After a very satisfying couple of summers finding our feet with Macavity up at Instow, I started to look more seriously at moving her closer to home. I loved the Taw/Torridge estuary and the good folk of the sailing club, but ultimately I could get a lot more time in sailing if she were home on the Exe. The Winter of 2012-2013 galvanized my commitment to move back  with another succession of weekends sleeping in the van in sub zero temperatures just to get some work done before Spring. Also, I made the mistake of adding up my fuel bills for the year going to and from North Devon…. it was horrifying.


Very pretty, but this sort of thing doesn’t exactly encourage a lively leap out of bed to lie in a puddle with a paintbrush in your hand for hours.


I can’t think of any fundamental changes that were made over the winter. I mounted a 10w solar panel on a piece of varnished marine ply and fixed it with “u” bolts to the pushpit rail. This worked really well as it could be angled to get the best light easily and never seemed to be shaded by the mainsail too badly. I also made up a pair of ply panels shaped to fit on the inside of the hatchway bulkheads. These were spaced away slightly by using three thin, vertical, hardwood battens screwed to the back. This air gap should prevent mildew growth and provide a cable route for the new wiring panel. The wiring panel is a simple off the shelf one which incorporates six toggle switches, each with its own 3A fuse built into a square plastic face plate. Good and cheap!


Ply bulkhead panels added either side of companionway to provide switch panel mount, small shelves and later on, a swing out gps mount. (2014 photo)

I’m an electrician by trade so the actual wiring of the navigation lights, batteries, log, echo sounder, tillerpilot, vhf, and phone charge socket back to the panel was very quick. I bought a drum of tinned twin core flat flex, a bag of screw-on cable tie mounts and a handful of chromed compression glands to do the job properly, bringing all circuit tails up through the new ply panels to connect. As yet I don’t have an electric bilge pump- it’s on the list.


Pushpit frame makes a good mount for solar panel, vhf aerial, stern light and life bouy. All cables go through chromed brass compression glands into cabin.

So with the normal re-varnishing and antifouling duties done, she was ready for the water again by Easter. But which stretch of water? Over the Winter evenings I had done my research. The Exe, like most south coast estuaries, was popular. This meant I was looking  straight down the barrel of a big hike in sailing overheads. Moorings were out of my price range to buy, and rental was controlled by three main organizations plus a few private owners who had no boat at present. The official swing mooring rentals for a year were looking like more than I could afford once the extras, such as registration fees, had been added; I was looking for a private rental. I had drawn a blank with my search until lady luck smiled at me one Sunday afternoon in Sidmouth. I was in town waiting to meet a chap who was letting me have his old spinnaker pole. After a brief chat it turned out he had two moorings on the Exe, one of which he wasn’t using and could rent out to me. A great piece of fortune as it was already March and if I couldn’t find somewhere immediately, I would be forced to have Macavity craned into the water up at Instow for another year. So began a mad flurry of activity, the results of which were two cranes booked (one at Instow and one at Topsham at high water), a chunky road trailer borrowed, a good 4×4 borrowed and a van load of tools, ratchet straps and helpers scooting up the link road. I sold my mooring on the Torridge estuary to help cover the costs.


Ready to head south. Macavity averaged 35 knots on this passage!

Amazingly it all went without a hitch, despite us choosing the first and busiest bank holiday weekend of the year to ferry her down to her new home. Many, many thanks again to Pete Short of Instow Marine for all his help over the past couple of years and with the move, and to Retreat Boatyard in Topsham for their continued assistance and good service.

Money spent on Macavity’s winter upkeep and upgrades this year amounted to around £200.

  •  £70 for the solar panel.
  • £20 for the cable, compression glands, and stainless fixings.
  • £10 for ply offcuts and brass screws.
  • £10 for switch panel.
  • £90 antifouling, paint and varnish.

The move south to Exmouth ended up costing me nothing financially as the sale of my mooring (made and laid by ourselves on a patch of no mans land) covered all costs except the crane in at Retreat. I would have had to crane her in anyway so the change in location made no difference. My  privately rented Exe mooring was very reasonable indeed and gave me the chance to try out keeping  a boat here for a year without too much commitment. Over the summer I made much more use of Macavity than in previous years simply because she was so close; I could pop down for a sail after work. We spent many weekends enjoying the various riverside pubs at anchor or taking a jaunt along the coast on a good forecast and decided that it was a far better base for us, we were here to stay. I bought the latest chart pack of the area and began making plans for 2014.


Safely hoisted out of the Exe by Retreat Boatyard after a glorious summer of exploration.