Every year since I was born, I have been to sunny shimmering Salcombe for my holidays. Winter and summer have their own special memories; even in winter, I can be sunny and warm, just right for picnics and walks along the rugged, panoramic coast paths. My favourite time is during the Salcombe Regatta, held during the first two weeks of August. Two weeks of sand, sailing, swimming and snorkelling! Starting at the busy quay at Kingsbridge, the boat is rigged and ready for the sail round to Mill Bay. The sail round is full of moving obstacles, moored boats, fishing boats and the One and only Kingsbridge ferry. I have to stay way clear of that, as it just does not get out of your way! Have to keep the small dinghy safe for racing.
As my dad and I sail past the moored boats, I try to tuck into fruit pastels and a drink. I hear a screeching sudden shout and have to tuck, just missing a crazy motorboat that just isn’t going to give way to sail. Words are spoken on the boat; stay on the boat. !!! OOPS!!! Approaching the Salcombe Harbor is magnificent, and all I can think of is the Venis Cafe at this point and stopping off for one of their delicious Hot Chocolates. We get nearer to the sandy shore, and as soon as it looks shallow enough, I jump out into the freezing water and hold the bow of the boat and then pull it up onto the golden sand, missing all the swimmers, buckets and spade and of course the Salcombe Ferry. Must not get anywhere near that, as we would be in big trouble!!
Arriving on Mill bay is a real joy. Families with children of all ages can come to this amazing sandy bay. When I was younger, and even now, I loved to dig holes and go damming. At this point, I must mention that dams are built at the top end of the beach every year. Every year we are told off by the same old “GRUMPY” man who does not think it’s the right thing to do, but the owner of the beach doesn’t mind as the dams are always broken at the end of each tiring day, and the water is free to run down to the sea again. This happened year after year as one of my friend’s grandparents remembered doing the same thing. No Harm done then, eh!
Across the shimmering estuary from East Portlemouth, you can see the brightly painted houses of Salcombe. It’s a must to get into the inflatable tender and motor over and get a warm pasty from the bakers. Then walk up to the glorious Yacht Club and sign on to do the racing. Walking through the busy, winding streets of Salcombe, you pass all kinds of different shops. People rushing here and there going about their businesses, either getting ready to sail or just eating a delicious Salcombe Dairy Ice cream overlooking the crowded harbour. Racing at Salcombe can be hazardous, to say the least. Imagine you are on the start line with another 40 or so boats, the loud gun goes off, and boats are tacking everywhere. The shouting of everyone can be heard from the beach because of the loud echo. The boats to watch out for are the Yawls as they do not give way, but once you have started and away from the rest, it is such a fabulous feeling with the breeze on your face.
Sometimes the wind gets very strong, and you can see boats capsizing everywhere and people trying to clamber back into their boats and carry on. Yes, I capsized as well, splash, splutter, crash went the sails into the water, but fortunately, the boat came upright again, and the race continued. Salcombe is full of surprises. Once my mirror dinghy went for an adventure of its own. Somehow one evening, the boat slipped into the water with the high tide and floated all by itself out of the harbour and out into the open sea towards Plymouth!!!! At this point, we did not know where it had gone until we heard on the radio that a dinghy had been toed back to Salcombe by a huge trawler. Amazingly enough, the damage was minimal, and we could sail the last race of the regatta.
Other activities can be found during the action-packed two weeks. Finding the “Blunders” in the shop windows, waiters and waitresses race, greasy pole, the mud race, yes it muddy all right!!! Even if you do not sail, Salcombe has something to offer for everyone; crabbing is great fun, just sitting on the quay with your line dangling down, waiting for the unexpected crab, plop. So in it goes, into the bucket. The last count was 36!!!! It’s a wonder the butchers don’t get fed up with people asking for meat for crabbing, but they don’t; year in and year out is the same request, ” Please may I have some bait for crabbing?” “Yes, of course”, says the butcher smiling. Another highlight of Salcombe is THE BIG HIPPO. Out on the bodyboard on the sandbank, when the tide is coming in. I love it as the huge waves come crashing in and carry you along until you flip over. Visiting Salcombe year after year is like experiencing a new adventure every time.