Boat trips are a great way to do some sightseeing the lazy way, sitting back and watching the scenery go by at a gentle speed of a few knots. Boats are also ideal for spotting birds and wildlife. Take a trip with a local guide who will give an interesting commentary and will answer any questions along the way. Here are a few ideas:
The only place in Devon currently chartering skippered sailing boats is Appledore Sails. Take a trip over Bideford Bar, lend the captain a hand in sailing the boat in the strong tidal Bristol Channel or charter a private trip to Lundy Island beneath the straining sails of the 31 foot Patron. Motor boat trips are also available on the two-masted lugger Jez-y-belle around the pretty Taw Estuary.
Just along the coast from Appledore is Bideford, home to the Lundy Shore Office. The MS Oldenburg runs scheduled trips to Lundy Island from late March to October. This sturdy vessel carries supplies as well as paying passengers across to Lundy offering some breathtaking views of the North Devon coast along the way. During the few hours ashore on the island visitors can visit the 13th century castle and the lighthouse.
From the Barbican on Plymouth's historic waterfront several boat companies offer tours around the dockyard. Lasting around an hour, the trip explores Plymouth Sound, passing Drake's Island to view the current warships in the historic dockyard for repair or being resupplied.
The boat captain/commentator knows the history of all the ships and submarines in intimate detail. Another trip from the same spot sails up the Tamar River and under the Royal Albert Bridge before reaching Calstock. From there a ferry runs to the National Trust property of Cotehele with its historic quay and manor house, although it is within easy walking distance.
For calmer waters, try a family-friendly cruise up the Rive Exe with Stuart Line Cruises. Boats depart from Exmouth marina, Topsham or Sidmouth, for those fortunate enough to be staying in holiday rentals in that beautiful part of Devon.
For keen ornithologists these trips are an unrivalled way to see thousands of birds that migrate to the River Exe for the winter. Trips include a full commentary by the “eagle-eyed” ornithologist onboard. The same company also offers exhilarating RIB boat trips, the ultimate in fast sea travel. Boats hold 11 passengers and reach speeds of up to 60mph on calm summer days.