance with seven people on board shortly after we had left. Fortunately all were rescued by the Salcombe Lifeboat.

Once safely out of the harbour we proceeded out before making our turn at 50˚10.520N 3˚48.839W. We then enjoyed a rather close hauled sail along the coast! Unfortunately we had misjudged our turn meaning a tack was in order as we approached Stoke Point near Yealm Head (we had hoped to do it in one!). In hindsight we probably should have proceeded further out from Salcombe for a couple of more miles before making our initial turn but we continue to learn!

The wind was as predicted at a sustained 13/14knots from the west/north west. One more tack put us on course direct for Cawsand Bay. With full main and full head sail we continued on the lean with the sea whooshing by the side hull windows!

Cawsand Bay Anchorage

Our destination for the rest of the day and night was the anchorage at Cawsand Bay. This large bay offers good protection from westerly winds and good holding. A relatively easy approach from the East, the anchorage was fairly busy, with it being a pleasant Sunday afternoon (June 2022), but by evening many had left allowing us to enjoy the sunset in peace! This was just going to be a temporary stop as we needed to restock on food and do some washing…it was time to head into a marina again!


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