We are just back home after 10 days sailing WABI”’ from our home mooring at Calstock boatyard along the eastern section of the west-country via the Yealm, Salcombe, the Dart and Torbay : several of those being almost completely new territory to me. WABI”’ is now alongside in a mud berth at Topsham which is pretty much the practical head of navigation for sailing boats on the Exe estuary. The title photograph was taken during a brief period of sunshine in-between heavy rain showers and plenty of wind : that is the Topsham sailing club jetty and their clubhouse and yes a Devon Yawl out front. We spent a night on one of their club moorings and then met the bar manager Richard who was extremely helpful to us when we went alongside the next morning to try and find a berth or a mooring. As it worked out although Richard kindly offered us the use of a club mooring we actually managed to sort out an ideal mud berth at the boatyard just downstream (Trouts) where we plan to be for the autumn and winter.
WABI”’ will only float where she is now for a couple of hours either side of high water and probably not at all on neaps : Mark the boss says he will move me onto a more accessible finger berth as some of the summer boats come out of the water. For now and with strong gales forecast this week WABI”’ is in just about the best berth possible and i can get on and off do some jobs during the rest of my leave. With the amount of wind we had on the day it was shall we say ‘challenging’ getting in there….well not so much getting in there as it was dead downwind but then getting stopped and lines ashore before being blown strongly off again !
This area is almost entirely new to me except that i have seen the Exe estuary many times from the main railway line which runs along it for several miles from Exeter right down to Dawlish Warren. I had wanted to get into the Exe for years and have a poke around the Exemouth end but always been told that its a difficult bar and entrance : i will cover that in a separate post. Now having seen the whole place from the water its an area that i want to cruise for a while before moving on : once again to move on from the Exe would have meant the passage across Lyme bay and around the Bill and with big spring tides and a F7 forecast that isn’t somewhere i would want to be in the little Liberty. WABI”’ is i think still one of the ideal boats for this kind of estuary as a lot of it is very thin and either muddy or sandy.
The place itself : we haven’t had much time to explore yet, we did motor as far up the river as the retreat boatyard and the motorway bridge and did go alongside the quay briefly. Immediately obvious is that most of the boats here are either bilge keelers or centreboarders , noticeable is a strong Devon Yawl fleet and one Dayboat. Its definitely a place for small boats that will take the bottom apart from a few deep keeled yachts in a small area of deeper moorings.
I am very glad that we have got the WABI”’ voyage underway again after losing most of the ‘summer’ to injury and delays. We have an entirely new area to explore this autumn and one that isn’t so far from home : its only about an hour and a half drive rather than 3 or 4 to get to the next major stop at Poole.
Today i had my first real look at the village itself and i had the time to have a walk around and take a whole load of photographs so when i have the time i will do a second post just about the place itself.