When you leave the Solent and sail west, the first place you will come to where you can drop the anchor and spend a bit of time is Studland Bay. It is next to the entrance to Poole harbour, the largest natural harbour in Great Britain. At the southern end of Studland Bay stand the Old Harry Rocks, a group of chalk stacks which probably joined up with the Isle of Wight and the Needles a few million years ago. We spent an idyllic weekend here in summer 1999 when I painted this sketch early in the morning before the day trippers arrived with their noisy jet skis and fast motor boats.
Continuing west we would pass Weymouth, Portland Bill and cross Lyme Bay to Brixham, an interesting old fishing town opposite Torquay, the riviera of Devon. After a few days there we usually continued west to Salcombe, our favourite holiday destination for many years, first camping with the children and then on the boat.
The moorings at Salcombe are all on buoys, some near the town and many further up stream in the river with the fields sloping down on both sides. I have lost count of how many times we came here but one of the most memorable was when I slipped and cut my head as we approached the entrance. Bob called up the harbourmaster and he sent one of his tenders out to meet us and help us to moor up. Our saviour, Bruce, leapt aboard our boat and helped Bob to take down the sails and tie up the boat to the harbour wall before taking us to the local doctor where I was stitched up. It was Sunday lunchtime and everybody was out enjoying the sun and the sight of me in my (luckily) red sailing waterproofs as I limped ashore with a towel holding my head together! We were then escorted to a lovely quiet mooring where I spent a few days recovering from my ordeal and being pampered.
Another of our favourite spots was Fowey, further west along the coast beyond Plymouth. This is also a river with moorings on buoys but busier than Salcombe as cruise ships came in occasionally as well as the kaolin ships that transported the local stone to be processed. I can remember being woken one morning by the sound of large engines and when I looked out through the porthole the view was filled with a huge liner turning around in the river right next to us! The town is built up a hill and I never tired of trying to capture those trees on the skyline as well as the houses in terraces and the lovely old church tower.
Further west still we come to Falmouth, a popular setting off point for Atlantic crossings where there are several marinas as well as a few buoys in the river. We always went for a buoy as marinas were twice the price and we really preferred the peace of the river, especially in the evenings when everybody had gone home. It did mean we had to pump up our dinghy and row ashore but that was always part of the fun. This boat is one of the fleet of Falmouth Quay punts which used to race up and down every weekend and some evenings. They have no motor and enormous sails which are very skillfully handled to manoeuvre the boats in close quarters and we were always on tenterhooks when they seemed to be getting too close to our boat!
I'm finishing with another little sketch of the Old Harry rocks, done in the evening of the same day as the one at the top of this post, after a lovely summer's day relaxing on board.