Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Friday, 3 June 2016

Dartmouth...........river life........upstream

Blackness Marine ramp where I launched 2 hours after low water and retrieved an hour before low water.  An interesting drive down narrow country lanes - follow their route advice!
Friendly welcome, plenty of space to rig Arwen and plenty of space to park the car and trailer on a gravel road just above the ramp.

Upstream awaits Bow Creek, Stoke Gabriel and Totnes. Bow Creek leads to Tuckenhay. I left it to late to navigate up there as was my intention, so it is saved for another time. a century ago 'Tucken Hay' was a centre of industrial activity - lime, corn, malt, paper and cider, loaded onto boats which docked at the quay at high tide. Now the quayside is home to holiday cottages and a pub, The Malsters Arms - which sounds a very good reason for heading up there one lunch time!

Anchored on the outside bend off Asprington Point

Sharing the river with the tourist boats

Sharpham house with its boat house and vineyards on the red south hams soils. The house was built for a naval officer in 1770 using the prize money he gained for capturing a Spanish treasure ship.  Tours of the estate and the purchase of Sharpham wine (one of England's best vineyards but then I am biased) makes it a popular visiting point. 

It was in this stretch of the river that I actually saw leaping salmon. I know, it sounds a fishy tale but it is true. It jumped several times trying to catch flies and it wasn't a trout or a bass. Once a keen fisherman, I know my fish even if I rarely fish nowadays. I know that fishermen were once allowed to use seine nets on the Dart. Many were based in Stoke Gabriel and Duncannon. generations of the same family had licences past on down from father to son. Sadly few salmon boats remain and salmon are even rarer. A great pity. I remember watching salmon netters on the Tamar - using traditional rowing boats, a net was dropped off the back of the stern whilst a shore based fisherman held the other end. A circle was completed and then the net hauled into shore. Ancient craft now almost forgotten....a sad loss of our traditions and heritage. 

The boat house and cottage on the Sharpham estate

The exposed, derelict hulk of one of the early River dart paddle steamers, The Kingswear Castle. It lies rotting next to Fleet Mill Quay. Now unused, ships belonging to the Seymour family would unload their goods which were taken by pack horse up Fleet mill Creek to Berry Pomeroy castle. A long time ago at the start of the 19th century, silt build up made it impossible for larger ships to get up to Totnes and so the quay became very busy. Ships would anchor off Sharpham Point and smaller vessels from Fleet Mill Quay would carry the cargoes up to Totnes. 

Approaching Totnes, the channel straightens past salt marshes and reed beds. This is known as the 'Home Stretch' and this is Long Marsh. Once used as a rifle range it is now a popular walk. 

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