Archive for August, 2014

August 2012 part 2

Posted in Cornwall, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2014 by maidofmettle

Having shot west at the start of the holiday allowed me to cruise back to Torpont with a lot more stops, visiting quite a few places I’d only ever sailed past before.

A calm morning to start with – at least there were no issues with the chain ferry motoring down!

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By the time I got down to Carrick Roads there was a lovely breeze.

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So out past Black Rock at the entrance to Falmouth Harbour (the entrance would be too straightforward without one great big hazard right in the middle)…

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and round the Roseland, past Nare Head and the Dodman to tie up between two mooring buoys in the outer harbour at Mevagissey. Not something I’d done in a while but with the dinghy in the water very simple- basically just pick one buoy up normally (I say simple – not necessarily easy!) and then row a line to the other one.

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Mevagissey, or ‘Mevva’, is a beautiful little town, with the harbour possibly still home to as many fishing boats as pleasure boats, though tourism is a much bigger industry now.

Incidentally, it’s claimed (though wikipedia regards it to be somewhat dubious) to have been the first town in the UK with electric street lights, run by a power station built in 1895 and powered by pilchard oil. That’s some sign of how big the fishing fleet would have been then, but probably didn’t do much for any early tourists!

Here you can see the inner harbour, with the old lifeboat house in the bottom left.

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Here’s the evening entertainment signing on the quayside..

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..and here’s another picture of the inner harbour.

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The next day the wind was rather strong so with Maid tucked safely in the harbour I went for a walk north along the coast..

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..to Pentewan, once the site of a much bigger harbour since lost to siltation. The very shallow shelving sandy beach looks perfect for the caravan park though.

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Surprisingly, the inner basins are still largely intact..

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though the ‘channel’ to the sea is minimal.

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Mevagissey has a much more practical entrance which I departed from the next day – the wind hadn’t abated but the sunshine on the other side of the cold front made quite a difference.

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It was a fast and exciting sail tacking up to Charlestown at the northern side of St Austell Bay, taking full advantage of the shelter of the land and consequent smooth sea to charge to windward in winds I’d never normally want to tack into.

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Charlestown is one of the harbours that took over when Pentewan went into decline, and is still used by tall ships today. The fee to use the lock is rather beyond smaller boats, and I didn’t plan on staying long anyway so anchored off and rowed into the harbour in the dinghy for a look around.

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The bottom shelves quite slowly here as well making it quite a long row in against the wind – you can just see Maid anchored offshore in the background between the pier heads.

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Here’s another look at the ships inside-Β  if you’ve seen any period drama with a nautical flavour you may recognise them or the harbour.

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Next we shot off downwind, past Gribbin Head and the entrance to Fowey.. Rather less hard work, and almost as exhilarating..

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…though I was rather wishing I wasn’t towing the dinghy, which was fine going upwind but now kept trying to overtake and ramming the back of the boat, till I finally found a system to prevent it.

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I was aiming for Polperro, which is an altogether different harbour to Pentewan (as was) or Charlestown, very much a crack in the rocks kind of entrance. Can you see it?

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(it’s just to the right of the dark brown rock extending from the left, below the lowest white house)

Given the wind strength I’ll let myself off getting my thumb in this one (note the angle of heel despite the sheltered water and having taken the sails down).

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Despite my recent practice picking up the mooring buoy in the much stronger headwind took a while longer than in Mevagissey. It wasn’t helped by the fact that there was no room to maneuver so the couple of times that I missed it and the front of the boat got blown away from it by the wind I ended up having to leave the cove and go back in again. I think the fisherman I kept going past found it amusing enough to not mind.

Eventually I got set and was now glad I had the dinghy in the water to row a stern line out again – there really isn’t any room to swing here without blocking the channel or potentially hitting a rock. I was glad I had a very long line – it was quite a distance (see the angle of the rope in the bottom right!).

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Here’s the inner harbour..

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..and Maid out in the outer harbour, with a beautiful moon, especially enjoyed with some very tasty fish and chips at the end of a long and satisfying day.

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(it was slightly disconcerting to still hear the swell on the rocks when getting into bed though..)

The next morning I went for a walk along the coast path, finding what was presumably an old huer’s hut

 

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and a bit more of a wander round Polperro – you might guess that this is ‘Shell Cottage’.

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Once the tide had turned I carried on eastward, before rounding St Mary’s Island and anchoring off Looe.

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There’s plenty of space inside, but it’s shallow and drying out against a wall really restricts when you can leave – especially if you’re heading eastwards and want to have plenty of time sailing with the tide rising. It’s clearly a popular place for crab-fishing though..

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The next afternoon’s sailing was very relaxed..

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..with plenty of time to admire the coast and the little villages, while giving the firing range a bit further along a wide berth.

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It was a beautiful evening to arrive back in Plymouth Sound and anchor in Barn Pool for the night,

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with a rather striking moonrise oncc again.

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From there was just a short hop back to Torpoint, although admittedly one that required careful timing due to the strong tides through the Narrows. And that was that πŸ™‚

 

August 2012 part 1

Posted in Cornwall, Sailing, Unfortunate events, Walking with tags , , , , on August 10, 2014 by maidofmettle

Right, there is going to have to be some hasty blogging this week to catch up to real- time when I go on holiday on Thursday. Do you think we can get through two years of sailing in four days?

Thinking about it, I had a rather tight target to meet when I started sailing in August 2012…

I went straight down from work on the Friday, getting to Maid at about 9pm, and first I needed to do a quick damage check – it appeared since I’d last been down another boat had rammed Maid in the middle of one side, bending two of the stanchions supporting the guard-wires and gouging the paint on the side of the cabin top.Β  That was clearly the limit of it though – looking up plate thicknesses Maid is not built anything like a tank but approaching some landing craft! Slightly concerned about what damage might have been done to the culprit..

With that sorted, I promptly headed off as I needed to sail westward and the wind was currently from the south, but due to swing round more inconveniently.

I was keen to get to Portscatho before the wind change made it awkward was to meet up with Si and Cat, a couple we met on their boat Planet in the French canals nearly 3 years previously. If they weren’t such lovely people I’d say obviously shared experiences like getting stuck in a broken-down lock together obviously make you stay in touch πŸ™‚

Taking a trip back even more years, here we are going through a lock:

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and here are Maid and Planet together one rather misty morning (I have distinct memories of wandering through a French village with 50 yard visibility looking for a bakery and mostly finding grumpy barking dogs).

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Anyhow, returning from even further in the past to 2012, since getting back to Cornwall at roughly the same time as me in 2011 they’d spent much of their time working away building their engineless wooden fishing boat Kensa to Si’s design (more here, and come to that Cat’s equally wonderfully written blog of their adventures onΒ Planet is well worth a look as well – here). She’s thought to be the first fishing boat built and launched in Portscatho for fifty years, and I was keen to get there and share in the excitement.

However, first I had to motor for quite a while to get out of Plymouth Sound late at night and in the dark- there seemed to be little wind and a big swell rolling in, and it was all rather tense – how big would the next swell be, would there be enough wind to sail outside, how hard would it be to get back in to shelter if there wasn’t?

In short, was this really a good idea?

Luckily the forecast held true and I was able to sail off towards Rame Head and then onwards.

I can’t say I had really missed sailing at night. It can be beautiful and peaceful, but mostly you just want to be asleep, not looking around every 15 minutes or half an hour. You can’t relax to the same degree sailing coastally as you can offshore, as you’re nearly always near a hazard of some sort, and the tides are often much stronger. Having to start tacking as the wind changed to blow against us in the night wasn’t ideal in some ways, though it was prove that starting early had definitely been advantage.

Morning found us between the Dodman and Nare Head – we seemed to cover a lot of ground in my final cat-nap and it was slightly alarming when I could first see! Not that I could see much, but enough to definitely not want to hit it.

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The weather gradually cleared from the east – this is the Dodman astern..

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..and this is the view once I’d anchored, unfolded the dinghy and gone ashore in Portscatho. Maid is in the background on the left, with Nare Head above the end of the breakwater, and Gull Rock merging into the Dodman on the horizon.

The big splash is a kid jumping in the harbour- guessing there’s nothing new in that except the wetsuits!

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This is my first peek of Kensa in the shed.

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If you’re looking at the that picture wondering how she ever got out of the shed, quite a lot of us helped, and it was quite a task! (though it didn’t quite match the boatyard owner needing to remove part of his shed to get my parent’s boat out once).

I also went for a bit of a walk along the coast on the Saturday- here’s the view towards Nare Head and the Dodman from above Porthcurnick beach..

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and here’s the view back to Maid and Portscatho from the beach.

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The Sunday dawned rather murkily, but by high tide in the early afternoon it was splendid – right on time!

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As you can see there was quite a crowd. It feels wonderfully decadent to stand around chatting ankle-deep in the sea drinking champagne.

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Before we’d drunk too much it was time to take the Kensa out to her mooring buoy – as well as taking photos my dinghy was quite handy for helping ferry her crew back in.

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Here are Maid and Kensa together.

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Then back to the beach for the continuation of the party, before heading to the Plume of Feathers, etc.

Come the next morning the swell in the fairly exposed anchorage off Portscatho was getting irritating, so I tacked out and headed for the Helford River.

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Cue some more walking – this is one of the beaches on the way into Helford Passage..

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this is the village itself..

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and this is a rather unexpected find of a splendid garden/art exhibition.

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The next day was a slightly brisker sail further down the east coast of the Lizard Peninsula to Coverack, a place I hadn’t been to before.

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I immediately liked it – here Maid is anchored in the background off the little harbour. It’s about the last place in the village to have evening sun as it drops below the Lizard so half the village seems to gather there in the evening, and the fish-and-chip shop in the converted lifeboat station is excellent.

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The next day was forecast to be calm and then quite strong onshore, so I decided I’d better do some motoring in the calm bit while the tide was favourable. I was hoping to pick up a bit of wind once I got a little way offshore but though it teased I had to do a fair bit of motoring to get back round to the Helford.

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There follows a rather unfortunate episode where my wallet ended up spending a tide or two in the mud alongside this slipway before I managed to find it again, though I did feel quite lucky I’d done so!

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Luckily I had enough time to hunt for it, and being anchored in the Helford is a lovely place to be in most conditions.

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After spending a couple of days there I then headed out..

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..past a colossal cruise ship anchored of the entrance to Falmouth..

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..and up Carrick Roads with various other Ocean Cruising Club boats (including the rather lovely Zahlia below) for a party on some pontoons on the river.

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Not before we’d had a bit of an adventure with the King Harry Chain Ferry, which looked to be waiting for more cars but then decided to start moving at a rather awkward moment, leading to some very swift manoevuring under sail and some cursing of the motor boat right in front of me which just jammed its engines straight into reverse πŸ˜€

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Still, we all made it, I had a very good time with lots of very nice and interesting people, as I have found so many club members to be, and entirely failed to take any pictures including any of them, so here’s a token one of Maid and some of the other boats.

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And that’s where we shall pause for a brief (this time, honest!) intermission πŸ™‚