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Start Point, tidal race clearly visable

OK, it’s day one, you have got on the boat and you’re itching to go. On the way down in the car you discussed various destinations and the plan is to go to Salcombe for the first day. It looks about 20 miles away and shouldn’t take much longer than 4 – 5 hours, as a bonus it will be high tide which means the Salcombe bar can be easily crossed.

The forecast is for a South Westerly Force 5 and the tide in Salcombe looks to be high at about 2 o’clock …

Although this plan is possible there are reasons why you may change your mind.

Unsurprisingly, the weather plays a very large part in your plan. A sailing boat cannot sail directly into the wind – typically 45’ is ok but even this may not be achievable; if the sea has had chance to build a little, you won’t find it very comfortable to sail even at this angle.

Sailing at 45’ to your destination will require a number of tacks and it’s important not to under estimate the number of tacks you’ll need to complete your ‘leg’ to Salcombe. Typically you may need to double your distance to the destination and time taken.

The second issue is that although high water is preferable at Salcombe, when you arrive it means the tide will be against you from Brixham, typically slowing you by a knot or so.

On route to Salcombe is Start Point which is a headland and typically this means a tidal gate (pictured above), where the tide will run strongly against you and you may even go backwards! You can see the tidal race in the picture. This can mean endless beating to get to the destination.

Having explained such a situation to our guests/crew, we would recommend a change of plan – perhaps a halfway house to Dartmouth and up to Dittisham which will be well sheltered and has a great pub!