Archive for Kensa

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).

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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.

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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..

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or Porthluney..

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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..

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..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…)

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The sky was starting to look rather interesting..

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..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.

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Here we are back in Portscatho again.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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I had another invigorating swim the next morning

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before a bit of wandering round the harbour.

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

The next day’s weather looked rather more unpredictable…

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

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The seafront was even busier

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though not quite as intimidating as the racing fleet!

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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.

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

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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..

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

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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!

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The next day I headed up the Fal

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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.

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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!

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(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

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

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as well as the essential rope swing.

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Summer 2014 Part I – dolphins galore!

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

(Yes, the date at the top is right – realised I had various drafts saved and have finally forced myself into getting up to date!)

It took a while to get Maid of Mettle into the water in 2014 – it turned out that moving house, being flooded with work and doing a fair amount of maintenance on Maid were even more of a hindrance than living in Grimsby.

Still, it seemed I wasn’t the only one a bit behind on things – there are normally four posts marking the channel across the ‘Bridge’ in Plymouth Sound (actually a shallow ridge between Drake’s Island and Mount Edgcumbe, further cluttered with old anti-submarine defences), but one seemed to be missing. It might not actually be a bad thing if it stayed that way – the bright yellow buoy in its place is easier to spot!

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Having got out of the strong tides in the Narrows and into a bit more wind I set sail and headed out round Penlee Point and Rame Head towards the anchorage off Looe. It was tempting to head off course when I spotted dolphins leaping inshore off Rame Head, but I prefer to let them come to me if they want to.

It was a beautiful sunny day for tacking towards Looe..

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and admiring the rest of the coastline – much of the area between Looe and Rame Head is very pretty, but with little shelter and being off the direct route between harbours and anchorages I don’t often see much of it.

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And here we are anchored off Looe – fairly full beach but deserted anchorage, easy to sail in and drop the anchor on sand. The north-westerly wind had required a fair amount of tacking to get here but having done that it was nice and sheltered..

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..and even calmer when the wind dropped later in the evening.

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The tide wasn’t due to be fair for a while the next morning but with beautiful conditions I decided to get going anyway – first running down past St Mary’s Island..

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and then tacking along the coast again. There was a fair amount of company, from this little coaster carrying a digger..

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..to some more dolphins!

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Tonight’s anchorage was a new one for me – Gorran Haven, just between the Dodman and Mevagissey. It was once a larger fishing port than Mevva but is now a lot quieter, though there are a number of small boats moored within the harbour wall and hauled up on the beach.

As I expected with a north-westerly wind it was nice and sheltered again. This time I did launch the dinghy and rowed ashore for a wander around the village.

I also started to figure out why I kept seeing dolphins – there were fish swarming so close in that people could just grab them out of the harbour!

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I decided to go for a walk out to the Dodman the next morning while waiting for the tide. The walk up from the harbour is pretty steep to start with!

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It got rather windier as I got round to the more exposed part of the headland – enough that the gulls were starting to find it heavy going at times in the gusts.

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At ground level this little fellow was probably less affected..

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The cross was instituted by a local rector – besides the spiritual aspect it serves as a very useful daymark for navigation. Many shipwrecks have been partly attributed to one headland being mistaken for another, especially in poor visibility.

This was of course a very prominent location – signalling stations have been located here in medieval times, as well as the Napoleonic War and both World Wars.

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There were plenty of boats coming the other way around the Dodman with the tide behind them. I was hoping the front would pass and give nice weather by the time I started heading the opposite direction.

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A bit more local history – you can also still see medieval strip field boundaries here.

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Going further back to the Iron Age the earth embankment on the right here, known as the Bulwark, was constructed to form a ‘cliff castle’ on the promontory – the other sides are naturally quite secure!

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(I just like this picture. There’s nothing like a good cow to improve a foreground.)

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The weather was indeed clearing as I walked through Penare back down to Gorran Haven, now showing definite signs of life.

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With a fair tide and sky it was time to head on, into the same chilly north-west wind  – again gliding gently out of Gorran Haven before tacking along the coast.

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The next big headland west of the Dodman is Nare Head (though it doesn’t stick out enough to get a line in ‘Spanish Ladies’), looking nice and dramatic here in the afternoon sun.

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A fine sail got even better when we were joined by a school of dolphins while sailing into Gerrans Bay. With Maid sailing beautifully they had a great time playing in the bow-wave..

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..occasionally doing laps of the boat..

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..and generally having a good time as far as I could tell, and I was delighted to share in it, both taking pictures and just leaning on the forestay and grinning wildly (no, I didn’t take a picture of that).

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Eventually they headed off to gobble some more fish and I dropped anchor off Portscatho – another relatively exposed coastal anchorage, but perfect in these conditions. It also happens to be the home of my friends Si and Cat, who I first met on Maid in the French canals a few years ago, and it’s nice to try and surprise them – this time I found Si outside the Plume straight away.

As an extra bonus he was planning on taking their fishing boat Kensa out the next day and there was space to me to join them. I was especially keen to go having followed their blog of her construction after we got back from our respective voyaging.

The next morning dawned golden, with Nare Head standing out against the Dodman in the background and Gull Rock offshore on the right.

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Here is Maid with the little harbour in the background – again a short wall sheltering an assortment of fishing boats and dayboats.

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..and here is Kensa..

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It was a very good day out on Kensa with Si and their friend Debs – chilly wind but plenty of sunshine and even more importantly plenty of mackerel. I had left my camera behind though, so we have a bit of a gap on images until later – this is the colourful view down across the beach from the top of the slip later on (probably after the post-fishing pint).

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I have very fond memories of drinking champagne stood knee-deep in the water celebrating Kensa’s launch the last time I was here, but the sou-westerly wind and swell at the time made the anchorage rather rolly when I eventually rowed back out to the boat. With the wind now seemingly set in the north-west spending a while here and exploring nearby anchorages seemed very appealing.

(yes, this kind of thing is part of the reason why I never actually get as far as the Scillies despite them being a nominal target for most of my holidays… They’ll still be there for a good while yet.)

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.  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 🙂

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 on 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 😀

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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 🙂