Sailing in Salcombe

You haven’t really seen Salcombe until you’ve explored it from the sea. Discover the dramatic coast, visit hidden coves or hop onto a secluded beach. Sailing in Salcombe experiences can vary from traditional Salcombe Yawls to high-tech speed boats, if you book the VIP treatment of our Salcombe Luxe service level with Salcombe Finest, we can organise a charter to suit your group with some seriously cool toys.

There are oodles of boat activities available ranging from sailing to coasteering adventures, to stand-up paddle boarding. Let’s go through the options for your stay in Salcombe.

Salcombe Sailing at it’s Best

Sailing in Salcombe is incredibly interesting (and at times frustrating!) as conditions vary along the estuary; the wind swirls around the coves and bounces off cliffs plus the tides throw in an extra level of complexity.

But when the sun is glistening on the water and the wind fills your sails it is positively magical to be sailing in these waters.

Operating from Whitestrand pontoon in the centre of town, Salcombe Dinghy Sailing offer flexible sailing to suit any group size or sailing ability. Their fleet includes Wayfarers, Lasers and Optimists. The business is run by a young dynamic duo who also offer sailing tuition.

For those seeking a more traditional sailing experience, you can sail a Salcombe Yawl with the hugely talented Fred Hitchen (nicknamed Scratch – inspired).

Part of our Fleet is the stunning Sailfunk. Why not have a luxury sailing experience aboard a skippered yacht or catamaran around the South Coast and beyond. Fab food and wine can be arranged with their onboard team.

The Salcombe Yacht Club runs regular regattas for all classes of boats. They also warmly welcome visiting yachtsmen so get thee to the bar for rum! The views from the yacht club terrace have to be some of the best in Salcombe which is just perfect for watching the racing.

Power Boating

Many visitors to Salcombe (and locals) have powerboats – they give you the freedom to travel to less busy beaches, explore the area at leisure and enjoy water sports such as waterskiing and donutting (for the uninitiated, this means sitting in a rubber ring and holding on for dear life whilst you get pulled behind a boat).

Powerboat courses are becoming more popular which can only make Salcombe a safer place to be. If you are interested in learning more there are two excellent companies for you to consider: Salcombe Power Boats and Sea N Shore.

Boat Hire in Salcombe

For an adventure, a little independence from the ferries or even fishing, you can hire a boat for the duration of your stay in Salcombe. The boats are excellent quality; you are kitted out with lifejackets and have a good safety briefing before your maiden voyage.

For a more traditional experience we recommend hiring Ibis who is a 21ft harbour launch. Or for boats with outboard engines there is a lovely couple that run Whitestrand Boat Hire who are happy to help or the fishmongers in Salcombe have another string to their bow with Salcombe Boat Hire.


Crabbing is still a big industry in Salcombe; you must try some handpicked Salcombe crab during your visit as this is a delicious local speciality. But if you would like to reel in your own meal, there are many varieties of fish to be caught in the South Devon waters: bass, cod, pollock, ray, sole, plaice, shark, conger eel and mackerel. Offering some of the best angling charters in these waters is Salcombe Angling or a mackerelling trip with Whitestrand Boat Hire.

angling sailing

Water-skiing & Wakeboarding

For water-skiing, wakeboarding, and other water sports activities from an RYA powerboat training centre we highly recommend using Sea N Shore or Adventure South.


There isn’t usually any surf in Salcombe (apart from when there is stormy weather in the winter). The closest we get to surfing are the waves crashing onto The Hipple at low tide. However, a 20 minute drive from Salcombe to Bantham will get you in the midst of the action. There are two surf schools at Bantham both offering excellent group and 1-to-1 tuition. For the surf-supporters there is a good café onsite for watching radicals moves…

Check out Bantham Surfing Academy and Discovery Surf School for more information.

Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayaking is a great way to see the estuary at a leisurely pace and requires no previous experience. Using tandem kayaks make it a sociable sport, and if there is a group of you wishing to explore, you can get a guide who will not only show you around the estuary, but provide hot/cold drinks and snacks, plus they will take lots of photographs with their waterproof camera. We really like the team at Sea Kayak Salcombe based at South Sands.

For a more independent approach, you can simply rent a kayak on a weekly basis from the team at Sea Kayak Salcombe. The real gem is that they will deliver to your Salcombe holiday home.

sea kayaking sailing

Stand-up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

This sport has grown exponentially over the last few years, and the Salcombe – Kingsbridge estuary is so perfect for the sport given the flat water up and down the many creeks. In the light of the summer evenings, paddling around the estuary is sublime. Sea Kayak Salcombe based at South Sands and Waterborn is based in Kingsbridge.

The Salcombe Finest Fleet

The ultimate way to enjoy and appreciate Salcombe is by exploring it from the sea. Discover the dramatic coastline in this area, visit hidden coves or hop onto a secluded beach. From traditional Salcombe yawls to high-tech speed boats, we can organise a charter to suit your group.

At Salcombe Finest we are proud to have a fleet of wonderful vessels exclusively for your enjoyment.


Salcombe Yawl Y27

The Salcombe Yawl has a history which goes back at least 200 years. The Yawl originated from the small fishing boats used in the Salcombe estuary which had to be capable of sailing to windward in strong tides out of the estuary and beyond to work crab and lobster pots. They were later known as Licensed Waterman’s boats and raced in the annual Regattas.

The Salcombe Yawl is built using the clinker construction method with steamed ribs and frames and fastened with copper nails and roves. The Centre Plate is cast from bronze and to add extra stability there is a bronze shoe running the length of the centre board case. She carries a generous sail area making for exhilarating sailing.

The Yawl has now evolved into one of the keenest local racing classes in the British Isles. Regattas and Open Meetings can attract upward of 30-40 boats. The designs come off the boards of Stone, Taylor, Gibbens, Atfield, Howlett and Morrison.

You can learn to sail a traditional wooden Salcombe Yawl & explore the beautiful Salcombe estuary in the company of a local fisherman & expert yawl sailor. Or just be taken for a leisurely sail around the harbour in safe hands.

Prices from £90 for half day.

Sailfunk Yacht Charter

Pitched at the Mr & Mrs Smith’s of the world on water, Sailfunk is a boutique yacht charter company for both the corporate and leisure sailor. The yacht has been designed to be incredibly luxurious and easy to sail, allowing you to be hands-on or waited on; it’s entirely up to you.

During the summer months, Sailfunk is based in Salcombe and is available for a luxury yacht charters. Think of it as your own boutique on the water. Enjoy a great day or few days on the water, letting yourself unwind and completely relax. Settle in, let the kids stretch their legs and then make the toughest decision of the day, which fabulous place to eat.

Lunch will be a beautiful buffet created by a local deli, the afternoon can be spent racing, relaxing or roving around the bays and coves, on or off the boat. You might visit Hope Cove and anchor up for dinner or moor up in the stunning Salcombe estuary, you decide. A cool drink whilst watching the glorious sunsets. And we’ll do it all again tomorrow.

Copper Miss

Copper Miss was originally built for Mr R Proudlock of Hope Cove (a director of Redheugh Iron & Steel Co Ltd) by Dornom & Sons in Salcombe in 1940. The final invoice was presented to Mr Proudlock 4 months later at a cost of £205 plus £11 for the pram dinghy.

She housed a petrol 12 HP twin Britt engine which sounded wonderful but as they became older they became less and less reliable.

Copper Miss found her way into Salcombe Harbour and was used as a crab fishing boat by well-known crab fisherman Percy Cudd. He was renowned for going out as far as Bolt Head in whatever the weather; he always pulled his pots, was completely fearless and a legend in his time.

The Allen family acquired the vessel from Percy in 1966 for £500 cash at which time the boat was in a state of complete disrepair and was looking completely forlorn. She was sent to the yard of well-known Salcombe boat builder Edward Hanniford on Island Street and was extensively restored over a period of approximately 1 year at a cost of £1200.

Over the last 45 years or so, the family have immensely enjoyed using the boat around the harbour and keep it to the highest levels to maintain the marine folklore surrounding this classic clinker built boat (she one of the oldest left in the harbour).

Following the retirement of old salt Edward Hannaford, Mike Wrigley took over the business and continues to maintain Copper Miss at the uppermost levels. In her 74th year of sailing she is going strong and cutting a fine line in the South Hams waters.

You can come on-board this classic launch for an estuary cruise, champagne and oysters or a trip up one of the many creeks along the estuary to hidden villages and British country pubs. Cruise around the harbour with Captain Scrap and his first mate HG.


Ribquest 12-seater rib

These 6.25 and 8 metre red ribs go seriously fast on the high seas! The Ribquests are excellent for high-speed 007 style rib rides and are perfect for water-skiing, wakeboarding, and banana riding behind. RYA powerboat training courses are also offered.

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