Another happy morning pottering in Falmouth in beautiful weather.
Falmouth in the sunshine
Then a nice, but short, sail down to the Helford River. We couldn’t visit this part of the world without stopping off to see what has changed at Durgan and having supper at the Shipwrights Arms in Helford for old times’ sake.
It seems that the Helford is better environmentally protected now than it used to be when we last visited. There are eelgrass beds in the estuary and they try to stop people anchoring near the beaches. We had thought that we would anchor off Grebe beach, but were happy to comply with the no anchoring policy to protect such a beautiful part of the world. We picked up a visitor’s mooring further up the river, near Helford.
View of Helford sailing club from our mooring
It’s hard to complain about the Shipwrights Arms. It has been greatly “improved” with its own pontoon for dinghies, smart decor, and a varied menu. Also you no longer seem to smell the toilets when you sit on the lower terraces – but modernisation means that it has lost some of it’s old character so I’m not sure it’s an improvement!
View from the Shipwright’s Arms
Our passage plan for the next day to Penzance gave us a bit of a lie in, and we didn’t leave the Helford River until lunchtime. There was very little wind, but at least the neap tides meant that the overfalls round the Lizard were very slight – and I managed to round the headland without being sick for the first time! It was slow going and we didn’t get to Penzance until around 7pm. We had intended to anchor by St Michael’s Mount but the slight easterly wind we had earlier in the day changed to westerly which meant that it wasn’t so safe. Instead we managed to pick up a waiting buoy outside Penzance Harbour. Normally it would have been an uncomfortable place to spend any time, but the wind soon died completely and the bay was like a millpond.
This was just as well as we had to leave again at 3am to catch the tide going round Land’s End. We spent hours on our passage plan, reading up about the best time to go in order to get to Padstow before the tidal gate at the harbour there closed. In fact there was almost no tide as it turned out and almost no wind – this made it a very safe, but a very boring day, motor sailing for about 11 hours. It was so calm that we took a shortcut inside the Longships rocks. There wasn’t even much to look at, apart from a few rather austere looking tin mines on the north side of Lands End, but it was all worthwhile when we got to Padstow at exactly the right time, found a space in the harbour against the harbour wall and with all the tourists watching moored up, using our fender board for the first time – and then relaxed and warmed ourselves in the hot sunshine.
It’s about 42 miles from Plymouth to Falmouth, so we were expecting a long day. There was little wind when we started and what there was was right on the nose, so we had to motorsail. However, about half way to Falmouth the wind backed a little and filled in. At the same time the tide got stronger and we made really good progress. The visibility wasn’t great, it started raining again, and the fog horn at St Anthony’s Head was a bit eerie – but we arrived safely and anchored just off the town quay in Falmouth. It was an amazingly still, quiet night with hardly a ripple on the water.
Thursday was a lovely day. We spent the morning looking in all the galleries on the High Street, and having coffee at my favourite coffee shop, looking out over the bay. Then lunch with William and Louise Allen. We met them many years ago on the beach in Durgan and have kept in touch ever since. They now live in Falmouth where William is a volunteer lifeboatman and Louise is doing an MSc in renewable energy and energy management.
William and Louise in front of the Falmouth lifeboat
A day in Plymouth. Richard went off to the MLA (Marine Learning Alliance) http://www.mla-uk.com which is the distance learning part of the Institute of Marine engineering , Science and Technology http://www.imarest.org where he is Chairman of the Board of Trustees. As the MLA is based in the Plymouth Science Park it was a great opportunity to call in and learn more about how the business is progressing and discuss future plans.
Plymouth University Marine Centre
A group of students were undertaking a 2 week practical, residential part of a hydrography course with the MLA and this was being held in the University building next to the marina. We later found the students installing a tide gauge on the marina wall next to Harvard; all really interesting and it was great to meet a group of engaged and enthusiastic students.
A walk together around town and Plymouth Hoe in the afternoon and then a visit to the Dolphin pub that was the local haunt of Beryl Cook http://www.berylcook.com. The pub features in a number of her paintings and they always bring a smile to the face. Then a visit to the Royal Western Yacht Club which is in the marina buildings and has fantastic views over Plymouh Sound. All good fun and as there was little wind all day we haven’t missed any sailing.
Richard on Plymouth Hoe in front of John Smeaton’s Lighthouse
Beautiful trip down the Dart river, enjoying the view. We even saw the steam railway from Kingswear.
Stream railway at Kingswear
After a short burst of 20 knots at the mouth of the river, the wind eased and to only about 10-12 knots – not really enough for Harvard, but it was in the right direction and the tide was so strong that we still arrived at the entrance to the Salcombe estuary sooner than expected. It seemed a pity to waste such good progress so we changed our plans and carried on to Plymouth.
That was the right decision in terms of progress, but having carried on, it then started pouring with rain. With the wind behind us it blew straight into the cabin. Even with our Musto all weather gear on we were quickly soaked and by the time we got to Plymouth, we were almost blinded by the constant drizzle. The chart plotter was difficult to read, but if we opened the hatch to look at paper charts, everything got wet. My glasses steamed up and coming into Queen Anne’s Battery Marina to raft up on the visitor’s pontoon was somewhat stressful…