Salcombe 2.7. – 6.7.
From Falmouth our journey continued east towards Salcombe. The tide was still favourable, so the 54-mile leg passed quickly.
When arriving to the Salcombe inlet, at first it looks like arriving to a huge estuary. However there are no major rivers in addition to few streams in the Salcombe basin. The area where the estuary is extraordinarily vast compared to the river is called ria (in Spanish ría, in Portugese ria and in French aber). The size of the estuary is due to the rising sea level or falling ground level. Therefore Salcombe looks like a major estuary but the river itself is missing :-)
The weather forecast was showing strong easterly winds for the next couple of days, thus we passed the centre and went searching the mooring buoy deeper on the ria. All buoys were taken except one massively huge. Just as we had made Suwena securely fast and were coiling the lines after sea voyage, a harbour patrol with his own dinghy hurried towards us. The mooring was reserved for boats over 20 metres long. After pondering for a while he come up with another free buoy even deeper on the ria. The new place was perfect. We were surrounded by peaceful English countryside with a view of fields and sounds of birds, and most important there were no wind!
Immediately upon arrival to the Salcombe ria it was clear that we are in one of the most popular sailing centres of Southern England. There was even an own fairway marked on the chart for arriving boats. This enabled numerous dinghy sailors a smooth practicing and competing on their own racecourse.
Later during the weekend the racecourse passed the anchorage area. It was exciting to follow the tactical decisions that the skippers were making while passing the anchored yachts swinging in the current and wind. It seemed that a few times Suwena’s bowsprit’s and swimming platform’s reach surprised the competitors as the jibs and tacks were made hastily around us with sails slightly touching Suwena.
We were also glad to notice that dinghy sailing in Salcombe is the whole family’s affair by combining crews from different ages. Grandfather with grandchildren or father/mother with son/daughter were a customary sight. Also the streets of Salcombe were filled with sailors. No wonder that Salcombe is called: "Drinking town with the sailing problem". The first part of course is referring to the ample supply of watering holes at the town’s centre. After all Salcombe is one of the biggest holiday towns with many beautiful beaches In Southern England.
You can only imagine the bustle on the bay when dinghies swarmed back and forth between anchored yachts and ashore. Also our Pikku Suwena was frequently used for shuttling between a town and Suwena. From the boat it was about a mile to the centre and with our small dinghy the trip took about 12 minutes. We’ve not yet bought a new engine and our small 2.5 HP outboard pushes the dinghy at the leisurely pace. At first the water was smooth but when arriving closer to the town’s centre there is a wind tunnel through the ria creating some chop and spraying us with water.
Salcombe’s shore and beaches are very clean. One smart invention was to arrange garbage collection of yachts at a separate floating pontoon on the bay instead of rubbish bins ashore. Thus the dinghy trip frequently involved a quick pit stop.
Of course we also went to visit at the Salcombe Yacht Club and received a warm welcome as visiting yachtsmen. As always it is nice to chat with local sailors. Their clubhouse is on the hill and the view to the ria from the terrace is magnificent. What could be better than to enjoy a pint at the late afternoon sunshine while following busy boat traffic down below?
Our days in Salcombe passed by relaxing and enjoying the nature. As an anchorage, the Salcombe ria is the top choice!