The “Duck Pond” works best on a North Westerly (NW) wind - as the wind ‘cleans up’ as it funnels down Exe Estuary from Exeter.
It’s best 2 hours either side of High Tide, but can be ridden at most states of the tide if you’re willing to walk.
The Duck Pond has a Wildlife Refuge area active from 15th September to the end of December and it’s vital we keep out of this area.
Kitesurfers must give way to all other vessels in the Navigation Channel and maintain an adequate clearence.
The Duck Pond is the local name for part of the Exe Estuary nearest Exmouth.
The rigging / launch site is at the Imperial Recreation Ground, The Royale Ave, Exmouth, EX8 1DG.
Parking is sometimes tight right by the “Rec Ground” so there are alternatives a short walk away just over the road at the Imperial Road Short Stay Car Park that you passed getting there or across the Rec Ground grass at Camperdown Terrace - (EX8 1EJ)
View on Google Maps
Wildlife Refuge areas (red/purple) for indication only - for exact area use buoys and consult maps from Exe Estuary Partnership.
Duck Pond launch site is the green star to the north of the map near the town.
- Best on a North Westerly (NW) wind but can be ridden when the wind is between West and North.
- Best 2 hours either side of High Tide - but can be ridden at other states of the tide if you're happy to walk.
- If you are learning best 3 to 4 hours before high tide - see Kings Lake below
Check the weather page for resources.
- The Duck Pond area is shallow - a lot of it is waist deep at high tide but there are deeper areas.
- As the tide starts going out you will find yourself in just a few inches.
- Being shallow can give a false sense of security sometimes. Most kitesurfing injuries are due to hitting ‘stuff’ and not in open water. On the water there are areas with sandbanks, buoys and boats (if nothing else these are great at tearing through expensive kites and lines). Around the sides there are concrete embankments, trees, signs, cars, a train and even sometimes a funfair.
- The launch site is a particular hazard, especially if its gusty and the grass is slippy and wet. If you’re a beginner consider arriving early so you can setup and launch on the sand.
- That’s not to say it’s a dangerous spot as it is great for beginners (especially Kings Lake), but it does have hazards just like any other site.
- The Exe Estuary is an important site for wildlife, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Protection Area (SPA). During winter, tens of thousands of birds depend upon the Exe to rest and feed on their long migratory journeys from areas as far away as Siberia.
- There are two Wildlife Refuges in operation - in pink on the map.
- The main one (for us) is to the East (town side) of the launch and is active between 15th September and the 31st of December
- There is also a permanent one around Dawlish Warren
Wildlife reserves in pink - click to zoom
- The Exmouth Wildlife Refuge is marked out by a line of yellow buoys. Keep to the West of them (to the left of them when looking up the estuary)
(There are 4 big yellow buoys with numbers marking the powerboat course, ignore these - its the big yellow ones with crosses on and the smaller round ones all marked “WR”)
- Remember to turn well before them to ensure your kite doesn’t overfly (they are both big and scary for birds and big and visible for photos showing proof that we’re not abiding to the refuge!)
- If you do end up having to go into the refuge, despite your best efforts, for safety reasons or you have had some sort of fall or equipment failure then you will not be shot on sight. We must “Avoid wildlife refuges where safe to do so”.
If you spot other kite or wind surfers going into the Wildlife Refuge have a friendly word with them when safe to do so. No one wants to be the beach police, but it’s likely they just didn’t know.
For more information consult the Exe Estuary Management Partnership and the Exe Water Users Code
Also please read the Code of Conduct
Kings Lake is a position north west of a sandbank that is ideal for those learning and if you want to sail the duck pond at lower states of tide.
If learning get there early (3 to 4 hours before high tide on a rising tide).
It’s ideal for learning as
- It’s away from any dangers, especially during the critical launching / landing phase.
- If you have a drama you will find yourself back on the huge sandbank where you can reset you lines and launch again
Pump up your kite but don’t attach the lines. Carry everything over to the big sandbank and then finish rigging and launch.
If you’re more confident you can stay as the tide fills in and then kite-surf back to the rec ground area (landing on the sand 50m away from the slipway) - otherwise land and pack up whilst you’ve still got room on the sandbar and walk/wade back.
Stay in the centre area of the Estuary - don’t venture too far left or right.
Consider lessons with a local instructor who can show you the area in detail - lessons are an investment that will pay dividends in time, speed of progression and safety.