I’ve written very little over the summer this year, mainly due to trying to make the most of any available sailing opportunities between various construction projects and my obligations to them. I’ve mostly been taking the odd evening trip up river to anchor on a Friday evening after work, ready to be up with the lark and shoot out in the morning for a trip along the coast. This is the technique I’ve embraced over the past five years of my sailing apprenticeship in order to actually get somewhere rather than be held back by an opposing tide or a shallow bar out of the estuary.
We have been very lucky and seen a good deal of wildlife this year. Anchoring for the evening at the Turf is great in itself as you get to watch all the daytime birds going to roost before the nightime creatures come out to hunt. It’s often a deafeningly noisy transition and one that I always love to sit and watch from the cockpit with a final glass of red before hitting the hay. There’s the normal leaping fish, diving cormorants and the resident Exe seals to look out for too. The icing on the cake though happened on a late return into the estuary after an abandoned trip to Torbay.
We were getting close to Ansteys cove when the wind died and left us drifting for a while. We still had plenty of time but were really tired and hungry after a long week so when the breeze came back on the nose a bit later, we decided to turn around for an easier run back to the river. We were just passing the Exe fairway bouy when a noisy, fishy exhalation behind my back made me turn around. We counted six dolphins around us who seemed as fascinated by what we were doing as we were with them. They kept swimming along at us, passing under Macavity before heading off towards the river, then charging back to us seemingly to see what was taking us so long. Due to Macavity having a fairly low freeboard, we could at times have reached out under the safety lines and touched them, they were that close. We were absolutely beside ourselves with this display from these beautiful animals which were so much larger than we had imagined. Only got a couple of rather poor photographs unfortunately, due to neither of us wanting to go below to rummage for the camera while they were still with us!
It has been quite an unusual summer for weather so far. It seems to have been quite windy in general with a good deal of it from the east. This has scuppered any attempts I’ve made to head east for Lyme Regis which is a shame as I’d set this up as a new goal for my 2015 exploits. It’s not far really, but it’s a drying harbour so if you don’t get there in time, you end up stuck outside in a hefty easterly swell. Coastal hops from my base on the Exe mean either heading west or east to the next sanctuary. With a trip east being tricky to time correctly with fickle head winds and no inboard engine to fall back on, we’ve been mostly heading west again. This has brought into my mind the realization that after five years of fantastic estuary exploration on both north and south devon coasts with Macavity, I now have the desire to explore more distant lands. A friend recently had a very enjoyable trip to the channel islands from the Exe and is planning to visit the scilley isles soon…. this is the sort of thing I want to aim for in the coming years.
To ensure more success and comfort for myself and some crew and to shorten my passage times I’ve accepted the fact that there are more suitable boats than my dear old W25. If my sailing is to take me into deeper, open water where tidal gates are going to be more of an issue, I’m going to need a deeper keel, a reliable diesel inboard and maybe a bit more space inside. Horses for courses as some say. It’s been an agonizing decision to make after all our adventures together but I’ve now made it. Sadly dear reader, Macavity is up for sale.
She’s for sale on ebay and apolloduck currently, along with her original trailer at a very reasonable price of £3500.
Her mooring is also for sale (£1000) as if I need a deeper keel, I’m also going to need a deeper mooring.
I’m currently looking at folkboat derived craft and am favouring the Halcyon 27 and Invicta 26. The Contessa 26 would of course be perfect but is outside of my budget by a considerable margin. The times they are a changing….