Hanging Around...

Day 9 Salcombe to Brixham – 29th May – 20.3 nm

The forecast wasn't too good, a strong westerly wind along with yesterday’s swell still rolling through. Conditions were forecast to worsen as the morning progressed and then there was an easing late in the day.  I hadn't made it around Prawle Point yesterday, it was put to the back of my mind with a “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” sort of thought.  The bridge was here now.

The plan was to hang in there for the first hour or so, the swell and wind would be hard work along the cliffs. But once I rounded Start Point and headed north, I would paddle in the shadow of the headland, hopefully the swell would drop and the fetch would be less there too.  The wind would rattle across Start Bay, but we would cross that bridge when we came to it... There were options in the off-shore wind, and I could scratch my way up the coastline if I had to.

That was the plan.

A quick look at the early morning conditions meant a revised plan came into place – back to bed.

Late in the morning we climbed along Start Point, dodging the squalls to take a look. Good decision, I was glad not to be out there.
 The rest of the day was spent hanging around, waiting for the change in the tide and the weather window to combine. Like the ‘options days’, this was something that would soon become routine on the trip.

Eventually the tide dictated that a decision was required, not that easy to make in the sheltered peace of Salcombe Bay. Of course I could paddle out, take a look and paddle back if things weren't too good – oh yes, that old chestnut.

One and quarter hours and 6 nm later I reached Start Point, surfed through a gap in the rocks and into the swell free Start Bay – a ‘Phew, glad that’s over’ moment. The swell had grown to like me, it curved round and headed north too, but thankfully it stayed out of the bay. The wind didn't seem too bad so I headed north, straight-line to Scabbacombe Head.  Mid-bay was pretty breezy though, I reflected that scratching along the coastline might have been the better option.

The wait for the wind meant that I ran out of tide just short of Scabbacombe, it was a bit of a slog for while but eventually I reached the cliffs. Sheltered from both the wind and the flow now, it was a pleasant paddle for the final miles to land, as the light faded, on the stony beach at Brixham.