Why getting off the beaten track doesn't need to be difficult. Welcome to the Summer 2019 issue of Yachting Monthly, on sale 20 June
Comfortable marinas lay a few miles down river, but some of the best days of last summer for us were spent anchored in the upper reaches of the River Dart. Kingfishers flitted from the oak trees shading the shallows and nothing but the occasional fish broke the surface of the silent water. We were hardly off the beaten track at all, but we felt like the emperors of our very own wilderness. These are the moments we reminisce about once summer is over.
While cruising sailors have long set sail to escape the strictures of land, we don’t have to eschew all creature comforts or voyage to the far-flung fjords of Greenland to find wilderness. It is more a mindset to look for small deviations from the popular routes and a preparedness to explore at the limits of the pilot book. Dag Pike and Vyv Cox make the case (p48) for going wild close to home as well as further afield. After all, a night at anchor up a silent creek may only be a mile from a busy harbour but it probably gets little more than a passing nod in the local guide.
Having said that, some places lend themselves to exploration more than others. Jonty Pearce finds a wealth to discover in the Outer Hebrides (p64) and Jason Lawrence sails across the Channel to find the hidden corners of Brittany, of which there are many (p70). If you’re worried about spending a night in a rarely used anchorage, Christopher Smith has a better way of calculating how much chain to put out so you can anchor more confidently (p38) in any conditions.
We are creatures of comfort, however, and if you’ve had enough of these spartan ways after a day or two, the good news is that a hot shower and pub meal can be just round the corner and you’ll know that you’ve really earned them.