The first leg of the Yachting World west country cruise started from Torquay. Sue Pelling joined the boat at Salcombe for a fun-packed cruise to Plymouth

Having reached Salcombe last Wednesday on the Yachting World West Country Cruise (see report: and made the most of the local hospitality at this popular Devon village, an extremely quiet and jaded crew opened the hatches of Sunbeam to welcome me onboard on Thursday morning for the next leg of the cruise. Unfortunately, the weather experienced on the first three days was about to change with a forecast low approaching from the west. Thankfully however, despite a bit of cloud and the odd splattering of rain we were still able to continue our exploration of the harbour and take in all-important Salcombe shopping experience!

Sadly we had to say goodbye to Claire Armstrong whose time was up to head back to the office. For me, however, the cruise had only just started, and with crewmates including David Glenn, Fiona Scully and Richard Langdon, something told me I was in for a fun time.

Lunch, cream teas and a swift half or two in the King’s Arms, followed by a walk along the cliffs towards Bolt Head set us up for the gastronomic delight Richard had prepared back onboard. Chicken wrapped in salmon in a fantastic creamy sauce, served with local white wine purchased from Sharpham Vineyard on the Dart the previous day, was the perfect end to a really fun day.

After an interesting night having been woken up at 0300 by rattling halyard and rainwater dripping from the hatch I’d left open above my head, I was up with others at sunrise for some more Salcombe exploring before setting off on our next leg. Thankfully the low had passed through overnight as forecast leaving us with a sparkling summer’s day and a fresh breeze.

We left our mooring at 1230 and motored to South Sands Bay and hoisted the sails. With a forecast building breeze we put in one reef and sailed out round Bolt Head. Out of the relative shelter of Salcombe the 20kts plus breeze hit us on the nose as we turned the corner westwards. It couldn’t have been better with the sun shining, the sea rolling in from the Channel and the fresh breeze to power us upwind to our next destination – Newton Ferrers. Even with one reef in the main, Sunbeam sailed well in the conditions. She was incredibly light on the helm which made pounding through the big Channel swell surprisingly comfortable. As the wind abated on our approach to the mouth of the Yealm we shook out the reef and enjoyed the final hour or so under full sail.

Having lined up the navigation marks on the hill and the corresponding buoys marking the bar on the approach to Newton Ferrers, we dropped sails and headed up river. Fortunately, despite the popularity of this location, we found a berth on the visitors’ pontoon on the port side of the harbour in time to enjoy more of Fi’s special cocktails as the sun set over the tranquil village of Newton Ferrers.

After a short row ashore we were keen to check out the local hostelries and see if they lived up to their glowing reputation. Fortunately we had the perfect guide in Mr Glenn who put his many years’ experience working as a reporter on the local newspaper into practice. A swift, purposeful walk along the river led us to the Dolphin which, according to our guide, hadn’t changed at all. “I can’t believe it; it’s still exactly the same, the same charm, atmosphere and the beer is just as good,” said Glenn. To our delight the food was excellent too with local scallops, prawns and lightly battered cod some of the best we’d tasted.

After a brief excursion further upriver and across the causeway to Noss Mayo in the pitch black we found ourselves in another delightful drinking house – The Ship. Short though the drink was – because we had to get back across the causeway before the tide turned, it was a great end to yet another perfect day.

With barely a breath of wind the next morning (Saturday) we had to motor round to Plymouth in time to hand over the boat to Elaine Bunting and team for the next leg of the cruise.