Cruising Guide: Devon & Cornwall

By our travel expert ROB


The best way to spend 10 days sailing around Devon and Cornwall

Sailing Area

The south coast of Devon and Cornwall is a varied and rewarding cruising area with an exposed rugged coastline interspersed with sheltered extensive rivers and particularly the large natural harbours at Plymouth and Falmouth.

Suggested 10-day Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive in Plymouth

Arrive in Plymouth, provision and take over the yacht, then relax on your yacht before setting out for an evening out exploring the city’s many pubs and restaurants

Day 2 – Plymouth to River Yealm (10nms)

Cross to the west of the broad expanse of Plymouth Sound, on beyond the breakwater to anchor off Cawsands for lunch. Later set off for a short passage to River Yealm (6nms to the east) with the aim of picking up a mooring buoy or berthing alongside on a mid-stream pontoon for the night. You will need a dinghy (ideally with an outboard engine) if you want to go ashore or explore the river further upstream.

Day 3 – River Yealm to Dartmouth (32nms)

Depart the River Yealm following the coast round passed Salcombe and on around Start Point (hint: check the tidal streams around Start Point the rate can be >2.5kts against you!). Once passed the headland continue through Start Bay to enter the River Dart. In the river, there are several options for berthing/mooring both on the west bank (Dartmouth) and the east bank (Kingswear) with ferries and water taxis to take you to either place

Day 4 – Dartmouth to Salcombe (16nms)

Depart Dartmouth for the relatively short passage to Salcombe (again check the tidal stream times round Start Point before you set off!). Salcombe is a busy popular river in the summer season. There are extensive moorings and some mid-stream pontoons. If you want somewhere quieter to stay go upriver and into “The Bag”. Again, having a dinghy onboard would be useful.

Day 5 – Salcombe to Polpero (35nms)

This is a longer passage to a renowned picturesque Cornish village to the west of Plymouth. It is possible to enter the small harbour but it dries, therefore, it is not suitable for overnight. However, outside the harbour there are 4 mooring buoys that don’t dry. Cruising guides recommend mooring “for and aft” to avoid swinging across the channel. If unable to secure a mooring continue along the coast for 5nms to Fowey

Day 6 – Polpero to Helford River (30nms)

Today’s passage to the Helford River is pretty straight forward. Once in the river make for the visitor’s moorings off Helford Point. Again, use your dinghy to go ashore for activities ashore.

Day 7 – Helford River to Mylor / Falmouth (10nms)

A short passage today into the River Fal estuary (Carrick Roads) and upstream to the quiet but extensive marina/moorings at Mylor. Or if you prefer to visit the Falmouth town you can seek a berth at Falmouth Yacht Haven

Day 8 – Mylor / Falmouth to Fowey (23nms)

Fowey is another very popular west country destination with its very steep streets leading down from the car park above the town to the bustling centre by the waterfront. For that reason, by far the best way to visit Fowey is by sea! There are a large number of moorings (some fore and aft in the “Pill”) plus some mid-stream pontoons, even so at the height of the season the available berths often fill up by late afternoon.

Day 9 – Fowey to Plymouth (25nms)

Return to Plymouth Sound and pick up a mooring buoy off Drake’s Island for your final night on board.

Day 10 – Back to base

Take a morning sail from your night berth back to the charter base to hand over.

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