Goodbye Weymouth, hello Salcombe

27.04.2015: Farewell Weymouth … Hello Salcombe


Good morning Weymouth and Farewell

Weymouth had one more gift for my niece, her fiancé and I that morning – a pair of harbour porpoises came and spent the morning cavorting in tandem close to A-Jay, courting perhaps.  A wonderful sight that had the quayside crowded 3 deep for hours.  That evening Sam and Sarah arrived and joined me for a lovely dinner at ‘No. 4’ on the quayside.

Skipper’s Log 27th April 2015….

Outline Plan; ETD 0400, to Salcombe, West close round East Shambles, then 252°, check state of Salcombe Bar, anchor above the Bag, alone ….

Reveille was a cold, grumpy cheerless affair.  A-Jay clung to the pontoon, as if unwilling to leave, pressed by the chill wind, so half asleep I decided to reverse against a stern warp to swing the bows out before casting off and yelling at Yanni to get going … fast; thus we cleared the plump, plastic rump of the sleeping boat ahead by 2 feet, a manoeuvre perched on the precipice of disaster throughout, though I felt Lady Luck had deigned to visit; to witness boldness, or to gently nudge our bows? Whichever, we made it and I swigged hot, strong coffee in celebration as we puttered past Condor, lights ablaze, generators humming.

My little team barrelled round East Shambles in the darkness at 7 knots and swept through the rose hued dawn and out into the sky blue morning beyond … where the flirty wind all but deserted us.  Solent Coastguard cheerfully informed us of good sailing winds but we could find little more than 5 knots of it. Someone else must have had the rest of it. Time to dig out my 900 page biography of Beethoven and get Harry the autopilot organised.

West Shambles off Portland

West Shambles off Portland 

There was a sad moment, when a small, exhausted bird landed and clung to a guard-wire.  Frightened and exhausted, he eyed me nervously and decided certain death was a better option than staying and took off, zig zagging ever lower for the shore many miles away.

Riding the tide Westwards at a sedate 5 ½ knots we could see the broad loom of Lyme Bay to the North and later, Berry Head became visible to the eye and radar at 24 nautical miles.  Expecting more challenging conditions, I had prepared a commodious nose bag to graze on …


Hot baked beans and sausages

Read and butter

Tea and coffee

Ginger Nuts


Tensies, Elevenses …

E.g. Home-made flapjack (huge) topped with Belgian chocolate, Ginger Nuts




Bread and butter




Ginger Nuts



Coca Cola & water


Ginger Nuts



Supper (on arrival)

Chicken Tikka Masala

Pilau rice

NO Ginger Nuts

Those that know me will be aware that I enjoy the occasional lunch or dinner with friends or family, but I must add that the intake of food – calories – and liquid are both a pleasure and necessity on a lengthy passage for it helps maintain strength, warmth and concentration and thus morale, vital when already tired.

As the afternoon arrived, Solent Coastguard’s earlier prophecy proved correct and a tetchy contrary wind duly arrived, positioning itself comfortably on our nose like a scratchy pince nez.  Sometimes I set off in “point and go mode”, when covering distance to make an RV is primary and sailing secondary  –  this was, I felt, such an occasion.  So Yanni droned on, Harry wheezed away and Smiley slept as we motor-sailed straight at the tetchy wind, which swirled and danced at 27 knots, as we rounded Start Point.

Start Point

Start Point

My lovely cousin Sarah is a Coast Watch volunteer and helps man the Prawle Point post; she suggested I call ‘Prawle Point NCI’ on VHF 65, which I did to check the conditions on the Salcombe Bar and they reported the Bar was in a calm mood.  What a great service these volunteers provide.

As we motored slowly towards the estuary entrance packing sails and preparing warps, fenders, and anchor – just in case – Gannets dive-bombed explosively all around the boat, an amazing sight.  For a split second I panicked at the thought that the remains of my nose back might have escaped, but no, they had better fish to fry.

Anchored opposite Frogmore Creek (Salcombe)

Anchored opposite Frogmore Creek (Salcombe)

We dropped the hook 3.5 metres down into the primordial ooze, a cable West of Salt Stone Beacon, in grumpy solitary splendour far from the ‘madding crowd’, watched only by several still, sentinel Cormorants.  We’d managed 65 miles in around 12 hours from sails up to sails down.  Time for a glass of hair restorer…..

Sunset light glints on salted steel

Dan-buoy flag flirts with evening breeze

Normandy cross on red, proud symbol

Of home port and life left far behind


Viewed across restless darkening waves

Whale backed mudflat, brown and with some green

Home perch for black, still, sentinel Shags

Eyed by sulking, puff chested gulls


This is Salcombe, by Salt Stone Beacon

A-Jay floats, tied to primordial ooze

Restless, stirred gently by wind and tide

And skipper’s glass is raised to the World.”

Pleasant days with runs ashore to see cousin Sarah and her husband Roger and lunch with Auntie, 89 ¾ and Uncle one month younger than Prince Phillip.  The Harbour Master visited and politely relieved me of 90p per metre per night as Billy the Cormorant watched from atop an orange buoy, lazily unfurling his wings for a shower.  Billy the Cormorant folded his wings in salute as we puttered past in the dinghy, ramrod straight, chest out tummy in, true Guardsman style.  A grey heron greeted us later as we turned past Snape for the harbour…wonderful.

I have never been up ‘river’ in heavy weather, so it was a revelation to witness high winds and rain but calm water that barely ruffled A-Jay’s feathers ….  an almost eerie experience for a salty old dog.

We’ll bid farewell to my feathered friends and this delicious landscape tomorrow and head for a destination yet to be decided, but Westwards, always Westwards until Land’s End.

Toot toot

P.S. Still no sign of Ari the Arachnid – guess he must have jumped ship.



By ajay290

7 comments on “Goodbye Weymouth, hello Salcombe

  1. A fantastic trip. i am much enjoying the tales of your sailing exploits. When do you expect to be in SW Wales? We might plan a visit to repel you with Ginger Nuts or cake.

    I am committed to various things until after 8 Jun but stand-by to repel a border (Fore-Deck Nobber) sometime this summer. Fair Winds and Following Seas! Peter

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