The flooding spring tide carries my little yacht Coral up the river Tamar, through the wide and busy Hamoaze, where warships are moored in the dockyards and the big chain ferries clank across between Devonport and Torpoint, to the confluence with the St Germans River, a wide expanse of water with extensive mudflats and tidal lakes just below Brunel’s famous railway bridge. I steer Coral round the marker buoy into the narrow channel up this tributary, deep enough for her after half-tide.

After about two miles, the river narrows and the banks steepen as it sweeps round a big curve. On the outside ...


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