A last minute decision to take a trip to Exmouth on the evening of Friday 5th October saw Mel and Steve travel to Exmouth to join Nick and others on a daysail in the estuary on Saturday.
The forecast had been for F4-5 from the East and Topsham would have been an easy destination, but as the week progressed the forecast abruptly changed to zero for Saturday morning.
And it is onto a millpond of reflection that four boats began the paddle; Nick and his crew in his beautiful Trio, two people in the Wayfarer and two in an RS Vision (I apologise, I am useless at remembering names). After an hour, and with 20 minutes left of the flood tide it was clear that Topsham was not a likely destination, and we diverted to the unbelievably picturesque Lympstone. This is where the laundry comes into the story – the dwellings in Lympstone have no gardens, and the locals have taken to hanging their washing on the shoreline on ropes strung between great wooden poles to dry.
We avoided the laundry as we made land and shortly afterwards enjoyed the hospitality of Susannah’s Tea Room, a lovely traditional coffee-shop cum centre-of-village-life walkers cafe with yummy cake and drinks.
While we were enjoying the good company and coffee, the wind built to a F3 from the SW. The other boats headed back, and we followed the navigation marks to Topsham. As it happens, the twists and turns of the navigable river forced us to enjoy some lovely spinnaker broad reaches.
The water gets shallow in Topsham, and without local knowledge we chose not to land, because it looked like it would be easy to get stranded; at one point it looked as if we were in the middle of the channel and were in only in 70cm of water with 40m to the shore…
The beat back to Exe SC was in F3-4 was with the ebb tide under us. We briefly stopped at a secluded beach just north of Lympstone, nestled between the red Triassic rocks of the area, and mused that a Cody SC expedition to this estuary should include a stop here for lunch. In total, we sailed about 14 miles.
Thanks to Nick for arranging the facility at Exe SC, and pies, Laura for helping us drop the boat at the sailing club late on Friday, the skippers and crew of the other boats (I should have taken a pad and paper with me) for their engaging and knowledgable company at the coffee stop, and apologies again to Annie for shying a soft drink all over her just after she’d provided it to me at the bar.
The wind on Sunday was forecast F4-6, and when we got to the club, also blowing a F4-6 so we left the racers to it.