Sailing and Water Sports in Seaton Bay.
Yachting, cruising, dinghy sailing, canoeing, racing, boat fishing, motorboats,water skiing and wind surfing all take place in Seaton Bay.
Surfing is possible, but surf conditions are not often favorable, as Lyme Bay is sheltered from the direct force of the Atlantic rollers.
Jet skis are prohibited in the harbour by order of the East Devon District Council, but can get access to the bay by launching from the beach with access from the Esplanade via the ramp opposite Burrow Road.
Axmouth Harbour is a tidal, drying harbour.
The narrow entrance to the harbour is at the end of the shingle bank, just west of Haven Cliff, and is marked by a starboard hand beacon at the end of a short groyne from the pierhead. Just off the harbour entrance to seaward, is a shingle bar liable to frequent shifting; the channel is therefore unmarked, though normally running SSW (NNE from seaward).
The harbour offers access over high water for craft up to 8.5m (30ft) length and 1.5m (4ft) draft. Tidal streams run strongly within the entrance channel and river, particularly on Spring tides when entry and leaving times are critical. Inside, the shelter is good, and the basin is impounded by a bedrock sill.
As the harbour is private property, (owned by East Devon District Council and managed by the Axmouth Harbour Management Company which has overall responsibility for monitoring, advising, maintenance and development of the harbour area.) there is no public slipway in the harbour grounds.
Day visitors can use the harbour slipway by pre–booking through Axe Yacht Club and paying for a day ticket.
Canoes and Kayaks can be either wheeled through the gaps in the sea wall, or lifted over to gain access to the beach.
Dinghies can gain access to the beach using the ramp at Fishermans Gap, although there is no storage area there.
Axe Yacht Club
Axe Yacht Club (AYC), based in Axmouth Harbour, is the main centre for water sports activities in Seaton Bay. The Club’s objective is to promote and facilitate a range of water sports, whilst enjoying and preserving the beautiful Axmouth Harbour. It has been created by and is operated by volunteers drawn from across the membership, with paid professional input only where necessary. This self-help ethos is the essence of AYC.
Dinghy sailors launch from the beach in front of the clubhouse to sail in Seaton Bay. A temporary slipway is laid down the beach with an electric winch for the recovery of dinghies. Members also have the benefit of being able to sail in the more sheltered surroundings of the River Axe & Axmouth Harbour.
There is a programme of dinghy races from May to October and members sail a wide variety of dinghies – the fleet currently consists of Lasers, Picos, Skows, Larks, Mirrors, Axe One Designs, a Miracle, a Solo, a Wanderer, a Topaz Uno Plus, a Topaz Tres and a Topaz Vibe. The Axe One Design (AOD) is a traditional 12 foot clinker built Bermudan rigged dinghy which was designed specifically for members of the AYC in 1951.
The Cadet section for members aged 7 to 17years was established in 2013. It is already a very active part of the Club with 100 cadet members currently. In 2016 the old Oppi fleet was replaced by 6 new Taz dinghies as the Club entry level dinghy for cadets. For 2018, some of the old Topper fleet are being replaced by three Topper Topaz dinghies and there are also three RS Fevas for use by cadets during organized sessions.
For bigger sailing boats, coastal cruising is a very popular Club activity, with AYC yachts being regular visitors to other ports along the south coast, across the Channel, and further afield. For those keen to race as well as cruise, there is a full programme of bay & coastal races from April to October. There are around 120 marina-style berths on pontoons, which have recently been piled. Boats up to 30 ft length and 10 ft 10 in beam can be moored on the pontoons, and must be capable of sitting upright without supports (eg bilge or retractable keels) as the harbour dries.
The motor boaters enjoy a range of activities including angling, power-boating, scuba diving & water ski-ing. Some motor boats are moored on the pontoons during the season, whilst others use the slipway for launch and retrieval.
AYC is also a recognised RYA training centre offering on the water (powerboat level 1& 2, safety boat) and shore based (VHF radio, diesel engine, first aid, yachtmaster, day skipper) courses. The Club is now working towards becoming a recognised training centre for dinghy sailing.
The Club boatyard is large enough to house most boats and equipment during the winter, and is complete with workshops and storage areas for use of members. It owns plant, tractors and machinery including lifting gear to launch and recover large craft. A public access defibrillator has recently been sited to the left of the clubhouse entrance. This is registered with South West Ambulance Service providing a facility for the community as well as the Club.
The activity on the water is supported by a range of social activities in the excellent Clubhouse located on the beach with lovely views across the bay to Beer Head.
Axe Vale Canoe Club
The Axe Vale Canoe Club shares the Harbour facilities with the Axe Yacht Club.
During the summer, the Canoe Club runs Sunday trips to various South West estuaries and sea paddles to places such as the Dart, Exe, Port Quinn, etc and surfing trips to Saunton Sands.
During the winter months of October to March the club arranges river paddles on the rivers Axe, Dart, Barle and others.
River Axe Race – Sunday 11th March 2018
The Club holds an annual canoe/kayak race, the River Axe Race run with various entry categories and normally has around 100 entrants.
This popular race is an excellent introduction to canoe racing and also provides a challenge for the more experienced paddler. All classes are open to paddlers with disabilities.
The race starts 5 miles south of Axminster at Whitford Bridge (M/R 263953). The river Axe twists and winds its way through the Axe Valley for 4 miles before opening out onto the estuary, with a further 1 mile of racing to the finish at Axmouth Harbour (Axe Yacht Club, Seaton).
Separate classes and age categories allow for fair competitive racing and there are medals for all classes.
There are two ways to become a new member of the Axe Vale Canoe Club.
Both involve going along on a Friday night to either the beginners or improvers sessions.
Each set of sessions allows the club to assess your current standard and help you attain the British Canoe Union (BCU) 2-Star standard, if you have not already achieved it.
After successfully completing either of these courses in a kayak or canoe, members can take part in a wide variety of events throughout the year.
The club has a range of canoes and kayaks that can be borrowed for lessons, sessions and also trips.
The members club night is held every Wednesday evening running between April and September and is for more experienced paddlers (assessed as at least BCU 2-star standard).
Members can learn further skills, take a trip up the river Axe or out to sea. In addition there are opportunities for further BCU skill assessments.
The River Axe, Grade 1 in normal conditions, is a narrow river which winds through beautiful countryside. It is a major fishing river whose Clubs and Members pay a high level of subscription for fishing rights.
It is therefore closed to canoeing during the fishing season from March to October inclusive. It has a 5.5 mile stretch for which access has been agreed.
There is no right of way or access over farmland through which the river flows, except in emergency.
The river at Axmouth village, becomes an estuary, with adverse wind conditions, this can become choppy. The estuary is an important wildlife habitat. At low water the estuary becomes muddy flats.
Beyond the 2 Axmouth Bridges the river flows into the sea. On the ebb tide the flow can be 6 – 8 knots, so caution is needed. The mouth of the estuary is a dangerous place due to the ever changing nature of the gravel bank just off the entrance. This is not a place for the novice canoeist. At all times you are advised to go ashore on the right hand gravel bank and reconnoitre the entrance before attempting to run it.
visit the Axe Vale Canoe Club web site on :-www.axevalecc.co.uk
Beer Sailing Club.
Perched on top of the cliff at Beer opposite the Anchor Inn with panoramic views of the sailing is Beer Sailing Club.
Beer Sailing Club enjoys what is probably one of the finest locations for dinghy racing in the United Kingdom. The chalk headland of Beer Head jutting out about a mile shelters the shingle beach from all the westerly winds. Dingies are then launched off the beach and out into the bay.
It is a very active club with racing for Laser and Mirror class dingies throughout the year which is competitive yet friendly. Visitors are very
welcome, whatever standard and current members are always willing to help.
The lugger class fleet has grown in popularity over the years, the club
holds races on each Monday evening during the period April to September and has
built up a large keen following of locals and visitors alike.
The club meets from Easter to the end of September,sailing on Sunday
mornings and afternoons as well as Thursday evenings while there is enough
light. From October to Boxing day, there is a winter series on Sunday
visit the Beer Sailing Club web site on:- www.beersailingclub.co.uk
visit the Beer Luggers Club on:- www.beerluggers.co.uk