Archive for the Music Category

Reflections

Posted in Cooking, Cornwall, French canals and rivers, Music, Photographs, Sailing, Surfing, the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores, the Canary Islands, the Madeira archipelago, Walking, Wildlife with tags , , on August 19, 2016 by maidofmettle

5 years ago yesterday night (yesternight?) I sailed between the Wolf Rock and Gwennap Head / Tol Pedn to the accompaniment of fireworks exploding somewhere over Land’s End (yep, I’m claiming they were for me 😉 ).

And 5 years ago today I dropped anchor in Mullion Cove after leaving the Azores on the 3rd of August.

2011-08-19 #09 Mullion Cove (Custom).JPG

That was the beginning of the end of two years of living on Maid of Mettle, just over a year and over two thousand miles with Chris and Caroline and another 10 months or so and a couple of thousand miles on my own. It seems a while ago now..

So, what don’t I miss?

  • handling wet and very cold ropes on the canals, not to mention stamping my feet to keep the circulation going while motoring in a wet and chilly France. This may have had a permanent effect – warmth is definitely one of the things I do miss!

2009-11-10 #01 Vitry-le-Francois to St Dizier (Custom).JPG

  • rough seas, when you know things may well get worse before they get better and there is no escape till they calm down – while they were only a small part of the trip, and on the whole a price well worth paying, they do leave some lasting impressions. I seem to have blanked nearly the entire trip from Madeira to Tenerife from my memory after a few days when I didn’t feel well, despite the fact that looking over some photos and videos there were clearly some nice parts to the journey as well. Some passages you just want to end.

2010-10-25 #06 Madeira to Tenerife (Custom).JPG

And what were the best things?

  • the freedom – the time to properly enjoy cooking, to go walking and get to know places, to meet people, to take up new hobbies such as surfing and playing harmonica, or simply spend at least an hour in the surf to end up with one half-decent picture of a breaking wave – this is special, more so than exotic places.

2010-10-18 #07 Boaventura (Custom)

2011-03-22 #21 (Custom)

Thanks Jon for that photo

2011-02-07 #04 (Custom)

and thanks Quiksilver for that one

2010-08-02 #04 Praia da Culatra (Custom)

Though that said:

  • discovering beautiful places, and experiencing things I never knew existed. I could name something in any region we went, but the following stand out particularly:
    • the peaceful waters of the Guadiana,

2010-05-20 #6 Vila Real to Alcoutim (Custom).JPG

  • the levada canals winding among the peaks, valleys and terraces of Madeira,

2011-06-15 #40 Boca da Corrida to Barreiras (Custom)

  • the hill country of northern Gran Canaria

2011-02-13 #11 Cruz de Tejeda to Artenara (Custom)

  • and the hot springs of the Azores

2011-07-12 #37 Sao Miguel - Poco da Dona Beija (Custom)

  •  the people – while getting to spend time with my family and friends in this country again is fantastic, for meeting and getting to know new people it’s much easier while sailing (though the same effect can be true coastal sailing in this country, especially in the west country).

2011-01-18 #01 (Custom).JPG

  • Also in the first part of the trip having so much (okay – yes, sometimes too much at times!) time with two of my best friends

2010-09-07 #01 (Custom)

  • the sailing on passage – there is a real satisfaction in taking plenty of time and patience to the boat set up to travel as safely, quickly and comfortably as you can, and a peaceful night sail miles from anything is a delight. There are similar pleasures in coastal cruising but it’s a different mindset as you usually have to change things much quicker!

2010-09-05 #01 (Custom)

  • the accomplishment of offshore passage-making – it’s a rare opportunity,  definitely a special feeling, and one that lasts whereas so often in other fields there is always the next deadline lurking.

2010-09-07 #06 (Custom)

  • the stars at sea – an incredible spectacle. You could reach out and touch them, but you could never count them (they’re not easy to photograph from a small boat either)
  • dolphins – very hard to predict when they’ll turn up, and there is something utterly magical about their presence, bringing an instant and lasting smile (that got crossed off after seeing dolphins several days in a row sailing west down the Cornish coast, culminating in them playing round the boat for ages sailing into Portscatho in the evening sun)

2014-08-17 #36 (Custom)

  • the food – the Madeira market is the greatest for spectacle, but my favourites are those in Alcoutim (tiny but welcoming, frequently including a massive bunch of coriander as a gift) and Las Palmas (enormous and well worth browsing all round), the challenge of provisioning and cooking on a boat in general and especially on passage, and the many regional delicacies. Except the barbecued dried squid, which I’m not convinced was actually edible

2011-06-17 #03 (Custom)

You’ll notice many of those overlap – a symptom, I think, of a fundamentally different lifestyle. Though that said, there are many things I have taken (or try to) from the time away:

  • the willingness and confidence to try new things – without some of the experiences while away I’m not sure I’d ever have ended up playing for my football team, or sung at my local folk club (to be fair that’s pretty rare even now)

2014-07-29 (Custom)

  • friendships with people I/we met while away. While I hear from others further afield, it was a special pleasure to be present when Si and Cat launched Kensa, the fishing boat they’d built since returning from their extensive travels in the Mediterranean

2012-08-19 #19 (Custom).JPG

  • and more than that, I think I’ve managed to stay in better contact with at least some friends since being away and having that bit more time and impetus to keep in touch via email etc when not meeting face to face (if you’ve read this with some surprise, disappointment and/or offence, please drop me a line and we can start putting things right! 🙂 )
  • enjoying a continuing connection to offshore sailing through various friends; the members of the Ocean Cruising Club – I am still amazed and humbled that they awarded me their Rose Medal for 2011, just being part of a club containing so many people who have achieved extraordinary things is an honour; and the general collective of sailors coming and going from and enjoying the south-west

2014-08-24 #04 (Custom).JPG

2011-08-30 #11 St Mawes - Wylo II (Custom).JPG

  • speaking of which, discovering south Cornwall as a cruising ground – it is a very special area

2014-08-23 #23 (Custom).JPG

It seems a good time to repeat this sentiment from 2010, for adventures near or far 🙂

IMGP9434

“A toast to onward voyages on land and sea”

(that last picture and inspiration for the style of post come from Caroline’s last entry 400 days to get there 400 minutes to get back)

Advertisements

2015 Part II

Posted in Cornwall, Fun, Music, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2016 by maidofmettle

In September I had a couple of weeks off  and my fingers crossed for fair winds at the start to sail to the Fal for the Burning Man at Trelissick, and was delighted when the weather systems obliged. The look of the clouds over Dartmoor to the east gave additional motivation to head the other way!

2015-09-16 #01

It was a bit of a chilly passage, not unpleasant but not remarkable. It did seem like quite a long sail to St Mawes compared to recent jaunts around Plymouth Sound.

The following morning off St Mawes was rather more memorable, with a spectacular double rainbow.

2015-09-17 #01

Amanita is anchored on the left – Mike and Janey had just come down from Percuil and stopped for breakfast before we sailed across to Falmouth to enjoy a folk session in the pub that evening.

2015-09-17 #02

The wind had dropped for the row into the pub – a really beautiful evening.

2015-09-17 #06

The next day I went for a sail out in the harbour, admiring the local boats (generally from behind).

2015-09-18 #02

Anchoring off Trefusis proved a bit of a challenge – with the strong winds and a bit of tide some of the boats already there were roving around all over the place (one in particular seemed determined to chase both Maid and Amanita away) and finding a clear spot with the right depth of water took a few attempts.

The next day however was much more peaceful – no equinoctial gale today!

2015-09-19 #02

I landed for a bit of an early morning walk..

2015-09-19 #07

..before heading up Carrick Roads as soon as the tide went slack. With the wind very light I wouldn’t have got anywhere with it against me, but neither did I want a strong current behind me as I wouldn’t have been able to steer!

The compromise choice mostly worked, though I ended up putting the engine on just before the bar at Turnaware and motoring in to Channels Creek. Of course, another benefit of coming early was being able to anchor before the hordes arrived.

2015-09-19 #22

It didn’t take long for the rest of the fleet to start coming in. I was very impressed with Mike rowing Amanita in (and relieved when they made it sideways over the bar without touching!).

2015-09-19 #24

There were a lot more still to come – in possibly even less wind at times! There were some more impressive feats of seamanship in sailing into the anchorage, quite something to watch.

2015-09-19 #25

And later on the Burning Man was a splendid event again – lighting it with flaming arrows certainly built up the suspense!

2015-09-19 #32

There was a huge crowd this time – say three or four hundred compared to a tenth of that when we’d been to the first event a couple of years ago.

The next morning started off similarly still causing some boats some difficulty in getting away. We’d decided to head upriver so could wait for a bit more wind.

2015-09-20 #05

In the meantime, I went for a bit of a walk ashore and was rather impressed with this multifunctional boat storage 🙂

2015-09-20 #06

Later on we sailed upriver, being suitably wary of the King Harry chain ferry..

2015-09-20 #08

.. to anchor in the mouth of Roundwood Creek. The bottom shelves quite quickly here and having made a couple of quick tacks in very little room I decided it was best to just drop the anchor and see where we ended up! Happily it worked out well.

Once the tide had risen enough to get ashore we went for walk and blackberrying expedition on Roundwood Quay.

Sailing in the upper Fal is usually tricky due to the high tree-lined banks, and the trip down the next day was no exception. A lot of the passage was more a case of pointing in the right direction than sailing, with the occasional gust along with various obstacles (not to mention the banks) to keep things interesting! It was a relief to get to more open water again at Trelissick, though I still had to be very careful of the shallow bar at Turnaware.

2015-09-21 #03

However on reaching Carrick Roads the wind got up properly – in fact enough to drop one of the jibs and take a reef in.

2015-09-21 #04

I hadn’t really decided where to stop, so I took a trip into Falmouth and out again and was eyeing up a spot I’d never used before in open water at the edge of Carrick Roads when it became clear the others were heading for a spot beside the breakwater, so I decided to do the same.

 

The sunshine was interspersed with some quite spectacular showers- I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rainbow quite this flat before!

2015-09-22 #02

It seemed a good day to stay here enjoying the company and exploring ashore between showers.

2015-09-22 #01

The next morning the fleet dispersed. Steve headed west to Ireland (and then Spain), Mike & Janey were going back to the Solent and Nick & I to Mevagissey.

With light following winds forecast I figured I’d need special measures to keep up, so I folded the dinghy away on deck and dug out one of the larger foresails which I don’t think had seen action since somewhere between the Azores and Scillies in 2011.

I actually overtook at one point…

2015-09-23 #04

…but when we turned to have the wind dead behind us Wylo‘s gaff rig came into its own and made it very much even despite the fact she was still towing a dinghy. Here we are just leaving the Falmouth entrance.

2015-09-23 #06

..with Janey & Mike in hot pursuit in Amanita..

2015-09-23 #08b

and here we are approaching the Dodman..

2015-09-23 #10

There can be fearsome overfalls off the point, but with a fair tide and wind we sailed right in under the headland and stone cross…

2015-09-23 #11

..before continuing around the coast past the Tall Ship Royalist to anchor just north of Mevagissey, and enjoying a lovely evening ashore with friends of Nick’s.

2015-09-23 #13

Dawn the next morning was spectacular, especially over the sea..

2015-09-24 #01

..but also gently lighting up the houses above the harbour at Mevagissey.

2015-09-24 #02

It started as a very peaceful sail, but with some slightly ominous looking clouds.

2015-09-24 #05

This one looked particularly disturbing. The wind and waves were both getting up a bit and I hove to for a while to make lunch before getting going again..

2015-09-24 #10

..by which time Nick had caught up.

2015-09-24 #12

After carrying on under just the mainsail for a while debating whether the wind was still increasing I eventually decided the conditions were fine to get the big headsail out again and resumed rapid pursuit.

2015-09-24 #15

We both shot past Rame Head in splendid conditions half-expecting a squall which didn’t appear then- inevitably it came just as we wanted to turn north.

2015-09-24 #17

At least we were out of the big waves and rolling, but it was quite a tough beat into Cawsand – a very satisfying sail but good to drop the anchor at last.

The next morning I had to get up early to travel away for the weekend- a nice sail at first, but unfortunately one where I needed to get the engine on – plans do get in the way of things at times!

2015-09-25 #01

 

Summer 2014 Part II – fish!

Posted in Cornwall, Fun, Music, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2016 by maidofmettle

This picture I took while walking north of Gerrans Bay shows why there were quite so many dolphins around – the wind is calm and the patches of ripples on the water are all teeming shoals of fish swarming in the bay – a spectacular sight and hopefully encouraging for local ecology and businesses alike. IMGP2901 (Custom)

I did quite a bit of walking in the area over the next few days – very tempting with another spectacular dawn over Gull Rock… IMGP2745

and time for a little excursion across Gerrans Bay.. IMGP2747

.. to add some interest to the view from the Nare Hotel. I didn’t even charge them. IMGP2750

..but I did enjoy the rather lovely Carne Beach (after I’d finished hauling the dinghy up it anyway).

IMGP2751

Lovely and clear though the water looked, the wind was still very chilly, so rather than being tempted into a swim I headed out along the coast path.

IMGP2754

Besides enjoying the walk I was also making note of where the rock and/or seaweed patches were to avoid them when next anchoring off. I also peered down into various coves – this one used to be a refuge for fishing boats, but probably for hauling them up on the beach, the anchoring prospects didn’t look ideal.. IMGP2762

Here is the ‘summit’ of Nare Head, looking back west across Gerrans Bay to Portscatho.. IMGP2770

..and here is the view from it down to Gull Rock, and away to the Dodman in the east. IMGP2773

After exploring a bit more on land I headed back to the boat and sailed a similar route, but this time a few hundred yards offshore- there was still room to sneak between Gull Rock (on the right, yes it does look more like a whale, yes I probably have said that before, yes I suspect more gulls than whales are seen on it, indeed) and the mainland. IMGP2818

The first place we headed past was Portloe –  I was thinking of stopping, but was rather put off by having to tack suddenly to avoid a fishing buoy moored by great length of floating line laying on the surface, and then losing the wind completely close to the cliffs. IMGP2821

Besides, it was a fine day for sailing still. I didn’t think the possible anchorages off either Porthallow..

IMGP2822

or Porthluney..

IMGP2826

would be all that sheltered in this wind, and was proved right, with the nominal north-westerly funnelling along the coast. However it did prove surprisingly co-operative for sailing back west again, just managing to glide through the passage between Gull Rock and Nare Head again before tacking back into Portscatho for the evening. IMGP2829

The next day I rowed ashore early on..

IMGP2865 (Custom) (2)

..having got rather used to a quick early morning swim after hauling the dinghy up the beach (leaving a rather curious track it must be said…)

IMGP2871 (Custom) (2)

The sky was starting to look rather interesting..

IMGP2873 (Custom)

..but I decided it was worth risking a walk round the bay again, this time from Portscatho to yesterday’s start point of the Nare Hotel (and back). The coast path mostly goes along the top of the cliffs, but there are several places where you can drop down onto the beach for a change of scenery – including some surprisingly lush vegetation here: IMGP2899 (Custom) (2)

It was another day that got steadily better – ideal for walking with sunshine and a cooling breeze.

IMGP2915 (Custom)

Here we are back in Portscatho again.

IMGP2930 (Custom)

I couldn’t resist going for a quick sail across the bay in the evening sun – just across the bay and back before popping into the Plume and making plans for another fishing expedition the next day.

IMGP2934 (Custom) (2)

This time we get full technicolour with Si having recruited both Debs and Helen as crew already and signed me on as helmsman/photographer. Unsurprisingly they have lots of pictures of Kensa from afar but very few close-up, and not while working, given the general issues of being busy, and fish, and fish scales..

So here we have everyone else working away while I practise the art of steering with one hip while taking pictures – it was good the conditions were still perfectly sheltered, and that I had a little practice at steering Kensa already – she is a well-behaved boat to handle, but very different to the Maid.

IMGP2959 (Custom)

We found a good spot on the way out, and the ice box in the middle was filling up pretty quick. It’s a fine job when the weather’s good and the fish are biting – for other times a lot of resilience and some alternative income options are as vital as ever.

IMGP2967 (Custom)

Helen and Debs are fishing in the foreground here with Portscatho in the background. The mainsail is set again to take as back to Portscatho – not that the fish had stopped biting but there was no point catching more fish than Si and Cat could be pretty confident of selling fresh.

IMGP2974 (Custom)

Back in Portscatho, I’d say this was a marathon gutting session in progress, but in fact it was impressively quick.

IMGP2998 (Custom)

And here is some of the catch in close-up.

IMGP3001 (Custom)

Since I am useless at gutting fish we gave me something to do by accidentally setting one dinghy adrift, so I rowed off in pursuit. By the time I got back pretty much everything was sorted except lowering the mizen sail and putting the cover on.

IMGP3004 (Custom)

I had another invigorating swim the next morning

2014-08-22 #01 Portscatho (Custom)

before a bit of wandering round the harbour.

2014-08-22 #02 Portscatho (Custom)

and then heading back to the boat to get on with some jobs aboard.

The next day’s weather looked rather more unpredictable…

IMGP3031 (Custom)

but happily cleared as boats started arriving for the town’s regatta day.

IMGP3033 (Custom)

The seafront was even busier

IMGP3036 (Custom)

though not quite as intimidating as the racing fleet!

IMGP3043 (Custom)

I had been half-persuaded into doing a bit of racing (this was of course in the pub..) but happily ended up with the even better (and less scary) plan of meeting up with a friend and his dad for lunch in Portscatho and then sailing them across the bay in the afternoon.

IMGP3044 (Custom)

Doug proved a very competent helmsman, and it was a quick and smooth trip across the bay.

IMGP3046 (Custom)

A quick drop-off at Carne Beach, and then I set sail again to sail round into Carrick Roads to be ready to take the tide up the Fal in the morning. More beautiful sunshine sailing round the coast of the Roseland..

IMGP3052 (Custom)

..and in past St Anthony’s Head lighthouse..

IMGP3057 (Custom)

and beautiful evening sunshine for the arrival in St Mawes, where I rowed ashore again later to meet Doug & family in the sailing club for a coffee. This social life business can require some co-ordination!

IMGP3073 (Custom)

The next day I headed up the Fal

2014-08-24 #01 (Custom)

albeit with some amusing hi-jinks in Carrick Roads when my badly tied knot allowed the dinghy to escape, and inevitably it headed out of the main channel and into water too shallow for Maid before I could get to it. Happily some quick examination of the chart revealed the bank was shallowest next too the main channel and I could motor round the back of it to grab the errant dinghy before it ended up ashore. The alternative would probably have been trying to beg assistance from somebody else with a dinghy or else anchoring off Turnaware and swimming ashore to walk round to it (not appealing at all with that day’s weather), and either way being very late for the party.

Party? Ah, yes – this was for an annual Ocean Cruising Club gathering up the Fal – a good chance to meet others with similar interest, and usually vastly more experience, in long distance cruising, and generally enjoy excellent company.

2014-08-24 #04 (Custom)

Admittedly this was a relatively small gathering, as the poor weather had led to a rearranging to the main event to occur down in Falmouth, but very good fun nonetheless.

The next day I dropped back down the Fal a little way, to an anchorage off Roundwood Quay with a rather curious view downstream!

2014-08-25 #03 (Custom)

(the Fal is commonly used as a lay-up for ships that aren’t being used at present)

Later a couple I’d met down this way before tied up at the quay to dry out and do some maintenance work, and we had a lovely walk further inland and round the peninsular.

Thenext morning I did some more rambling, this time with a camera. There are some beautiful areas of heath here

IMGP3114

along with the remains of a fort on the promontary – mainly just visible as a ditch and earth bank now –

IMGP3131

as well as the essential rope swing.

IMGP0075

Later on the sun had come out and I headed a bit further down the river to anchor off Turnaware Bar. This is a nice sheltered spot in the easterly wind that was forecast

IMGP3136

and also a splendid base for rowing ashore to pick blackberries and enjoy a walk looking down on Carrick Roads,

IMGP3138

and also to blink at the site of a very large ship in quite a small channel – one of the cargo ships that had been mothballed up the Fal heading back to sea again.

IMGP3145

I also had a very nice coffee with a couple I’d met at the Ocean Cruising Club gathering in previous years who’d attended the rearranged party in Falmouth.

I still hadn’t had enough sailing for the day though, so decided to head down Carrick Roads in the evening.

IMGP3148

The sailing conditions were beautiful, with plenty of interesting boats to admire as well, from a lugger heading up river..

IMGP3157

to several of the Falmouth Working Boats enjoying their race night. Some of these are still for oyster dredging, but they’re also very keenly raced, especially as they carry a huge amount of sail.

IMGP3160

The sunlight was just turning golden when I headed in to St Just – again a beautifully sheltered spot in an easterly wind, but with the added benefit of free anchorage, and a very easy sail across to Falmouth for the Tall Ships festival starting imminently.

IMGP3183

September 2013 part 2

Posted in Cornwall, Fun, Music, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2014 by maidofmettle

The following day I went for a bit of a sail and decided to anchor off the Molunans again having spied Dave already there.

2013-09-25 #02 St Just to Little Molunan

We went for a circular wander on the Roseland, up towards the lighthouse and looking back over the boats..

2013-09-25 #03 St Just to Little Molunan

..before heading east, and then inland and circling back to the beach again (rather different weather to the last time I was here).

2013-09-25 #05 St Just to Little Molunan

I’d taken a slightly longer route on the return trip going right round opposite St Mawes, and was rather surprised to find Dave spear-fishing when I rowed out. Thoughts of moving to get away from the Eye of Sauron..

2013-09-25 #07 St Just to Little Molunan

..and the incessant foghorn were soon dismissed in favour of chat ranging from sailing to woodworking to northern Finnish tribespeople and a delicious fish supper (though the foghorn did get rather irritating later on).

The next day we left the hooting behind and sailed north before parting ways off St Mawes, with Dave continuing northward..

2013-09-26 #03 Dormouse Dave

..while I headed in.

2013-09-26 #07 St Mawes

The next few days were largely spent sailing between St Mawes and Falmouth, with friends and free anchorage in St Mawes and music sessions in Falmouth. Generally it was easy going one way…

2013-09-26 #08 St Mawes to Falmouth

..and harder getting back!

2013-09-27 #02 St Mawes

The sun only seemed to come out later on.. (still windy though).

2013-09-27 #01 St Mawes

There was also the rather amusing circumstance of being introduced to someone I’d known years previously by a mutual acquaintance- eventually we both worked it out!

A couple of days later a couple of us headed to anchor on the Penryn River and dinghy up for the local ‘River Revels’ festival. I was rather jealous of Nick’s sail getting up there…

2013-09-29 #01 Penryn River Revels

Unsurprisingly I don’t have any pictures of the blindfold rowing race I came fourth in, but I should think if you imagine this sculling race with more contestants and more chaos you wouldn’t be far off:

2013-09-29 #02 Penryn River Revels

After fish and chips several of us went to a music session in the nearby Famous Barrel, which I’m rather ashamed to say I never discovered when Chris & I were working on the boat in Penryn.

2013-09-29 #04 Famous Barrel folk session

I tacked back to St Mawes again the next day (can’t believe the amount of easterlies in that holiday) to meet up with Si and Cat

2013-09-30 #01 Falmouth to St Mawes

and then popped back to Falmouth for some music in the evening.

2013-09-30 #07 Falmouth

The next morning with the wind changing round I decided to go to the Helford, but sailed into St Mawes first to see if anyone was about and was joined by another friend for the sail over. Definitely a good photo-taking opportunity..

2013-10-01 #03 [Steve]

with thanks to him sailing rings round Maid though the weather was looking rather ominous. Remarkably, we both made it to the Helford before it started chucking it down.

2013-10-01 #12

The following day looked the most sensible to head back to Plymouth, though it was rather grey

2013-10-02 #01 Helford to Millbrook

and strangely I’m not sure I’ve ever been seasick so many times as on that trip, even nearing Mazagon or between Madeira and Tenerife when I was definitely worse off overall.

Rame Head and Penlee Point were both very welcome sights indeed, with Plymouth Breakwater heralding very sheltered water.

2013-10-02 #03 Helford to Millbrook

In the end it was a lovely sail in to anchor off Millbrook.

2013-10-02 #04 Helford to Millbrook

For a change the next day I headed up the River Tamar, which I’d never properly explored very far. My first stopping point was very sheltered and isolated, with a steep wooded slope to the south and low-lying meadow land to the north.

2013-10-03 #01 Pentillie Hole

The Tamar is still very broad at high water, creating some spectacular reflections.

2013-10-04 #02 Cotehele

I continued upstream the next day when the tide had come about half way up, so there was reasonable depth, and also so it had more to rise for when I inevitably did get stuck – actually within about 100 yards. Perhaps I had tried to start too early, but then I was hoping to meet people at Cotehele, where I anchored off the quay just about on time.

2013-10-04 #03 Cotehele

We went for a very nice walk round the estate, and then some refreshment in the tea rooms – which also contained this rather useful detailed chart (you can see the amount of mud at low water)!

2013-10-04 #05 Cotehele

Later in the afternoon I went further up by dinghy, as far as the railway viaduct at Calstock.2013-10-04 #13 Cotehele

The following morning was atmospheric to say the least..

2013-10-05 #01 Cotehele

and just as much so when the sun finally started breaking through..

2013-10-05 #07 Cotehele to Cawsand

leaving some rather curious misty effects behind.

 

2013-10-05 #12 Cotehele to Cawsand

By the time I got down to the Tamar bridges it was bright sunshine

2013-10-05 #15 Cotehele to Cawsand

and shortly afterwards I was able to start sailing

2013-10-05 #18 Cotehele to Cawsand

back down the river and out over the ‘Bridge’ (a narrow channel through former anti-submarine defences) to the anchorage in Cawsand Bay.

2013-10-05 #19 Cawsand

There was plenty going on ashore

2013-10-05 #21 Cawsand

and a chance for a bite to eat before setting off to walk across the peninsula and over to the chapel on Rame Head.

2013-10-05 #23 Rame Peninsula

 

I wasn’t concerned about the evening drawing in as I’d done the walk before and the coast path is generally quite hard to get lost on, so very much appreciated the sunset, both from Rame Head itself

2013-10-05 #27 Rame Peninsula

and looking back towards it from the east.

2013-10-05 #33 Rame Peninsula

Cawsand and Kingsand are two of the most beautiful villages I’ve seen in the dark as well.

2013-10-05 #34 Cawsand

2013-10-05 #35 Cawsand

2013-10-05 #37 Cawsand

The next morning I got up early

2013-10-06 #02 Cawsand & Mt Edgcumbe

to go for a walk in the other direction in the Mount Edgcumbe country park

2013-10-06 #11 Cawsand & Mt Edgcumbe

this time enjoying the dawn light shining through the trees

2013-10-06 #12 Cawsand & Mt Edgcumbe

as well as some beautiful views of the city of Plymouth

2013-10-06 #18 Cawsand & Mt Edgcumbe

lots of deer

2013-10-06 #26 Cawsand & Mt Edgcumbe

and Plymouth Sound.

2013-10-06 #28 Cawsand & Mt Edgcumbe

Then back towards Cawsand and Kingsand

2013-10-06 #31 Cawsand & Mt Edgcumbe

for a quick afternoon swim, and then motoring back out of the bay

2013-10-06 #32 Cawsand

and up to a mooring at Torpoint to head home again.

While I didn’t actually sail all that far it had been a fantastic holiday – really nice to have all that time off at once.

In many ways it removed the pressure to do many long trips, and let me focus very much on what would be happening in the next couple of days, especially good with so many people I knew or got to know around, which was one of the main joys of it.

[Autumn 2011] Falmouth festivities and a new home port

Posted in Cornwall, Fun, Music, Photographs, Sailing with tags , , on February 28, 2014 by maidofmettle

Picking up from the last blog, 2011 saw the 350th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to the town of Falmouth, following its rapid rise from a hamlet at the confluence of the Penryn River and the Fal to one of the most important harbour towns in the country. It made for quite a celebration.

2011-10-05 #01 Falmouth Charter Day (Custom)

The town’s role in the Civil War was a particular focus, with Pendennis Castle having been the one of the last Royalists strongholds to fall. The 155 day siege was happily significantly compressed in the reenactment, with the bicycle cavalry being a particular highlight.

2011-10-05 #03 Falmouth Charter Day

And of course you can’t go wrong with a cannon or two.

2011-10-05 #04 Falmouth Charter Day

(The structure in the background is the fascinating National Maritime Museum Cornwall)

I very much enjoyed the live music in Falmouth as well – here are the excellent Aberfal Oggymen (now The Oggymen as people kept thinking they were Welsh) singing with the crowd packed into the Chain Locker after their performance in the Shipwrights’ Bar

2011-10-08 #13

and this is Falmouth Shout putting on a great performance in The Front.

2011-10-08 #12

In fact it was all good enough entertainment to persuade me to stay on in the area for the town’s annual Oyster Festival, though I’d now decided to keep Maid on the River Tamar (on the Devon border) for the next year.

So in the meantime it was back to enjoying walking round Falmouth, both along the coast

2011-10-08 #07 (Custom)

and inland

2011-10-08 #10 (Custom)

Except of course for the recovery time after gatecrashing a game of beach football. Turns out however much walking you’ve been doing up and down the Cornish coast, it’s still not adequate training. Good fun though.

2011-10-08 #09 (Custom)

I also roamed further up Carrick Roads again, back to St Just (seen here in rather murky weather to say the least, in fact Maid’s anchor light looks to have come on already!)

2011-10-13 #16 St Just

and to the splendidly named Feock, where I rather admired the use of a redundant post-box

2011-10-12 #02 Feock

before returning to Falmouth for the aforementioned Oyster Festival.

2011-10-16 #01

This is a big event here as it marks the start of the dredging season in one of the world’s last traditional oyster fisheries, with the harvest undertaken under sail and by hand punts. It’s also grown to become a celebration of Cornish seafood and culture in general, and draws a big crowd.

(The figure hovering above the crowd is probably Neptune, but no, I have no idea who the man on the left is either)

2011-10-15 #04 Oyster Festival (Custom)

There were cookery demonstrations

2011-10-15 #03 Oyster Festival (Custom)

obviously good food

2011-10-14 #14 Falmouth Oyster Festival

the hotly-contested oyster-shucking competition (a race to extract a bucket of oysters from their shells, for kudos and probably a fair few pints of Betty Stoggs over the year)

2011-10-15 #05 Oyster Festival

and more live music – this was my first introduction to the fantastic Dalla

2011-10-15 #02 Oyster Festival - Dalla

I caught up with Mike in the bar at some point once he’d brought Phantom Lady round from the Helford- here they are, just to show I did check up on the boat occasionally:

2011-10-15 #18

and here are Falmouth Shout belting out sea shanties again, this time joined by the redoubtable Betty Stoggs from Skinners Brewery.

2011-10-15 #19 Oyster Festival - Falmouth Shout

After all that I thought I’d actually better get around to trying some oysters by the Sunday, especially as I never had despite growing up 10 miles away from Whitstable, and having helped my parents gather them at low tide at least once.

2011-10-16 #02

After that it was time to enjoy the racing, with magnificent skill shown on a very congested course, especially considering the sail area and especially the bowsprits of the traditional working boats.

2011-10-16 #09

10 feet of wood projecting from a boat smaller than Maid looks quite a risk at times!

2011-10-16 #06

Sadly, it was soon time to pack the dinghy up

2011-10-16 #52 (Custom)

and sail out to take the tide east towards the Tamar

2011-10-16 #56

with the help of the tide being especially important as there wasn’t much wind for a while!

2011-10-16 #60

Still, there was no ocean swell and rolling here this evening, but a beautiful sunset

2011-10-16 #66

followed by a handy light breeze overnight – very welcome along with the very gentle sea as I hadn’t done any night sailing since getting back from the Azores. I can’t say I’d missed it, but apart from the lack of sleep (especially marked from not being in the routine and being close to obstacles) it was a very easy passage.

Dawn came somewhere off Rame Head

2011-10-17 #04 Plymouth Sound

to welcome Maid to her new home at Torpoint

2011-10-18 #01

So Maid had a new home – and so did I – time to go and start work again.

A strange feeling – it had been a fantastic couple of years away, including the few months of autumn back in the UK, but by this point I was keen to start work again, and it was getting towards the time of year where being based in a house and an office rather than a boat would seem fairly appealing. So more anticipation than sadness, especially as I would get to holiday in Cornwall the next year.

Kernow a’gas Dynnergh

Posted in Fun, Music, Photographs, Sailing, the English Channel, Walking with tags , , on September 26, 2011 by maidofmettle

Or welcome to Cornwall. Just when I thought I’d run out of tricky foreign languages to try and learn..

I did say I’d try and catch up on what I’ve been up to since I got back as well as carrying on with the story through the Azores and back to here. You can use the tags and categories to get things to appear in a more sensible order if it gets too confusing.

So, my first stop in England, sorry, Cornwall – many would say there’s definitely a difference – was Mullion Cove. It’s a little bay to the west of the Lizard, looking back across Mount’s Bay to Penzance and Mousehole, provided with a very little shelter by Mullion Island just offshore.

It was idyllic in the afternoon – I paddled ashore to the beach visible just astern of Maid..

and also said hello to some locals out for a days fishing, who very kindly provided me with a very fresh fish for dinner.

Unfortunately it didn’t stay this idyllic – the wind got up rather more than forecast and when the tide was going the opposite way to it the shelter of the island wasn’t really enough to make it all that uncomfortable. I’d been just about to enjoy a celebratory drink of honey rum & lemon juice but decided I’d better leave it for the next day in case I had to make a hasty exit.

The next morning was much less pleasant – grey and wet, and the sea still quite lumpy. I left straight after the early morning forecast with the aim of tacking around the Lizard while the tide was still favourable.

At this point, the wind promptly dropped away to nothing, so I ended up motor-sailing for an hour or so into a rather lumpy sea, in the rain..

Happily, that only lasted an hour or so – then the wind returned, I was able to turn eastwards and ride the waves rather than plunging into them, and the tide was helping to rush Maid eastwards around the point rather than trying to take her northwards into the bay.

Time for the sushi I’d made with some of the fish yesterday…

The sun even came out later, providing a lovely sail around to the Helford River on the opposite side of the peninsula, just south of Falmouth. The wind got lighter again, but with some additional sail and flat water it wasn’t a problem this time.

In fact the opposite was the case when the wind suddenly increased again just as I was approaching a lot of moored boats – cue a rapid removal as all sail as I didn’t fancy storming through them at that speed since I’d only visited the river by land before..

I did at least have verbal instructions, as there was a good anchorage just upstream from Mike & Carolyn’s Phantom Lady – I’d been planning on on stopping here since saying goodbye to them several months before in Las Palmas on Gran Canaria.

This is the view looking downstream from there. It’s certainly a beautiful and sheltered spot, and it was great to see them both again over the next few days.

I ended up staying a bit longer than I’d planned to see the Helford regatta, and did quite a bit of exploring round the local area in the portabote, the kayak and on foot.

The banks of the Helford are home to some lovely woodland

– and some very nice little villages.

and have inspired at least one novel – Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchmans Creek, the bottom of which you can see below.

A lot of people seem to have been grumbling about the summer weather this year, but it was mostly pretty nice there, though some mornings were rather misty, almost like those French canals…

Definitely porridge weather..

Fortunately the evening before the regatta was beautiful, as the village stores in Helford was hosting a paella night. Didn’t I leave Spain a while ago? I think about 300 people were there, and very well catered for – below you can see just one of the three dishes…

I think this is pretty much the final fling of the village social calendar before all the second-home owners disappear for the winter – it was certainly a good party

and an excellent adventure finding my way back out of the village and through the woods to the dinghy afterwards, with a long line of us winding our way down muddy paths having forgotten to take torches..

The regatta day itself looked like it might turn out rather wet, but fortunately it cleared again by the time the tide had risen enough to allow all the races to be held in the creek in front of the pub. The one-oar paddling race and backwards rowing competitions were definite highlights.

The most gruelling event was probably a two-man effort – rowing to one place, dropping off a runner who had to go up a steep hill and back through Helford to get to another landing spot in the other direction before being rowed back to the finish.

Afterwards most people moved up to a cafe near the sailing club for refreshments and music before the fireworks display.

Mike had said the fireworks would probably be very good, and he was definitely right. It might not have been quite on the scale of some of the Portuguese displays, but for a spectacular 8 or 9 minutes it was pretty close.

The next day I went ashore to pick a few more blackberries and then set sail about an hour before low water. That meant I had the tide with me to get down to the bottom of the Helford River, and slack water and then tide with me to take me up Carrick Roads and the Truro River to an Ocean Cruising Club gathering.

I did make a bit of a spectacle of myself on arrival with a couple of aborted approaches to the pontoon before deciding I definitely needed to approach from the other direction, at which point Maid pretty much berthed herself while I moved the fenders around.

I was also decidedly late, so it was a dramatic entrance all round! It had been a very nice sail though, and all the people I knew (Liz, Mark & Chloe on Lone Rival, the boat ahead of Maid) or knew by association and occasional correspondence about pilot book revisions (Anne on Wrestler, moored outside Lone Rival) were planning on staying overnight.

Although they’d pretty much finished lunch this did have it’s advantages, as the food and drinks tables were moved down alongside Maid a few minutes after tying up.

Everyone staying for the night met up again later on for dinner with some additional guests helping themselves to Chloe’s very tasty punch.

Mum made all of these three at various times, and they’ve done a fair bit of sailing between them – Scubus (left) racing across the Atlantic with Liz and Anne, and lots more cruising since, Cornelius going all round Africa in Lone Rival, and Josh having accompanied me down to the Canaries and back.

The next day I rather remarkably managed to establish mobile contact with Si & Cat who we’d met last year in France, and sailed back down the Fal and went past St Mawes to a beautifully peaceful and sheltered anchorage at Percuil

before joining them for a trip to the famous ‘Plume of Feathers’ in Portscatho. It was quite strange to see them again on land, with both our boats having their masts up and everything, but another very good evening.

The next day I dropped down to St Mawes in the evening to catch up with Nick on Wylo II, who I’d last seen in the Canaries (and before that in Penryn not long after we’d bought the boat), and marvel at his photos of classic boats racing in Antigua this summer. He designed the boat himself, and has since sailed her around the world three or four times at least. Falmouth harbour is another crossroads similar to Horta – I’d seen one of the boats in the last photo there as well though I’d never spoken to the owners.

St Mawes itself is a very picturesque little town, still with a couple of working fishing boats though it is largely a rather genteel seaside resort now.

From the other side of the Percuil it’s a short and very scenic walk around the coast

to St Antony’s Head, which eighties kids’ TV aficionados may be excited to learn was the home of the Fraggles.

The water is beautifully clear, if a little chilly. In fact the first time I went swimming it felt like I’d imagine rolling in broken glass would be, but much nicer once you stopped, though after that it’s seemed much more pleasant.

Brrrrrrr!

The cliffs are also a great place for watching boats racing in the harbour, especially the traditional working boats which set a huge area of sail.

I sailed across and anchored off Falmouth for a few days (Maid is on the left). It was quite strange approaching Custom House Quay from the sea when I could really only remember it from the land – it is tucked right round the corner near the docks, almost in the shadow of the warhips. I suspect anchoring there would have been banned by now if it wasn’t such a long-standing tradition.

From there I got a rather early bus to Helston to see the Cornish Gorsedh, or ‘Gathering of the Bards’ – hence my use of Cornish in the title. This is the equivalent of the Welsh Eisteddfod, and was attended by guests from Wales and Brittany as well as the surprisingly numerous Cornish bards.

The weather was unfortunately living up to Celtic tradition, with some additions to the ceremonies required – well done for your poem in Cornish, efforts in schools or promoting Cornish culture, we’ll just tip the rainwater out of your cup; sit down here, I’ll just tip the water off it..

The music and singing was unsurprisingly very good, though it did come as something of a relief to enjoy it indoors out of the drizzle after the main ceremony had ended.

Thankfully the weather didn’t stay like that… This is Gyllngvase beach on the southern side of Falmouth after a walk around the castle.

It’s not all that cheap to stay off Falmouth even anchoring, but it was handy to have hot showers and things, and I did a lot of washing and a little shopping before sailing back to Percuil to check it would be a good place to leave the boat for a few days. It was certainly a good test of it, with near gale force winds roaring up the river. It was certainly noisy, but not really rough, and none of the four of us anchored there shifted.

I felt pretty happy things would be fine with the weather calming down as I left to go for a job interview and meet up with friends from my old office, before before meeting Mum in London and coming back down again. I did get a bit more tense on the way back to the boat, but she was still happily just where I’d left her when we got back.

It was another very misty morning the next day when we’d planned to sail to Falmouth…

We dropped the anchor off St Mawes first for lunch in the hope it would clear, but ended up going for a very slow and gentle sail with lots of practice on the foghorn (not sure it’ll help much with the harmonica though). It was quite strange as being able to see something would’ve been the only sense that really told you the boat was moving!

Still, we made it across to Falmouth, and tied up ahead of the boat I’d crossed paths with in mid-ocean on the way back from the Azores. Having chatted with Richard via VHF radio and satellite phone it was nice to finally see him at closer range than half a mile!

We had a lovely meal with Liz, Chloe and Anne, and a few days later welcomed Mark, Liz and Chloe onto Maid for an evening.

Mum and I also did some walking – both on the Roseland peninsula

along St Just creek

to the beautiful little waterside (well, at high tide anyway..) church

and around Pendennis Point at the entrance to the harbour

as well as having a look in the impressive National Maritime Museum.

When Mum went back home I went with her a few stops up the branch line to visit Penryn, where Chris & I had first bought Maid several years ago. It looked fairly similar

though most of the people who’d been there had moved on, though I did find one of our further neighbours, and further down the bank another acquaintance I’d made in the Canaries.

Back in Falmouth I met up with Si and Cat again, who’d sailed over in Planet for a quick stop

before we both sailed back over to St Mawes. Since this was the first time we’d actually seen each others’ boats under sail after meeting a couple of years ago we obviously took a few photos..

Here are Maid just leaving Falmouth…

and Planet setting out across Carrick Roads.

We met up again a few days later for lunch after I’d walked over to Portscatho – a slightly odd experience as it’s not that long after leaving the banks of the Percuil that you can see the sea on the other side of the high ground –

and then again for dinner on Maid the following day. I’d made a bit of an expedition of getting blackberries for dessert, walking up over the fields around the Percuil

to Place Creek

and along to St Anthony’s Head before taking the other path along the coast back to the dinghy via Towan Beach.

It’s not that convenient a place to keep the boat, which is something I’ve been spending a while considering, but it’s a very nice place to holiday.

Madeira part 2: no eagles and no seals, but a lot of other things

Posted in Fun, Music, Photographs, the Madeira archipelago, Walking with tags , , on June 24, 2011 by maidofmettle

That afternoon I did actually leave my berth, but just for a different one as a local boat needed to go where I was. Also, I suspect the harbourmaster of having a sly sense of humour..

It’s actually a much nicer berth, a lot further away from the noise of the dredger, and a lot less exposed to waves or swell coming into the marina.

That evening I went into town for one of a series of concerts laid on as part of the Festival of the Atlantic.

Oxalys were very good – you can hear some of their music using the player in the top right-hand corner of their website (click here).

Afterwards I wandered through Funchal to admire the city in the dark and take a few photographs

when I happened on another event – I think it was the final selection of ‘Miss Funchal’.

Sometimes I wonder if this place ever stops… It was definitely time for me to wander back and go to bed though.

With it having been dry for quite a while I decided it was finally time to tackle a walk I’d always been tempted by last year, but never managed to do as it’s supposed to be decidedly slippery when wet. This was climbing Penha d’Aguia (Eagle Rock) on the north-east coast.

It’s not actually that high – the top is at just under 600m – but it is steep on all sides, towering above the surrounding villages and valleys as well as the sea. It was hard to get a clear shot showing it this time – rather too close! – so here’s one from last year:

On the way there the bus went under the stilted extension to the airport runway (before this was built it was known as ‘the aircraft carrier’ for the extreme difficulty of landing), which still hasn’t quite lost it’s novelty.

There’s also a boatyard under here, taking advantage of an excellent opportunity to be able to store even very large boats under cover without needing to take their masts down.

Next we went past Machico, the first settlement on Madeira when it was colonised in around 1420. Some local legend attribute the name to an English sailor, Robert Machim, who may have been shipwrecked here with his mistress.

The town – still Madeira’s second largest – is just out of view on the left, but you can see the fine artificial beach and the harbour below the steep hills to the north of the valley.

The north coast wasn’t quite as sunny this time, but the view from Cruz down to Porto da Cruz was still quite impressive..

..as were the views back over the nearby valleys while zig-zagging up the side of Penha d’Aguia

The path was steep..very steep (up the rocks and around to the right).

Now the next line would normally be something like ‘but it was well worth it for this amazing view’. But I’m not going to write that, not to be contrary or innovative, but just because when I was about half-way up the entire rock got completely enveloped in cloud. At least it was cool.. I waited a while at the top to see if it cleared but I didn’t have all that long without having to rush down to get the bus back to Funchal.

At least it didn’t clear again just after I’d left the top – here’s the view back up from near the bottom.

There were still some fine views along the north coast though, just visible under the cloud.

The bus journey back was spent discussing long-distance sailing and invasive plant species affecting England and Sweden with a Swedish botanist. Next year it will surely be time to go back to Brownsea Island and chop down some more rhododendron..

The next day I did some jobs, some wandering in Funchal, and went to another concert in the evening, which I really enjoyed. This one featured the Quinteto Pavao e Victoria – you can see a video clip of it by clicking here.

As it was a Saturday the concert was held early, so I had time to make dinner and then go out again. The weather forecast made it very tempting to take a walk…

Bay of Funchal: thunder, lightning imminent. Shepherds delighted, sheep probably scared.

Rain of fire soon. Visibility good becoming locally poor. Sea state slight to burning.

and the climax was certainly fitting.

On Sunday I did another thing I’d never got around to last year, and made an expedition to the old fishing village of Camara de Lobos. So Mum, has it changed much? I’m guessing the swimming pool is new, and much of the housing up the cliffs of Cabo Girao in the background.

But the harbour itself and the boats may well not have changed a great deal.

There’s a slipway, but a lot of the fishing boats are still just pulled up the stony beach. There’s plenty of activity there still, from painting boats (which seems to be a whole family Sunday picnic occasional), to making repairs and drying fish..

..and also a lot of locals in the bars and public spaces, often playing cards or dominoes. The plaque on the side of that building marks where Winston Churchill famously came to paint watercolours – I wonder if he was distracted by off-duty fishermen? Given the tales about him being very well supplied with Madeira wine by one of the leading merchants I wouldn’t be surprised..

The town centre itself is very pretty

though sadly there’s no longer any chance of seeing the seals (Lobos de mar, or ‘sea wolves’) the town is named after, except in this statue:

Well, and various branding…

Moving swiftly on, Cabo Girao really towers over the western end of the town – it’s a pity it was so cloudy when we visited it last year! The houses on the side and the replica of the Santa Maria (or fully La Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción) below give some idea of the scale of the cliffs.

The original Santa Maria was bought second-hand by Columbus and renamed to serve as his flagship for his first voyage across the Atlantic, though she didn’t make the return passage having been wrecked off Haiti. This replica was built in Camara de Lobos, and now does regular day trips from Funchal, as well as voyages further afield for events.

From there I took the bus back to the edge of Funchal, and eventually managed to find my way to the Miradouro do Pico dos Barcelos, on a hill in one of the western parishes. This was a bit a struggle at times in the hot sun – it was off the edge of my street map and not really covered on my walking map, but I eventually found it.

You can see pretty much all of Funchal from there, from the Igreja de Sao Martinho above Ponta da Cruz

to the city centre and harbour

and the hilly northern outskirts.

The two-towered church in the foreground of that picture is where I was actually heading for, as it was the first of a series of parades for different saints that are held throughout June. So here is the Igreja do Santo Antonio from a bit closer up:

This is a much more local affair than the ‘Festival of the Atlantic’ – part religious festival and part party. There were lots of stalls selling food and drinks, both around the church and on nearby roads.

I tried a sande de carne de vinho e alhos for dinner. For the princely sum of two euros you get a very tasty sandwich of incredibly tender pork marinated and cooked in wine and garlic – delicious! And for dessert a churra. Presumably the sister snack of the churro, rather than just being deep-fried batter it has a chocolate centre.

The streets were lined with people ready for the parade later:

but unfortunately I didn’t see much of the parade proper as I wanted to make sure I got the last bus (that I knew how to find!) back.

But I did walk up the route where all the groups were queueing up to start (I’d been a bit apprehensive about succeeding in that, but it worked out fine), so saw the impressive costumes that way even if I didn’t get to hear all the music.

You could still see the church very clearly from the bus stop – I had a while to wait around, but luckily my interpretation of the timetable hadn’t failed me and it duly appeared to take me back down to Funchal. I don’t think I’d ever been in a Madeiran bus going downhill in the dark before. It’s an experience.