From one mouth to another

27th September - 22nd October

Over the last month we have sailed from one mouth to another, that point where a river flows into the sea. In Falmouth we were on the River Fal, Plymouth the River Tamar and River Plym which happen to join at Plymouth Sound to form the county border between Devon and Cornwall. In Dartmouth it was the River Dart that flows down from the beautiful area of Dartmoor with its national park and finally today we are in Weymouth with the smallest of all of these rivers flowing into the sea, the River Wey. 

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Before leaving Falmouth we thought it was time to investigate the National Maritime Museum that was literally on our doorstep. The National Maritime Museum is home to a collection of boating history both past and present. In one galley boats of all shapes, sizes and functions hung from the ceiling including the Laser Ben Ainslie claimed his gold medal in at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and a sabot that brought back very distant memories for Andrew of a holiday many years ago of his first ever sailing holiday with cousins in Brisbane. The windsurfer took over after that. 

The day prior to our departure we farewelled Mario Del Rey the proud owner of his new yacht La Dama, a Fairlie 55, which he had painstakingly overseen being built over two years. The interior was simply stunning and a credit to his vision - a real gentleman’s saloon complete with a beautiful galley with a brass sink. It was like stepping back in time inside. Mario was sailing single handed on his first passage to Spain - we were happy when he notified us of his safe arrival. 

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Our next port of call was Plymouth, again a familiar harbour where we had called in 2013. Our arrival was planned for a period called “Free Flow” where the tide is at such a level it does not impact upon the marina and the lock gates can remain open. Makes for a much easier entrance. Sutton Harbour where we stayed for the week is right in the middle of the Barbican area, that area that covers the western and northern sides of the old harbour area and contains many historical buildings that escaped demolition during “The Blitz’ of the Second world War. Interestingly a lot of these seem to be very old pubs as one would expect for a harbour area. With the hanging on of the “Indian Summer” weather we spent most afternoons walking the shore line through “The Hoe” and around many of the cobblestone streets and old buildings. 

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Before leaving Cornwall and Devon Lee wanted to see Dartmoor National Park and Andrew wanted to head for the town of Heathfield to check on a possible new tender. So with car hire sorted, we headed off for a drive day with guide book in hand. After a quick discussion with the tender manufacturer we started our tour of Dartmoor National Park in Buckfastleigh. Buckfastleigh is on the edge of the National Park and home to the Buckfast Abbey. Its origins go back to Norman times but that as many monasteries did fell into ruin after the period of Dissolution and it was not until 1882 that a small group of Benedictine monks began to reestablish this as a working community and monastery. For us it had a very business like approach to its visitors, but perhaps this is why it is so successful in commercially maintaining the balance of faith and way of life with the intrusion of tourists. The gardens were beautifully maintained whilst the abbey displayed some very impressive stained glass and ceiling artwork by the monks.

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From the Abbey we wove our way through roads with hedges so high you could not see over them let alone around them - a little disconcerting when it is a two way road. We crossed the tumbling stream of the River Dart, found a pack of Dartmoor Ponies wandering along the roadside, dodged cows who sat contentedly on the roadside chewing amongst the ferns, saw baron granite hilltops with church ruins standing out for miles and passed by Princetown with its ominous looking huge goal that must have been literally at the end of the rail line. Lunch was at Two Bridges in the middle of Dartmoor National Park, babbling brooks alongside complete with geese and of course two stone bridges. Just a great day out enjoying the variety of scenery, wildlife and dwellings. 

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Before leaving Plymouth we were fortunate to arrange with the manufacturer from Highfields to bring a tender down to the marina. With a little lifting, jostling, and juggling we managed to get it into the water at the marina and test its fit in our garage. Well the 3.6 just wouldn’t fit “by just that much” despite Andrews determination, so we are happy we have tried and are so looking forward to our new 3.4m next year. 

Next stop Dartmouth. Dartmouth is simply beautiful from the water. As you arrive into the outer harbour you are greeted by the sight of Dartmouth castle then further in on both sides of the harbour you have the colourful buildings of Dartmouth and Kingswear. Last time we were here we fought with securing onto a mooring thankfully this time Darthaven Marina at Kingswear had a position for us making our arrival far more enjoyable. 

Kingswear is also home to the train station from which a steam train leaves daily for its run to the seaside town of Paignton. From here a 30 minute bus ride to Totnes allows you to jump on a boat and do a boat tour down the river Dart back to Dartmouth. Our first attempt to complete the loop was undone by the weather. The train trip, hauled along by the engine called Hercules built in 1920 to haul coal trains in the Welsh Valley, was great in the warmth of the cabin.  But after a wander around Paignton, which could only be described as a text book British Beach Holiday town with more gaming parlours and bingo halls then you can imagine the chill was starting to set in. This was followed by a 30 minute open topped bus ride through the countryside to Totnes, only mad tourists would sit up top in 9 degrees, as we did and subsequently on arrival into Totnes we were frozen. At this point we opted to return to Kingswear on a local bus (inside) to the warmth of Katherine rather than waiting an additional two hours for the boat trip back. 

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Take Two we headed out early two days later and took the morning boat trip up the River Dart to Totnes. Better equipped with our layers we appreciated the morning colours of the river scenery and enjoyed a very hearty warm breakfast on our arrival into Totnes. Totnes itself is a very pretty medieval town complete with gates and a Norman castle perched on its hillside. Perhaps however it is a sign of how long we have been touring or just the weather but we were happy to avoid the museums and cathedrals and just wander the local market, peruse a few art stores and find another quaint cafe before embarking on the bus back to Paignton to board the steam train for our return to Kingswear. Great way to spend a day - but be warned if its autumn pack more layers then you may think you need. 

Kingswear was certainly a harbour you could just stay in and enjoy touring Cornwall and Devon from. There was no need for a clock as the Steam Train blasted his horn each day around 11am, 2pm and 4pm and getting to Dartmouth was easy with the Dartmouth Castle ferry constantly crossing between the two harbours throughout the day. 

But it was time to move on - heading further east to our next port of call Weymouth.

So here we are, back to one of our first ports of call of this season alongside the very spot we were on the 13th April and some 3058nm of sailing later. 

(Click for more photos)



© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain