I’d launched into the River Frome near Wareham to sail to Rusty Bow Point the day before. Anchored there while the wind was light but more wind was forecast for the next couple of days. I decided that since the wind was forecast to be easterly 4 to 5 it would be ideal for sailing to the west and the River Dart
Tides were springs so it was essential to time my departure to make the most of the strong currents in the English Channel to make progress
At Rusty Bow point.
So left Poole entrance at 9 am so the last of the ebb would help me along.
Met a lifeboat in the Swash Channel as I was passing Shell Bay
With the smart easterly breeze I soon passed Old Harry Rocks
The ferry from Poole to Cherburg quickly passed me
And saw this fishing boat then
My plan was to sail south from Poole until noon and then turn to the west – when the tidal stream in the English Channel would change direction and help me sail towards my objective for six hours. I calculated that I would be far enough south by then to be clear of the tidal race off St Albans. That plan worked out well. I passed 5 miles south of Portland at 9 knots at 15.00hrs, with the help of the tide and got well into Lyme Bay before the tide turned against me.
By evening the tide had headed me and I was making slow progress over the ground – only 3 knots or so, on the GPS, although still moving fast through the water due to the fresh easterly wind. The BBC evening forecast for sea areas Portland / Plymouth gave East 4 to 5 increasing 5 to 7. The wind did pick-up markedly in the night with some bigger seas. I deep reefed and spent that time under only a 1/3 of the full sail but still doing a good speed through the water.
By the time that I passed the lighthouse at Berry Head the adverse tide had slacked off, the Moon was up and the wind was in my favour at 5 to 6 and I was creaming along well. I entered the River Dart with the tide – it’s easy to enter at night – there is a directional light at the side of the entrance channel which as long as you are heading correctly shows white and soon reached alongside the town where the artificial light was more than ample
Going upstream beyond the town was a bit dark and there was little wind due to the shelter from the steep banks.but the tide took me along slowly and I made it to just below the Anchor Stone where I picked up an empty mooring buoy which I could just about make out in the darkness. It was by then about 5 in the morning. I’d arrived. I opened a tin of baked beans, scoffed them cold from the tin and crashed out.
I slept until about 9 am the next morning then decided to move upstream to anchor .
So I moved up to anchor in the shallows and dry out for low tide. I passed Dittisham on the way
and the well known very quaint boat house to anchor near Stoke Gabriel (sp) for the rest of the day which I spend cooking, eating and sleeping and listening to the wireless.
The next day decided that I would brake up the return trip to Poole into smaller sections and set off from the Dart at mid morning to head east..
Saw loads of big bits of tree floating in the river before leaving the Dart. I presume from the aftermath of the very wet stormy winter that we’d recently had. Glad that I hadn’t hit one in the dark when arriving a couple of days before.
Although it was only April the steam train had started its service
and the tourist boat was running.
.Dittisham looking its best.
Made a slowish passage from the Dart to Exmouth where I arrived just after dark. My own fault for not leaving early enough to make the best of the tides. I should have planned better for the wind was still mainly east but less of it this time. It’s not fun entering Exmouth in darkness. There is a leading light which guides you into the entrance but once past the Exmouth dock/marina entrance it’s very dark with unlit moorings and a tidal current that screams along very fast. I never use marinas,so came to anchor in the little sandy bay just off the recreation ground without mishap.