Re­search your land­ing

Yachting Monthly - - EXPERT ON BOARD -

On very steep beaches waves do not break un­til the last mo­ment. Towns with open beaches have flour­ished as vir­tual har­bours, with boats slid­ing down the peb­bles into rel­a­tively deep wa­ter. In fairly calm con­di­tions, a ten­der might sim­ply ‘nose’ against the slope while its oc­cu­pants step over the bows. But take care: the beach pro­file may mean a per­son who en­ters the wa­ter fur­ther aft could plunge in up to their neck.

Other coastal set­tle­ments have jet­ties that en­able peo­ple to get ashore, at steps or lad­ders, where waves that break on the beach only move up and down against the walls. Sim­i­larly, it is of­ten eas­ier to dis­em­bark at the ver­ti­cal side of a slip­way rather than its slope. Some beaches look soft from afar but are ac­tu­ally formed of large cob­bles or boul­ders. They shift un­der­foot and you risk a twisted an­kle if you’re try­ing to hold the dinghy steady in waves.

When head­ing for a beach, the skip­per should give clear in­struc­tions, such as for ev­ery­one to step out smartly and pick up the boat. Leav­ing the beach en­tails more com­pli­ca­tions – per­haps one or two peo­ple hold­ing the dinghy against the waves while oth­ers get in with the gear - but if the oars are fee­ble the skip­per may be tempted to start the out­board while some of the crew’s legs are still in the wa­ter, which is ob­vi­ously risky.

Clovelly’s beach looks friendly when viewed from seaward, but most of it con­sists of po­ten­tially an­kle-twist­ing cob­bles and boul­ders

At Beer’s steep beach the wa­ter is of­ten fairly placid, but depths drop off quickly

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