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Sailing East From Plymouth

Many of the larger coastal, fishing towns are situated to the east of Plymouth. Salcombe, Dartmouth and Exmouth all provide lovely 2/3 day sailing trips, with options to extend your trips to Weymouth & Portland, Lymington and the Solent. 

Plymouth to Salcombe is an easy run of approximately 20nm. However, there are numerous anchorages and coves worthy of exploration beyond the River Yealm.

Cellar Bay, River Yealm:

Cellar Bay YealmTucked just inside the mouth of the River Yealm, this secluded spot is a perfect swimming destination in settled weather. 

Deep keeled boats will need to check tide-tables and be aware of the sandbar in the river entrance, but this really is an ideal spot for a picnic. On a rising tide, it's great to follow a stop here with a meander up the creek at Noss Mayo, where you can tie up alongside the pub at high water and sample the delights of these pretty twin villages. 

Stoke Beach, Bigbury Bay: 

Stoke Beach

At the western end of Bigbury Bay and approximately three miles to the east of the mouth of the River Yealm. With the wind in the north or west, a pretty and sheltered short stopover, and a popular yet uncrowded beach for swimming. 


Mothecombe Beach, River Erme:


Identified by the old tea-room, constructed by the owners of Flete in the last century for private picnics, Mothecombe Beach is privately owned by the Flete Estate, but is open to the public on certain days of the week. For more information, visit www.flete.co.uk. The estuary to the east and north of the beach dries at LW, but is a mecca for paddleboarding, kayaking and windsurfing, and can be explored upstream by dinghy for a couple of miles. The estuary is carefully managed as a haven for wildlife, and kingfishers, cormorants and herons are just some of the many species which may be spotted.  

The River Erme:

Wonwell Beach, eastern side of Erme River

Quite possibly one of the most unspoilt stretches of the Devon coastline, the mouth of the Erme is a beautiful location in settled conditions. There is limited depth inshore; it is possible to wade across the river from Mothecombe to Wonwell an hour either side of low tide. However, don't let this put you off as the wide expanse of flat sands are firm enough to dry out motor boats and bilge keelers, and in offshore winds, an anchorage can be found on the western side of the estuary mouth.

Between the Erme and the River Avon, the cliffs are spectacular, backing onto mainly National Trust farmland. There are a small number of offlying rocks, so a large scale chart of the area is as ever, recommended. Another 3nm to the east will be found Burgh Island, which is always best passed to the south.

Burgh Island, the River Avon, and Bantham:

Mouth of the Avon at LW, showing tidal causeway to Burgh Island

The entrance to the River Avon and Bantham is tidal, but well worth exploring, particularly a couple of hours before HW. A visit to the Sloop Inn at Bantham should never be passed over, but you'll need to dry your boat on the beach as there are no dedicated landing facilities.

Whilst on passage from Plymouth to Salcombe and beyond, Burgh Island tends to blend into the coastline, but in a small boat and settled weather, is well worth a closer look. Separated from the mainland by a tidal causeway and famous for its Art Deco style hotel, a favourite of Agatha Christie, this really is one of the gems of the South Devon coastline.


Cruising distances from Plymouth Yacht Haven

River Yealm (Newton Ferrers & Noss Mayo) 6 n.m.
Salcombe Estuary 24 n.m.
Dartmouth 37 n.m.
Torbay 41 n.m.
Exmouth 53 n.m.
Portland Bill 75 n.m.

Please note that this information should only be used as an informal guide to destinations, and is not a substitute for recognized pilotage and navigational information.


For organised Cruises in Company and other social sailing events, visit and join the Cattewater Cruising Club. www.cattewatercruisingclub.org.uk