SALT encrusted sailors who call in at Salcombe will for the first time this season be provided with free hot showers on the quayside – over 30 years after moves to find a suitable site were first discussed.
As an added treat the yachtsmen will have a glimpse of “Life in the South Hams” depicted on their shower room tiles by budding artists of the town’s Church of England primary school along with 12 tiles of decorated marine scenes by local artist Maggie Smith.
It is a very busy harbour. In 2011-12, 6,000 yachts visited the harbour staying for 10,000 yacht nights. When the work is finished and the tiles are installed the block will be on the South Ham’s Arts Trail.
Announcing the start of work on the shower block at Whitestrand, Harbour Master Ian Gibson said: “It has been a long held objective of the Harbour Authority to provide shower facilities for visiting yachtsmen, but finding a suitable location for the showers which is affordable and accessible has been the biggest hurdle.”
He added: “It is not the complete answer, but it does mean that we can offer visiting yachtsmen the choice in early and late season when the luxury showers at Salcombe Yacht Club, which have been provided for many years, may not be open. The new block will be open in season from 7am until 9pm and September to Easter 9am to 5pm.”
Ian added: ”The showers will be free to visiting yachtsmen as part of their mooring charges and be pin-code operated. This facility has been a big gap for many years in the harbour’s facilities and services which are offered to visiting yachtsmen.”
The two-cubicle shower block is being built by local builder Simon Procter as an extension to the South Hams District Council toilet block on the car park adjacent to the much improved Town Landing pontoons. They were completed in 2011 at a cost of £155,000.
As well as two alongside overnight berths (7pm -8am) for vessels up to 12m, the pontoons allow visiting yachts to moor up for 30 minutes and boats up to 5.5m (18ft) to moor for up to two hours to allow visitors to explore the town and are all part of the harbour authority’s moves to encourage more visiting yachtsmen to make Salcombe a destination port.
Planning Permission was granted for two shower cubicles to be constructed in front of the Council’s public toilets at Whitestrand in March 2012. Work started on Monday (February 4) and is due to be completed in time for the season.
Ian added that during construction the Whitestrand toilets would be closed, and he wished to apologise for any inconvenience this might cause. The nearest public conveniences are 200 yards away in Cliff House Gardens.
Maggie Smith, who is renowned for her coastal views in acrylic, mixed media and printmaking, received the commission through the South Hams Arts Forum, and Assistant Head Teacher Caroline Flage supervised the pupils in their project.
China Blue tiles of Totnes will sponsor a further 1,000 tiles needed to complete the project.
Vernon Gay, managing director of China Blue, and a yachtsman himself, said: “We are glad that our tiles decorated by the pupils are being placed in the new showers and we are only too pleased to provide the rest of the tiles to finish of the job – especially as it will be on the local arts trail.”
Salcombe Harbour Authority chairman Councillor John Carter said: “We are delighted that we have been able to find a practical solution to provide visiting yachtsmen with access to shower facilities. We hope it will encourage more yachtsmen to visit Salcombe and stay longer.”