SNARK is based in Dartmouth, South Devon. She is coded to travel up to 60 miles from a safe haven which means she can sail directly from Dartmouth to the north Britany. However, for this our inaugural season we are limiting our range to Topsham on the Exe estuary to the NE and Falmouth to the SW. This takes in some of the most beautiful and dramatic coastline of the UK including the headlands of Start and Bolt, the wide sandy beaches of Slapton and Tor Bay and the tidal estuary of the Exe. Particularly notable are the many navigable rivers and associated harbours on this stretch of the coast. SNARK has very shallow draft with leeboards raised and can navigate far inland with the right tidal conditions.
Exe Estuary, is sometimes called the ‘Duckpond’ because of the profusion of wild fowl that roost there, particularly in the winter. Two towns define its limits, Topsham to the north and Exmouth to the south, both pretty historic ports.
Teignmouth is a traditional seaside town with a small protected harbour, good for anchoring and taking the tender ashore for fish and chips or a candyfloss!
Tor Bay was once a favoured anchorage for the British Navy offering excellent protection, except from easterly winds. It’s coastline is described as the English Riviera and is defined by three town, all very different. Torquay to the north with its large marina full of polished motor cruisers, Paignton in the middle, a modest seaside holiday town and Brixham to the south, a flourishing fishing port, with a bustling waterfront and fish market. It is home to a number of traditional sailing trawlers now restored and run by a sailing trust.
Dartmouth, Snark’s home port, is a busy leisure port at the entrance of the Dart river, which runs inland some 12 navigable miles to Totnes the famous ‘transition’ town, home to much alternative culture. Dartmouth offers excellent shops, accommodation, restaurants and thriving art galleries and arts centre. It is the home of the Royal Naval College while just up river, accessible by ferry and steam train, is Agatha Christies old holiday home ‘Greenway’ now a National Trust property.
Salcombe, is entered through a daunting rocky bay with a shallow sand bar but once around the corner it opens up into a delightful river valley with the old town accessible from the river moorings by water taxi. Now famous for designer gin and up market restaurants, it still retains its West country charm.
Yealm, is a small river too crowded to accommodate a vessel the size of Snark, but in calm weather we can anchor in the bay and visit its excellent pubs by tender.
Plymouth Sound, the western home of the British Navy is a beautiful bay protected by a large breakwater, it offers numerous anchorages and further in Plymouth itself has a range of marinas with excellent on shore facilities and the interest of the nautical city behind.
River Tamar marks the border between Devon and Cornwall. It meanders north through rolling countryside and is navigable by Snark as far as Calstock about 18 miles inland. We do need to lower our top mast to get under the cables and bridges that span the river.
Lynher River on the other hand is unimpeded as far as St Germans but tidal so we have to watch the underwater clearance instead.
Fowey is a charming port town which tumbles down the hillside on the west side of the Fowey River. Large china clay transporters still visit the port facilities, but these only add to the busy harbour scene.
Falmouth is the first major port in the English Channel and is still visited by a large number of ships, cruise liners and yachts arriving from across the Atlantic. It is a well-found town with a range of historical sites including a fine maritime museum. The numerous pubs and cafes are taken over each year by the international sea shanty festival which coincides with the Classic Sailing regatta. In this over 150 traditional boats race around the adjacent sound, confusingly called Carrick Roads.
Carrick Roads and the River Fal run north from Falmouth through beautiful wooded valleys up to the cathedral city of Truro. The fragile oyster beds are still only be harvested by traditional sailing fishing boats. With time and a fair tide Snark can navigate up to the disused commercial quaysides of Truro or alternatively enjoy the shallow picturesque tidal creeks that open off each side of the main river.
As well as the established ports there are many minor harbours and coves along the coast offering safe anchorages where we can stay at overnight and enjoy the peace and seclusion that they offer.