Welcome to Stuart Line Cruises’ April Newsletter!

This month has seen the the official start of our summer season, with Jurassic Coast Cruises, Round Robin Cruises and some glorious weather to boot! 

April’s newsletter will include a round-up of the following highlights from this past month:

  • Pride of Exmouth Back in Action
  • Jurassic Coast Cruises
  • Bank Holiday Weekend
  • Upcoming Special Events
 

Pride of Exmouth back in Action!
 

As many of you will already know from March’s newsletter, our flagship vessel underwent a refit during March/April, during which routine maintenance and improvements were carried out – don’t worry though, nothing as drastic as 2017! She was hauled out of the water at Voyager Boatyard near Plymouth and kept under cover for two weeks, enabling us to repaint, as well as various other planned works. 

She was brought safely back to home waters by Captain Jake and his Crew and upon successful completion of Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) inspection and running trials, really hit the ground running – so to speak – with a very busy Easter Bank Holiday weekend! 

 

Jurassic Coast Cruises 

With Pride of Exmouth back in the swing of things, we are delighted to be running our famous Jurassic Coast Cruises again. The oldest end of the Jurassic Coast starts here in Exmouth and as England’s only natural World Heritage Site – voted by UNESCO to be the fourth most important in the world (after The Great Barrier Reef, The Grand Canyon and The Great Wall of China) – we feel that it is our great privilege to be able to share this natural wonder with our passengers. 

Some of you may have been aware of a dramatic landslide at Jacob’s Ladder in Sidmouth during the busy Easter weekend; gladly, nobody was hurt but this does present a stark reminder of the volatile and unforgiving nature of this fascinating but ever-changing coastline. It is extremely dangerous to be on the beaches beneath some stretches of the cliffs and having witnessed numerous landslides from the safety of our vessel over the years, we feel a responsibility to remind people to be extremely careful when choosing where to walk or sit. 

 

Bank Holiday Weekend 

What a weekend!

We were blessed with more glorious weather than we could have dreamed of and suspect this may have had something to do with being rather busy, with Jurassic Coast Cruises, River Exe Cruises, Cream Tea Cruises and Round Robin Cruises – oh and an 80’s Band Night thrown in the mix just to spice things up a bit! 

Although a tad exhausted by Monday night, we had brilliant fun and were reminded once again, of our true love for what we do! 

 

Upcoming Special Events 

Brixham Pirate Festival

Jump aboard Stuart Line Cruises and it’s anchors away to Brixham to have yourself a swashbuckling time at the 2019 Brixham Pirate Festival!

Setting sail from Exmouth, your adventure begins from the outset as we take on all the travel arrangements for you, so you can arrive ship-shape for both the first and the last day of this incredible celebration of all things pirate!

Come along in your full pirate finery and regalia to revel in the essence of the historic pirate town of Brixham.

Sailing at 10:00, returning approx. 17:00
Tickets £12.50 adults and £7.50 children

Book your tickets before they sell out!

 

Exeter Canal Cruise

This unique opportunity to cruise along the oldest working shipping canal in Europe, is offered only a handful of times per year. Travelling at a relaxing pace, sit back and soak up the scenery, watch the locks come to life and the swing bridge majestically open, before enjoying Exeter’s Historic Quayside or the traditional seaside town of Exmouth. 

This is a one-way trip where you can either board from Exmouth to travel up to Exeter or depart from Exeter to travel to Exmouth. For your return journey there are ample public transport links within a few minutes flat walk at both Exmouth and Exeter and our Crew will be happy to point the way!

Departs Exmouth at 11:00
Departs Exeter at 14:00

These cruises are always over-subscribed due to limited occurrence, so make sue you book early to avoid disappointment! 

 
 
Geology Day Cruise 

Our Geology Day Trip is an incredible all-day geology tour, sailing along one of the most breath-taking sections of the British Coastline.

With a leading Geologist on board, our geology field trips have a full commentary throughout, going into fantastic detail relating to rock formations and ever-changing heritage landscapes as we gently sail past.

Tides and weather will determine the specific route of this cruise, sailing either along England’s only natural World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast or along the stunning South Devon Coastline towards the English Riviera.

These cruises have very limited availability, with only two scheduled for this year – advanced booking is essential.  

 

 

A blustery afternoon with sunny periods and occasional showers for the last birdwatching cruise of the season. A Peregrine flew from the estuary past us to land on Exmouth church tower. Kite surfers were again busy offshore and only about 100 Brent Geese stayed put (more or less). A Grey Seal was hauled out on a pontoon near Dawlish Warren and the ‘resident’ Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood, as usual. We passed 2 immature drake Eiders off Starcross, while the third was out on a sandbank nearby. About 30 Red-breasted Mergansers and 20 Great Crested Grebes were scattered up the estuary. Small numbers of Sanderlings were on the fringes of the central sandbanks and also on the mudbanks nearer Topsham. 3 Greenshanks were off Powderham. Pintail were again around the mouth of the Clyst, 150-200 of them. About 500 roosting Golden Plover, some in breeding plumage, were on the mud off Turf, with 27 Knot nearby. Quite a few of the hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits were already in their orange breeding plumage, and one group contained the Ruff that has wintered at Bowling Green Marsh. At least one Bar-tailed Godwit was also in its brick-red summer finery. As we approached Topsham, we eventually saw Avocets, though barely 30 were left of the wintering flock.

Dave Smallshire

The penultimate guided birdwatching cruise today saw highlights from the Brent Geese putting in aerial displays near Turf Lock with at least 400 birds showing well. The pick of the birds today was 20+ Sanderling on sandbars north of Powderham Park area of the Estuary, in the same area produced 60+ Shelduck and near Exton station the Pintail flock was seen at a distance. The 300+ Golden Plover were still in the Turf Lock area and showed well before the weather closed in with the rain becoming heavier. Several hundred Black Tailed Godwits showed well with Bar Tailed Godwits and Dunlin in good numbers. Slavonian Grebe was off Starcross but was at a distance. Great Crested Grebe and Red Breasted Mergansers were showing well with a number of flybys pass the boat in the mid Estuary area. Greenshank and Redshank were seen around the River Kenn outfall. A Grey Seal put in a brief appearance near the Clyst confluence thrilling the visitors on board.  Avocet numbers are now drastically reduced with roughly 30 birds seen off  the Goat Walk area near Topsham and the Clyst confluence it does look like the warm weather two weeks ago triggered a mass exodus from the Exe Estuary back to their breeding grounds further east along our coast and possibly heading back to the Netherlands for the forth coming breeding season.

Derek Carter

A very wet and windy cruise today: not very spring-like at all! Kite surfers were having a great time off Exmouth, but had effectively cleared the area of birds. A Peregrine showed briefly around Exmouth church tower and the ‘resident’ Slavonian Grebe was near the wreck off Cockwood, where we saw the first of at least 30 Red-breasted Mergansers. Great Crested Grebes were present in good numbers, a group of 19 together contributing to a total of at least 26. The 3 immature drake Eiders were out on a sandbank near Starcross today and 4 Goldeneye were seen nearby. Several groups of Sanderlings were on the fringes of the central sandbanks, culminating in 25 together. At least 4 Greenshanks were off Powderham (and another later flew past us at Topsham). Perhaps 200 Pintail were again around the mouth of the Clyst. Brent Geese were grazing in fields near Turf, some of them heading that way from the estuary as we passed by, and a Grey Seal eyed us briefly. The mudbanks around Turf-Topsham held some 300 roosting Golden Plover, lots of feeding Dunlin and small numbers of Knot, Bar-tailed Godwits and Grey Plover. Most of the Black-tailed Godwits must have been feeding in the rain-sodden fields, as only about 100 were on the mud. As we approached Topsham, we got nice views of Avocets, though it seems that many have departed for breeding areas during the fine weather in recent weeks.

Dave Smallshire

Good Numbers of dark bellied Brent Geese today with these birds seen throughout the Estuary and 400+ downstream of Turf Lock. The Slavonian Grebe put in an appearance between Cockwood and Starcross with 10+ Great crested Grebe showing in both Summer and Winter plumage in mid section of the estuary. High point in this area and the River Kenn confluence where 5 Greenshank with good numbers of Redshank showed the comparison between the two. The Golden Plover flock was out on the mudflats opposite Turf Lock with small groups airborne above them. The numbers of overall bird count are reducing now as expected for this time of year with less Avocet numbers seen however small numbers put on a show with flying displays near Topsham along with Black Tailed Godwits, a few Bar Tailed Godwits and 200+ Dunlin showed well. Overall it was a good cruise today with the weather dry and clear visibility.

Derek Carter

Weather was set fair for the afternoon cruise with strong early spring sunshine.  A few birds on Pole Sands with 50+ Dark Bellied Brent Geese on show at the start. Nice views of  a Grey Seal on one of the Mussel vessels off Dawlish Warren. Red Breasted Mergansers put in an appearance throughout the Estuary and the same for Great Crested Grebe. Slovenian Grebe showed off Starcross and Good numbers of Gulls throughout with 1500+ off Exton. 200+ Avocets showed well between Turf Lock and Topsham with flights near the boat. 1000+ Lapwing flighty around this same area with 400+ Black Tailed Godwits. As the sun fell low in the sky the 800+ Golden plover looked more golden than usual and put on a fantastic display across the mudflats. Plenty of Black Tailed Godwits showed well near to Topsham along with a few Teal. The cruise back to Exmouth with the sun setting was enjoyed by all.

Derek Carter

A little chillier today than the mild days of late, mostly cloudy. A Grey Seal was close to Exmouth in the mouth of the estuary and another was hauled out on a pontoon off Dawlish Warren – it barely bothered to look up at us! The 3 immature drake Eiders were further upriver, off Starcross today. 3 Sanderlings were along the central sandbank fringe and we saw 5 Greenshanks, mostly off Powderham. A few Goldeneye (1 drake) were seen distantly in a channel towards Lympstone and about 20 Great Crested Grebes and maybe 30 Red-breasted Mergansers were scattered up the estuary, with over 200 Pintail again around the mouth of the Clyst. Grey Herons could be seen at their nests in the Turkey Oaks behind Starcross Yacht Club, and a Buzzard was flying near the Castle. Hundreds of Canada and then Brent Geese flew up from their grazing fields near Turf. The mudbanks around Turf-Topsham again held large numbers of waders, especially Black-tailed Godwits (1000?), Lapwings (1000?), Golden Plover (500?), Dunlin and Avocets affording us excellent views. Among them were smaller numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot and Grey Plover. A Sparrowhawk flew across the river at Topsham, where there were dozens of Teal mud in the gloopy mud. Gulls gathering to bathe and then rest on the mud included Lesser Black-backed and many Common Gulls. Perhaps a third Grey Seal spied us briefly off Starcross on the return, and the ‘resident’ Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood, although we couldn’t see it on the way out!

Dave Smallshire

Another great cruise today with plenty of birds on show. The Three Eiders were seen off Starcross with Great Crested Grebes in winter and Summer plumage. The Slavonian Grebe was seen near the River Kenn confluence with great views of 3 Greenshank with Redshank together showing the difference between the two. Red Breasted Mergansers seen throughout the Estuary and alway great to see.  The Pintail flock were again seen between Lympstone and the Clyst confluence, the sun really showed them off. Large numbers of Black Tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Golden Plover and Lapwing took to the air in three distinct layers put on a fantastic display near the Turf Lock area and flocks of Avocets stole the show near Topsham with flybys past the boat and reeling over the mudflats. On our way back several Turnstones showed on the Mussel vessel and then the Grey Seal posed on the flat vessel in front of everyone. This was a great cruise for everyone.

Derek Carter

After a couple of short, sharp showers, we had a relatively warm cruise with excellent visibility. A Great Northern Diver off Exmouth seafront was followed by the ‘resident’ Slavonian Grebe off Cockwood and 3 immature drake Eiders resting on Bull Hill. Shags at close range revealed their bottle green plumage and some had breeding crests. At least 22 Sanderlings were scattered along the sandbank fringes and at least 6 Greenshanks, mostly off Powderham. Five Goldeneye (2 drakes) were seen distantly in a channel towards Lympstone and around a dozen Great Crested Grebes and maybe 30 Red-breasted Mergansers were scattered up the estuary, with over 200 Pintail mostly around the mouth of the Clyst. Several Grey Herons could be seen at their nests in the Turkey Oaks behind Starcross Yacht Club. The mudbanks around Turf-Topsham again held large numbers of waders, especially Black-tailed Godwits (1000+?), Lapwings (1500+), Golden Plover (700), Dunlin and Avocets affording us excellent views. Among them were smaller numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot and Grey Plover. Gulls gathering to bathe and then rest on the mud included at least 10 Lesser Black-backed and many Common Gulls.

Dave Smallshire

A mild day with a southerly breeze, rather dull to start with but soon brightening up to give excellent visibility. The ‘resident’ Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood and 3 immature drake Eiders were on or near Bull Hill. Several Goldeneye (1 drake) were seen distantly in a channel towards Lympstone. Three Greenshanks were opposite a sandbank off Powderham, where another was feeding in the Kenn outlet. Around 20 Great Crested Grebes and maybe 30 Red-breasted Mergansers were scattered up the estuary, and some 200 Pintail were around the mouth of the Clyst. A Buzzard soared up over Powderham Park, where a few Grey Herons could be seen at their nests in the Turkey Oaks. The mudbanks around Turf-Topsham had spectacular numbers of waders, with large flocks of Black-tailed Godwits (1000?), Lapwings (1300+), Golden Plover (700), Dunlin, Avocets and Brent Geese, many giving excellent views. Among them were smaller numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot, Sanderling and Grey Plover. Gulls gathering to bathe and then rest on the mud included a total of about 10 Lesser Black-backed and 380 Common Gulls; both species are starting to move through from wintering grounds further south. A female Goldeneye passed us as we returned towards Turf.

Dave Smallshire