At the last moment South Hams District Council decided to repair Jubilee Pier after all. The boulders have been re-pointed and the whole structure has been bound with a stainless steel band, anchored in some way into the middle. What is more, South West Water are looking into the possibility of removing their sewerage tank from inside the pier, which may make it possible to fill the void with something more structural. All this should do for another five years – which is as good as it gets as the pier just sits on the sand and moves about considerably. At least the Council seems to have realised that the pier is an essential piece of harbour infrastructure. And this means that both the Rivermaid and the East Portlemouth ferries will be able to use the pier for the foreseeable future.
In another interesting development, the newly-renamed Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company (formerly Riverlink) will be running into Salcombe this year on eight Mondays, when the neap tides means there is too little water for them to be able to do their regular trip up to Totnes. The restoration of this ferry link with Dartmouth is very welcome and the trip past the Skerries, Start Point and Prawle Point should be stunning. The ferries will arrive in Salcombe at 1145 and leave again for Dartmouth two hours later. The first trip will be on 10 May, with a cream tea on the return leg. www.dartmouthrailriver.co.uk
As you enter Salcombe you will soon see four new navigation buoys. At the moment, after you have passed Bass Rock and Wolf Rock buoys, you are guided in by Blackstone, Pound Stone, Old Harry and Castle beacons. These are lights powered from solar panels on the top of poles set in concrete on their rocks – which are difficult, dangerous and expensive to maintain. The lights in Blackstone, in particular, have become very unreliable. The Harbour Board will continue to maintain the beacons as long as it can but, before the May Bank Holiday, is putting down four buoys – Pound Stone and Castle (red cans) and Blackstone South and Blackstone North (green conicals) – to replace them. Crews can then use both beacons and buoys for a time until the beacons fail or are taken out of service. Buoys are much cheaper and easier for the Harbour staff to maintain and, in many ways, preferable to beacons anyway.