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After a year in virtual dry dock, well-heeled sailors are itching to get back on the water. As Bobby Hall of buying agents The Buying Solution (01488 657912) explains: ‘Coastal properties tend to be second-or-third-home purchases, so there was very little demand last year due to the uncertain economic climate. This year, however, there’s noticeably more activity, and several of our clients are interested in buying either on or near the coast for sailing purposes. As ever, the main focus is on established coastal centres such as Lymington, The Hamble, Poole and the Devon and Cornwall coastlines.’

With its long naval tradition and outstanding deep water facilities, the River Dart in Devon has always been one of the UK’s most fashionable sailing venues, and, judging by the prices asked for a number of prime waterfront houses that have come to the market in recent weeks, there’s still plenty of confidence floating around out there.

Knight Frank (01392 423111) and Marchand Petit (01803 839190) quote a guide price of £3.5 million for idyllic Hunterswood at Greenway, on the eastern bank of the Dart between Galmpton and Kingswear. Once part of the Greenway estate, owned by the Goodson family and later by Agatha Christie before being donated to the National Trust, the house, which has been stylishly modernised in recent years, sits in nine acres of gardens and woodland, surrounded on three sides by Trust land.

Built in about 1860 as the laundry to Greenway House, Hunterswood was sold off in the 1930s, when two-storey extensions were added on either side to create the present 3,805sq ft house, which has four reception rooms, a study, a master suite, four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Steps below the house lead past terraced gardens and lawns once part of the historic Greenway gardens to a 33ft pontoon that provides river access for craft of all sizes.

The property is almost unique on the Dart in that its freehold includes ownership of the surrounding foreshore and river-bed, the rest of which is mostly owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. At present, Hunterswood has 30 shallow-water moorings, with five deep water moorings also available, subject to Harbour Authority approval. Knight Frank quote a guide price of £3m for a converted 16th-century boathouse once used by Sir Walter Raleigh.

The Boat House at Maypool, on the northern bank of the Dart, is also surrounded by the National Trust woodland of the Greenway Manor estate. It was reputedly built as a boathouse to the Churston estate, once owned by the Gilbert family, one of whom, Katherine Gilbert, married Walter Raleigh of Fardell, Devon, in 1549. Their son, later Sir Walter Raleigh, is said to have used the boathouse on many occasions.

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Set amid terraced gardens with its own private slipway, stone quay and pontoon, and spectacular river views from every room, the striking, 3,288sq ft Boat House has three fine reception rooms, a conservatory and playroom, a kitchen/breakfast room, master and two guest suites, plus three further bedrooms.

As Martin Lamb of Savills (01392 455755) points out: ‘For a rich man, a waterfront home is not one of life’s essentials, but it is a very nice thing to own.’ Historically, houses with direct water access have also proved to be sound long-term investments. Mr Lamb is selling, jointly with Marchand Petit (01803 839190), the remarkable Homestone at South Town, Dartmouth, a light and roomy two-storey house built in 2000 on the site of a former boathouse, with its own secure, gated, tidal dock.

A guide price of £2.25m to £2.5m is quoted for the 2,800sq ft house, which has an open plan living room, a dining room, a study, four double bedrooms, three bath/shower rooms, and compelling views of the River Dart, Kingswear and out to sea.

Simon Scott-Nelson of Winkworth Waterfront in Exeter (01392 477884) is handling the sale of Lidstones at Dartmouth, another converted boathouse with breathtaking views of Dartmouth marina, Kingswear and the Dart estuary, on the market at a guide price of £2.15m.

The impeccably renovated three-bedroom house has a waterside balcony, an outside courtyard, a launching terrace and a running mooring (subject to licence). Perhaps most importantly in busy Dartmouth, Lidstones comes with a three-car garage in nearby Lower Street, a short walk away.

After a quiet start to the year in Cornwall, Jonathan Cunliffe of Savills in Truro reports the sale of three prime Cornish waterfront properties since Easter: Pencalenick House at Lanteglos-by-Fowey, near Polruan, jointly with Knight Frank, for ‘close’ to the £3.5m guide price; Trevose House near Padstow, also for close to its £3.5m guide; and Little Falmouth House near Flushing, on offer at £2.5m.

Savills (01872 243200) quote a guide price of £1.5m for the enchanting Ropehawn at Trenarren, near St Austell, a magical private retreat on the south Cornish coast, accessible only on foot or by boat, and with its own private quay, two boathouses, a slipway and deep-water moorings.

Originally the centre of a thriving pilchard industry, Ropehawn was owned by the Hext family for 351 years until 1989, when they sold the property to Rex Turner, a retired naval commander who devoted much energy to rebuilding the sea wall with the help of a JCB towed across St Austell bay on a raft. Charmingly restored, the sturdy stone-built house has two main reception rooms, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a guest cottage and a delightful walled garden.

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