Friday, 3 May 2013

Round the race to Torquay

An afternoon and overnight sail to Torquay. The main concern in a trip from Weymouth to Torquay is to be sure to keep well away from the tide race south of Portland Bill. This is an area of turbulent water where tidal eddies meet and the sea floor shelves up. It has a formidable reputation as one of the worst races in the world and many ships have been lost in it.
In Anne Davidson's lively book 'Final Voyage' there is a very sobering description of how she and her husband got caught in the race in a 70ft fishing boat with disastrous results. An old pilot book used to say that 'small vessels - eg destroyers- have been overwhelmed and lost in the race'. Destroyers now are bigger than they used to be but nevertheless you have to treat Portland race with respect. We were motoring in a flat calm just before slack water a couple of miles south of the race and saw nothing, but then that's what you hope to see. We did see a lifeboat on trial going straight through the area of the race at 28knots, apparently unharmed, which must give confidence in the product.
We got more wind in the evening and made a slow, close hauled passage to Torquay, arriving just after sunrise and stepping ashore to the English Riviera with its palm trees and tulips.