Southampton to Plymouth

Summer 2022
John Andrews
Tue 5 Jun 2012 12:03

We launched Suilven just before Easter, and have been enjoying taking friends and family out on the Solent. This is new stamping ground for us, and has been very enjoyable, blessed by wonderfully sunny weather. Unfortunately, the winds have been consistently very light or impossibly strong, so we have not really been able to test the new rig.

We started our cruise in earnest on 21st May. We were joined by David and Anne for the opening leg down to Dartmouth. We set off in the afternoon for Yarmouth in order to be well placed to catch the start of the ebb out of the Needles Channel. I remember years ago having to raft out in Yarmouth, three or four deep. There are now a lot of new pontoons so we were moored very comfortably alongside. Yarmouth is still as charming as I remember, shown off at its best in the glorious sunshine.

Weymouth was our next port of call. It is as strange as ever. There was a bit of a mission to track down a good pint of ale. As none of the pubs seemed capable of providing this, a good deal of rather dodgy beer was consumed in the quest for satisfaction. We decided against a smart meal out, partly as a result of our previous experience a few years ago in the ‘best’ seafood restaurant in Weymouth and partly as a result of the beer quest. Takeaway fish and chips seemed to the best option and this was confirmed by the crew of the boat moored alongside who were rather non-committal about  their own meal out. Weymouth was teeming with decorators in paint besmattered overalls, fettling the place up for the Olympics, but I fear that this is very much a cosmetic exercise. Nevertheless, Weymouth does have a certain charm and is definitely its own place.

Next stop Dartmouth, and we were encouraged to take the inner channel around Portland Bill by our neighbouring yacht who had done the passage dozens of times. We had made this passage once previously in fairly windy conditions, which had proved very dramatic. We had crept around the Bill, a few yards from the rocks, with white water only yards away from us to seaward . This time the conditions were very benign, so that David and Anne we felt were rather wondering whether we had bigged up the whole experience.

Dartmouth was as charming as ever, but not charming enough to hold us there, as we had a mission to get to Newton Ferrers, one of our favourite places in the West Country. David and Anne left us in Dartmouth and we set off Westwards, unfortunately motoring yet again. After anchoring for lunch just outside Salcombe harbour, we went on around the corner and navigated our way carefully over sandbanks and through shallow waters into Newton Ferrers where we picked up a visitors mooring. A visit to the pub on the Noss Mayo side and a walk through the village on the Newton Ferrers side, confirmed us in our view that this is a very pleasant place indeed.

A gale warning the next morning made us leave earlier than planned for the run round to Plymouth. We left the boat there for a few days while we went back home to Deepdale to get on top of unfinished jobs before leaving the house for the summer. The wind did indeed pick up and we had to deploy all six of our fenders to protect us as we were being blown hard against the pontoon in huge winds.