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Hugh Marriage Posts

The Mighty Amazing

Last June I wrote about how, in 1819, Halwell Point was the first place where pleasure boats were recorded in Salcombe Harbour. I have been marvelling at a huge stretch of sheltered water, three to five miles across and as far as the eye can see from left to right, without irritating rocks, hazards or navigational marks. It has a 3-knot current flows from West to East, balanced by a warm, steady, wind from East to West; and it conveniently…

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Breaking the record at over 30mph

This time last year I wrote about the amazing achievement of Thomas Coville who had just completed a single-handed, non-stop, round the world in Sodebo Ultim in 49 days, at an average speed of 24 knots. In December, another Frenchman sailing single-handed, François Gabart, knocked an extraordinary six days off that record with a circumnavigation in 42 days and 16 hours. Gabart sailed his Ultime trimaran MACIF (named after his sponsors) so fast that he got within spitting distance of…

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Harbour Captain wanted

The breaking news is, of course, that, after 3½ years, Adam Parnell is leaving Salcombe to become Head of Tor Bay Harbour Authority and Tor Bay Harbour Master. Like Salcombe, Tor Bay is a municipal harbour (Torbay Council is the Harbour Authority) but geographically it is much more open than Salcombe. The harbour covers Brixham, Torquay and Paignton, each with its own Harbour Master, has 22 miles of coastline and 16 square miles of open sea, sheltered from prevailing south…

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Ambitious plans for Egremont and the Plymouth Princess

The latest news from the Egremont Trust is that the project has grown to being over £1m (not yet fully secured, but “close”) and, besides the creation of en-suite bedrooms, would now include a sewage treatment plant (to avoid polluting the Harbour), a desalination plant (because the demand for water was likely to be greater than the shore supply) and two generators (because the electricity supply would otherwise be insufficient). Also included would be new pontoons, which would be built…

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What to do about “being extremely busy at the moment”?

The season is finishing with quite a windy spell although, fortunately, nothing compared to the devastation caused by hurricanes and earthquakes in the Caribbean and Mexico. These are, of course, related: powerful storms exert huge forces on the earth’s surface and these trigger the movements which we experience as earthquakes. Climate change is more serious business than a bit of global warming. Nearer home, there is the tricky business of the telephones in the Harbour Office. It has become quite…

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The ins and outs of rip tides

One of the books I picked up at the Ways with Words at Dartington was William Thomson’s Book of Tides. This is about the tides around the UK, including the Severn bore, whirlpools and tsunamis (yes, there were tsunamis in the UK in 1755 and 2011). For me, one of the most interesting chapters was on rip tides. Waves crash onto beaches and the water that flows up the beach has to flow back again, taking the easiest route which…

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Summertime and the living is easy

Summer is here and the weather has been so hot that the sea water temperatures have already reached over 20°C – something which doesn’t normally happen until September. On 16 July it was 21.7°C in Inner Hope at low tide and on 17 July it was 20.5°C at South Sands at low tide (in spite of the cold water from the stream). Seas as warm as this give rise to high winds and thunderstorms, and we have had those as…

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The plight of distant-water fishing crews

It’s the time of year again when Dartington Hall hosts the Ways with Words festival. This year it is my pleasure to interview Alan Johnson, the union leader who became Home Secretary, about the third volume of his autobiography The Long and Winding Road. This covers the period when Alan became an MP and a Minister. Alan was a Londoner who found himself nominated for the safe Labour seat of Hull West and Hessle, a constituency covering inner-city Hull and…

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What about “anything that floats”?

“A picturesque wood … forms a sinuous shelter.. This is Halwell Wood, in the parish of South Pool, and belongs to Treby Hele Hayes, esq, the lord of the manor of South Pool, whose seat, called Halwell, lies about half a mile therefrom, but not in view of the water, while his flotilla of pleasure boats is protected from storms in (Halwell Creek)”. So writes the local historian, Hawkins, in 1819 in what is believed to be the earliest reference…

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