Research your landing
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