The Last Fling of 2016 - Dittisham to Starcross

I've spent a few nights at Dittisham, it is usually flat calm and a restful night can be had, but not last night.  We were tossed and turned for hours on end as the front passed through as we knew it would.  Waking to a beautiful autumnal morning was a surprize.

We watched the river wake up and drunk copious amounts of tea before preparing the boat for the trip back to the Exe, slipped the mooring and headed down river on a bright sunny morning.

On reaching the mouth of the Dart the sea was in an angry state, a two to three meter confused following chop greeted us and a good F6 behind us.  The next few hours until we got to the lee of Berry Head was going to be challenging.  I decided to motor round to Tor Bay as I knew the Genoa is on its last legs and I really did not want to risk it blowing out in this sea.

Commitment time, out we go and get tossed about like a small cork in a big ocean.  I helmed while Alex enjoyed the rollercoaster ride.  He started saying that there is a big one coming, but it was easier if I just helmed on feel.

We passed one boat heading west with the wind on the nose.  Their main was double reefed and in irons, clearly too risky to drop it given the conditions.

Considering it was the first time I had Aphrodite out in conditions like this I thought I did well in only misjudging the sea twice and being twice rounded up and pointing in the wrong direction!

Once we passed Berry Head the sea flattened and we were able to get the genoa out.  Crossing the bay at between six and seven knots we flew up the coast towards the Exe.

Timing the entrance to the Exe was going to be my next challenge - I wanted to get into the river as soon as possible and the tricky bit is crossing the bar at the start of the marked channel and the wind had backed to a southerly, never an easy wind to enter the river in.

As we passed Dawlish Warren I headed out to sea, much to Alex's confusion.  I wanted to give us some sea room so I could line the boat up with the channel markers safely.   On passing the safe water mark waves were breaking on the sandbanks each side of the channel, which made an interesting entrance!   On passing Exmouth Marina entrance the sea was a confused mass of what Alex, a keen kayaker, described as "haystacks".  After turning west to follow the channel up to the mooring we had calm water and could relax with a beer on the mooring.

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