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24 September 2014
Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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  Inside Out - West: Monday September 15, 2003

SAILING THE SEVERN

Rob Salvidge on the Severn estuary
Inside out takes a journey down the Severn estuary

Bristol based sailor and ferryman Rob Salvidge has braved the wild Atlantic and sailed the Southern Seas, but he still reckons the waters on his doorstep are the best.

Inside Out joins Rob as he rediscovers the Severn estuary on a journey from Porlock to Sharpness.

Rob Salvidge has been a presenter on Radio Bristol for 30 years, but he is just at home on water as he is on air.

"I've always loved boats," says Rob. "I grew up by the water… when the chance came up to run the ferries, I grabbed it."

Rob may spend a his time at the helm of one of Bristol's ferry boats, chugging along at a placid pace, but in the past, he has been a bit of a speed demon.

A keen sailor, Rob has raced on the Bristol Clipper and with Tony Bullimore on his catamaran.

Life on the ocean waves

Map of the Severn
Rob journeys from Porlock to Sharpness

Rob may have travelled far and wide, but he is convinced you can't beat the Severn estuary and to prove it - he's taking Inside Out along for the ride.

Rob's journey begins at Porlock Weir where he enlists the services and boat of James Adlington.

"I used to come down here every weekend from Bristol," explains James. "I said to someone 'when I retire, I am going to come and live down here.' They said 'why wait until you retire?"

"I thought, 'yes, why?' I moved down here the next weekend."

So it seems Rob has found a fellow fan of the Severn, but no sooner have the pair enthused about the estuary, than they arrive at the first destination.

Messing about on the river

From Minehead, it's on to Watchet and for this leg of the journey, Rob is travelling in style. Enter Mike Crump and his charter yacht Trilogy.

Rob and Mike are zipping along at 23 knots, but at two miles to the gallon, it's not a cheap vessel to run, or to purchase in the first place!

Charter yacht Trilogy
Rob hitches rides from generous sailors

"It's around £200,000 for a new one," explains Mike. "They're expensive. Nothing to do with boats is cheap."

At this pace, it isn't long before the pair arrive in Watchet.

For years it was a run-down commercial port, but a new marina has injected new life into Watchet.

All hands on deck

From Watchet Rob secures a passage on an old Westcountry trading schooner - her first outing in these waters in forty years.

The three-masted schooner began life moving cargoes around the Bristol Channel and the Irish Sea.

"She was the equivalent to a modern-day articulated lorry," explains skipper Sacha Hall.

"It was vessels like these that ran up and down the arteries of the Bristol Channel," continues Sacha. "They were the lifeblood making the whole system work."

Rob climbing the rigging
For his passage aboard the schooner Rob has to pitch in

Rob's pervious passages have been a pleasure cruise, for this voyage, it's all hands on deck.

The schooner leaves Watchet as the tide is going out and they end up drifting with it for 30 miles or more.

"These are some of the strongest tidal waters in the world," says Rob. "You have to work with them, not against them."

The halfway mark

Halfway through his journey and Rob prepares for a well earned rest and a bit of Welsh hospitality in Penarth.

The journey is far from over, but to find out if Rob completes it, you'll have to tune in next week!

See also ...

On the rest of the web
The Severn Boating Page
Severn Estuary
Severn Ferries
Severn Area Rescue Association

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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