30thSeptember.  After a week weather-bound in Plymouth we hatched our escape plan.  There was a short gap in the strong winds on Monday morning before the next wave of wind and rain arrives on Monday afternoon.  To get round the headlands between Plymouth and Dartmouth we needed to leave early, so at 5.15am we cast off from our berth and motored out of the quiet marina into the darkness of Plymouth Sound. In gentle (9kt) winds we motor-sailed out beyond Plymouth breakwater, spotting the flashes of the marker buoys in the darkness (including a blue light – a wreck?). Soon the strong spring tide was in our favour, adding up to 3 knots to our speed throughout our passage. We put out our jib and our speed over the ground rose to 9kts, overtaking two impressive sail training ships that were also motor-sailing east.

Sail Training Vessel ‘Pegasus’

The sun rose around 7am, and we sped onwards – past Bolt Tail, Bolt Head, then Salcombe, distant up the river, Prawle Point and finally Start Point. On the VHF we heard a French warship and then a US warship warning a fishing vessel to keep clear of their live firing exercise.

Cliffs at Salcombe entrance

Entering the River Dart is always spectacular. The narrow entrance is guarded by castles on each side, and wooded cliffs with impressive homes. Soon the Dart estuary opens up to a view of the town, with the magnificent naval college high on a hillside above the river.  


By 10.15 we were moored in Darthaven marina, a couple of hours earlier than we had expected, and ready for a leisurely cup of coffee in the sunshine – before the wind and rain set in again after lunch!

  • Distance:32nm. Motorsailed 4h45m
  • Wind: W/SW2-4


On our passage ‘Around These Islands’ Anne is writing about each trip, and Jonathan is writing some more ‘technical’ blogs, from our perspective as ordinary cruising sailors. We are sharing what we’ve learned, and welcome your thoughts too. Please remember that this blog – and your comments – are public.

There’s also a special focus on 12 key ports on our planned route, with articles from These Islands and a series of podcasts from Chrome Media called ‘Around These Islands in 12 Ports’.


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