Easily forgotten as you hoist the main for a jaunt to the Exmouth beach café or an afternoon's downriver spinnaker practice with your crew - but did you sign out on the Day Sailing log?

The log is located above the seat in the Committee Room porch just to the left of the Boat Shed, and the Club would like to remind all members going out for a leisure sail to sign out on departure and back in on return. The majority of leisure sailors do observe this formality, but if it slips your mind occasionally, or seems an irritating extra, may we ask you to add it now to your launching countdown? It's in your own interest to remember, in two ways.

Firstly safety - if you should experience a major mishap, the details in the sailing log will give a person discovering your empty launching trolley at dusk some chance of providing useful information to the emergency services. Please in all cases sign in on your return to say you are safely back.

Jim Vallis

There was a good turnout of dinghies and cats on 5 August for the now annual cruise in company to Exmouth Beach in memory of former Club member Jim Vallis, whose enthusiasm originally brought the regular SYC dinghy cruises into being.

Our thanks to Elaine Beer for a great set of photos of the occasion, which can be viewed here.

The Exe is one of the best rivers for sailing in the West Country. It’s wide (3/4 mile at HW), it’s long (4 miles inside the Warren). The hinterland is either flat or undulating (ie not steep-sided) which yields better winds. It’s quiet, with very little commercial traffic. Plus, there’s access to Exmouth beach, and then the wide ocean beyond the safe water mark.

SYC organises Dinghy Cruises, with safety boat cover approx every 2-3 weeks during the season. We can cruise up-river to Topsham. Mostly we cruise down-river to Exmouth beach, or sometimes further still, out-to-sea. Our Briefing Time is by the clubhouse 45 mins before the advertised Start Time. You need to be on-the-water by the Start Time since the tide will not wait!

‘Cruising’ may give the impression of easy-going, relaxed sailing without a care in the world... and this can be substantially true, but it needs the preparation before you sail, and vigilance during your sail, and your skills need to be up to scratch.

To the young (and not-so-young) sailor: develop your sailing and seamanship skills on Free Sailing sessions. Read up about the skills needed. Ask experienced sailors for advice. Ask about courses. Buddy-up with like-minded sailor(s). Improve, and then join in on dinghy cruises. Improve further, and cruise ‘anytime’ and without safety boat cover.

The Exe has strong tidal streams, especially near Exmouth, but there are also sections of weaker flows, and back eddies, and learning where to go at any particular state of tide, is part of the fun. The river is endlessly fascinating, and it’s never the same twice. Come, learn, and cruise, and learn something about yourself too. If you get the ‘hang’ of the Exe and have the streams ‘sorted’ – please contact us a.sa.p. – we're still learning.....

Rod Freer and Mike Arstall
Joint Dinghy Cruising Captains



For those relatively new to this estuary and for those who have been around for a while.....

Here’s my quick guide to this fascinating, sometimes challenging, river. A river which repays ongoing study!

  1. Around HW we have an almost land-locked lake. Its 3-4 miles long, and about ¾ mile wide.
  2. We can sail excellent races and good cruises on this short-lived lake, provided the weather holds fair.
  3. However, HW doesn’t last that long. The river’s characteristics change throughout the tidal cycle.
  4. The river’s characteristics vary considerably depending where you are on the river.
  5. The river’s characteristics vary with wind strength and direction.
  6. Sandbanks, channels and channel depths can change with time: by river action, by storm action.
  7. Near the club, the tide can ebb or flow quickly. The rate of flow at springs can be more than double that at neaps.
  8. Downstream, around buoy 17, say, the tide can flow even quicker, and in several directions. Unused mooring buoys can get submerged by the flow.
  9. Around Warren Point (the narrowest part) it can flow so fast that you can actually HEAR the water flows tumbling over each other.
  10. Upstream of SYC, the river eventually gets narrower, and there are many moorings at Topsham. Further on, upstream of the M5 bridge, the river is ‘inland’ and is almost permanently on the ebb, with the wind effected by land or buildings.

All tidal rivers have special characters of their own. Don’t expect to immediately understand every little feature of the Exe, but try to comprehend its main characteristics and moods, so that you can make sound safety decisions.
For example, if you are venturing downstream for the first time, choose a neap tide....