Passage 40, Salcombe to Dartmouth

One way or another I was going to Dartmouth. Either by bike or boat. Boat as it turns out. The weather's been awful and I grabbed my one little chance to make progress. Winds were predicted strong, possibly reaching gale force by the afternoon. I picked my time, 11am, to escape over the bar (shallow bit) from Salcombe which turned out to be bumpy but manageable. I was fully reefed and tacked out to sea a little to make a "comfortable" beam reach (wind on my side) sail past Start point. I had to give it a wide berth as there be nasty water closer in on account of the tide swishing past. It wasn't really comfortable. For starters it was raining hard and the visibility was low. For seconders the sea was pretty rough; 3 or 4 meter waves that had accumulated over the past day or two from the wind that had been strong for a while.

As I passed Start point I headed directly down wind. I wound in the foresail completely so I only had my heavily reefed main. I was still doing 6 or 7 knots. I thought I was close enough to land not to worry too much about big ships, but I was fairly shocked to see, through the rain,  the ghostly outline of a huge container ship pass not 2 miles away from me. Flipping 'eck - shouldn't they be, like, 10 miles further out to sea? Then another one came hot on its heels. This was a reminder that I was now in a very busy shipping area and clearly they seem not to stick to the middle!

An hour later I turned a bit more to head straight for Dartmouth and had the wind on the other side. I didn't get the foresail out as I was going quite fast enough thank you very much. I topped 9 knots on several occasions as the boat surfed down a big wave. By the end the wind had strengthened as expected and was now a solid F7. Strong stuff. I shot across Dart bay in heavy seas.

I reached the mouth of the river Dart by 2pm and ambled leisurely under motor up to Dittisham. Sigh of relief as that little passage had the old adrenalin pumping. The Dart river looks like a bigger, even more up-market version of Salcombe. I caught a buoy outside Dittisham and sorted myself out.

As it was mid afternoon it seemed churlish not to take a looksy around Dittisham. Besides I needed some wifi to post up these blogs. So out came the Dinghy and I pottered over to the jetty and wandered about. A model village Dittisham with lots of cosy cottages. I walked to The Red Lion Inn and got some relatively speedy wifi, so sat down with a fine pint of diet coke and blogged.

The first pub I tried had no wifi, but I spoke to a bloke there who said that both lifeboats at Salcombe had got called out in the afternoon and they experienced very bad conditions going over the bar - the one I went over in the morning. This was because the tide had turned and the wind was worse. I can imagine the conditions. I'm not aware of what the rescue was about.

Passage 41, Dartmouth to Topsham