A TRIP TO THE WEST COUNTRY ON AN AXOPAR 37
This summer one of our owners took their Axopar 37 to the west country for their summer break, below is their write-up of the trip.
Axopar 37, Sundance West Country trip August 2022
My excitement was palpable! At last, I was heading down to the South West from our home port of Hamble on board Sundance, our new Axopar 37.
The passage planning was complete and on Tuesday 9 August I departed Port Hamble with my brother-in-law Ian to start our voyage. My wife doesn’t like long sea passages so she was to join us later, travelling by train.
From Hamble to Dartmouth
However, she needn’t have worried on this occasion. The forecast was for light north easterlies and a slight sea. The forecast was borne out and the smooth sea enabled us to maintain a cruising speed in the late 20s.
My passage plan was ultra-cautious and gave plenty of berth to the noted races and potential overfalls off St Alban’s Head and Portland Bill but I don’t think they were at all apparent. However, we stuck to the plan and made very good progress towards Dartmouth, which was scheduled to be our overnight stop. We were approaching there mid-afternoon and as we had made such good time we did consider filling up with fuel and then continuing to Falmouth, our ultimate destination. We considered diverting to Torquay where there is an MDL marina and we could take advantage of our fuel discount, but we decided not to and so went into the mouth of the River Dart.
We saw two pods of dolphins on our passage, both in Lyme Bay. The first pod played in our wake for a while but the second was some way off. I’d always wanted to see them and this was a first for me, really exciting! As we entered the river the beauty of the place came flooding back and we decided to stick to plan A and berth overnight there.
After calling Darthaven Marina in Kingswear and they were able to give us a very convenient overnight berth. We took a ferry over to Dartmouth for a couple of beers while the sun was still on Dartmouth and we ended up having an early supper there. We put some fuel in the boat from the fuel barge but didn’t fill up as the price was £2.51 per litre – and they only sold E5 high octane fuel which seems very odd.
Dartmouth to Falmouth
On Wednesday it was another beautiful morning and having made use of the marina facilities (good showers and perfectly serviceable) we left Dartmouth at 0845 to continue to Falmouth. Again the sea was slight, maybe a little less so than Tuesday, but no obstacle to Sundance. We arrived at Falmouth, having passed close to Eddystone Rocks and its lighthouse.
Before leaving home, we had pre-reserved a berth in Mylor Marina which I know and which is in a lovely location. We went and watched the Red Arrows display from just off St Anthony’s Head which was spectacular, as usual, and then had supper on the front of the boat back in the marina.
Fun from Mylor Marina
The next day my younger sister also arrived, so four of us went over to the Helford. We found a sheltered place to anchor and they swam while I took out our inflatable canoe and went for a paddle. The water was a great temperature. Later we went up the river and turned up towards Port Navas, admiring the secluded properties, before turning back towards Mylor.
The following few days were spent enjoying the exceptional weather, both on and off Sundance. We met a friend who has an amazing house in the middle of Falmouth and had drinks with another who joined us in Mylor with his boat.
On Friday we had a lazy day with the arrival of my wife in the evening to look forward to. Her train was due to arrive in Truro at 6:40pm, roughly coinciding with a very high tide. So we formed a plan to motor a long way up the Fal, to Malpas, and to meet her there with one of my sisters picking her up from the station. We were getting updates on the lateness of the train and eventually, it arrived at Truro, some 1 ½ hours late. We had managed to find space on a visitor pontoon at Malpas and enjoyed a pint in the Heron pub. Jan then arrived and we motored back down the Fal, navigation lights on, to Mylor.
Return to Hamble
Eventually we needed to return to Hamble and this time my wife and I were on board. We set off from Mylor bound for Dartmouth. Once again the weather was perfect. We needed fuel and, unable to get any in Falmouth, we aimed for Plymouth and the Queen Annes Battery marina where we took on just under 400 litres and emptied their petrol tank! Hopefully they were due for another delivery later that day.
We then went to Salcombe, found a visitor buoy and went ashore for a light lunch. Although very crowded ashore, Salcombe is still beautiful and easier to enjoy when you know you can escape the crowds back on board. We left after a couple of hours and were not charged a visitor stay fee which was great. We continued to Dartmouth and again stayed at Darthaven marina. Having secured Sundance on a pontoon we took the lower car ferry to Dartmouth and went to the Dart Hotel for sundowners before searching for sustenance. We settled on a good pub and pizzas before returning to Sundance.
The next day we set off to Portland marina. The weather was murky and after a while, we couldn’t see the Lyme bay coastline. But the sea was still smooth and we made good time to the marina and easy docking on the visitor pontoons. They are a long way from shore! We spent the afternoon seeing a little of Portland before an evening meal at the marina restaurant and then turning in.
The next day we were going back to the Solent. I had established that the army were not firing off Kimmeridge so we kept close inshore all the way back. The MCI at St Albans Head confirmed no race present so we kept our course and enjoyed the views of the cliffs from close up. It wasn’t long before we were in the Lymington River and confirming our berth at Berthon marina for a few nights.
One last day with friends in the Solent we picked up a buoy in Newtown River for a relaxing picnic lunch.
Our holiday was over, we had brilliant weather, got to know Sundance very well and will be looking forward to more of the same!
Below are some pictures of our trip.
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