Plymouth Dinghy Cruise


It was decided that this July’s dinghy cruise would be held in Plymouth. The intention was to sail in the beautiful surroundings that this area provides, we were not disappointed.

Three club wayfarer dinghies, Bluemoon, Colin and Harry Wardell. Samphire, Cliff Poultney and Trevor Harrington. Ready Salted Mike Worboys, Jeremy Richardson & Martin Maloney, set off for a 4am start on Friday 01/07/16, the plan was to arrive in Plymouth mid-morning, with boats ready to sail by lunch time. Equipment Preparation and packing of sailing gear for all weather conditions paid off as we were to experience very changeable conditions, from day one.

DAY ONE Friday 01/07/16, Approximately 10nm aboard Ready Salted F4/F6 SW predominantly sunshine and showers

All three boats were rigged and a placed on the Mountbatten centre pontoon, the crews recessed for an agreeable lunch and pint of tribute, a local ale which would become a firm favourite.

After a sailing plan and safety briefing the decision was made to set off for our first sail in Plymouth sound, by about 1300 hours all three boats were ready, for what would be a memorable sail.

The prevailing westerly wind blowing force 4 to 5 with the occasional 6 to 7 gusts certainly made the two reefs a welcome forethought.

The further out we got the relative shelter provided by the huge breakwater barrier was lost, the plucky wayfarers and their crew were treated to a roller coaster ride in the swell, the decision was made to head for calmer inshore waters, and all three boats made for Cawsand, where we pulled up on the beach, a perfect opportunity for an ice-cream, after which we all enjoyed a speedy and delightful run back to Mountbatten, arriving early evening, getting all three boats back was no problem at all, however landing on the pontoon under sail could be described as challenging, our combined skills were set to improve (slightly). a delightful supper was had at the Bridge restaurant in Plymouth yacht haven, and yet more tribute was consumed.

DAY TWO Saturday 02/07/16 Approximately 20nm aboard Ready Salted F4-F5 WSW sunshine and showers

Set up for the day with a full English breakfast, we made our way onto the club pontoon to prepare for another day’s adventure.

The wind direction was still predominantly WSW, but was forecast to veer in every direction except North, luckily the strength had tamed to a more cruise worthy F4&5, warm and sunny.

Today’s plan was to sail the upriver reaches of the Tamar, destination Halton Quay for cream tea.

All three wayfarers set off on a broad reach from Mountbatten, we were soon split up by the busy Saturday action, but regrouped just by the mouth of the Tamar. We set off again, this time keeping tighter formation.

Our course took us through naval dock areas past HMS Argos and past all number local sailing clubs and slipways. After negotiating the car ferry crossing at Torpoint, we sailed majestically under the towering A 38 road bridge.  All three Wayfarers continued on a broad reach up river on the flood tide, past yet more moorings and sailing clubs. The wind direction and force was continually changing, and at one point we were hit by an enormous squall, blowing from almost nothing to possibly F7 or above for a good 10 minutes, and was gone just as soon as it appeared, to leave a dead calm which we struggled with in the shallows of the Tamar, every now and then we were hit by a sudden strong gust through the trees, on a couple of occasions resulting in scooping up a boat full of water. As the wind dropped further,  the decision was made to finish the upriver leg to Halton Quay under power.

Refreshed with a fine cheese scone and tea we left Halton with the ebb, again under power for the first mile or so, until the breeze filled and allowed us to sail a mixture of reach and run back to Mountbatten, for another attempt at the pontoon landing under sail. A well-deserved supper and more tribute ale at the pub next door handily called The Mountbatten, rounded off a full day’s adventure.

DAY THREE Sunday 03/07/16 Approximately 10nm aboard Bluemoon F3-F4 SW predominantly Sunny

Breakfasted and ready to go all three boats set off again in to Plymouth sound, today the swell was less than before, allowing us to explore the areas past the breakwater which stretches across the mid-point of Plymouth sound.

Blessed with clear blue sky and near perfect sailing conditions we sailed back to Cawsand, to anchor and wade ashore for Cornish Ice cream. Returning on a splendid downwind goose winged run all the way back to Mountbatten.

This evenings meal was booked at the Clovelly Bay Inn, thanks to Kevin Stubbs for the recommendation, no tribute ale on offer, but a couple of pints of Devon dumpling accompanied a fine chowder in my case, and other varied delights.

DAY Four Monday 04/07/16 Approximately 10nm aboard Samphire F3-F4 SW

The breeze and general sea state had calmed considerably. Conditions this morning were much different again from previous as a fog hung in the air however viability was not too bad at Mountbatten. The plan today was to head through Plymouth sound and head east with the possibility of reaching the River Yealm.  The visibility decreased by about mile 2 to such a degree it was decided to head back to Mountbatten. However once within sight of base it was clear that conditions were perfect for another trip across the sound to Cawsand for more delicious ice cream. After which Jeremy and I took Samphire back to Mountbatten on another fabulous downwind run,  leaving the remaining crews to further enjoy the delights of Plymouth.

DAY Five Tuesday 05/07/16 Approximately 21nm in Ready Salted and Blue Moon  F3-F4 WNW

Weather forecast was for steady NW 3-4 for 24 hours suggesting that the Channel wound be calmer due to an offshore wind. Bluemoon and Ready Salted set off for the Yealm and Newton Ferrers quite early in order to have time to get into and more importantly out of the Yealm before the flood set in at 13.30. After a delightful sunny sojourn on the sandy/muddy beach near Newton Ferrers (more hot drinks and flapjack types A and B from Harry), we decided that the timing and conditions were too good to miss so, instead of turning back towards Plymouth, we set off along the coast to Salcombe with a full flood tide beneath us and a steady following wind, crossing the 10nm Bigbury Bay and then the 5nm stretch of rocky coastline between Bolt Tail and Bolt Head, the latter marking the westerly end of the entrance to Salcombe Harbour. This was a passage we had talked about and researched earlier but had felt to be a step too far until persuaded by the perfect conditions. Salcombe itself was the rather busy centre we had feared, but served us well with a pontoon to moor on, a selection of slipways to recover the boats and a good pub to eat in before trailing the boats back to Mountbatten.

Overall, Plymouth Sound and the surrounding rivers form an excellent area to explore and the Mountbatten Centre could not have been more convenient as a base. As last year, trailing the boats was not a big deal once you are underway. We covered 77nm in distance made good and considerably more over the water. Good weather and even better company made this another successful trip. Much of the local knowledge for the trip was provided through the newly-formed list of local experts held by the UK Wayfarers Association. Thanks also to Kevin Stubbs for his excellent data pack of charts, tides, possibilities for voyages and dining suggestions.

Thanks to Colin and all for arranging such a splendid trip, and to those who accompanied, for their splendid company.



About Author

Andrew is Marconi Sailing Clubs webmaster. He sails a Tornado Sport Catamaran and Sprint 15.

Leave A Reply