We departed Fowey on Tuesday, and made our way along the south Cornish coast, with its bright green fields on top of rugged cliffs. After a pleasant 25 mile passage we arrived in Falmouth in late afternoon, executing our smoothest arrival yet, as we berthed on the pontoon at Falmouth Yacht Haven. What a wonderful place. It’s the smallest marina we’ve yet been to, but the most cosmopolitan and interesting. We arrived to the sound of an Irishman playing a violin, a Swedish family with their three small children about to set out on a night sail, and others from Germany, France, Denmark, Holland, the US. Over the past few days I’ve spoken to people who have arrived from places we currently only dream of. The Irishman moved off and his place was taken by a yacht full of German sailors, on a passage from Sardinia in the Mediterranean to Kiel in the Baltic Sea. Tonight we’ve been rafted by a Swiss couple who have made land for the first time in nine days at the end of a passage from the Azores. Every boat is unique and amazing. None are shiny or sparkly; all are customised, well used, and well loved. These are boats that people live in, with their wind generators and solar panels, wind vane steering, and clothes hanging out to dry on make-shift lines strung across rigging. The sharing of stories and advice and equipment warms my heart. A couple of nights ago a young woman asked if she could borrow our hose pipe so she could fill her water tank before departing. That led to a long conversation that carried on after dark. This evening Julian went in search of a grease gun so he could finish servicing the windlass. Someone loaned him theirs and he got the job done.
Not only are our neighbours wonderful, but the setting is beautiful. Alas, my camera has died, and so this post is photo-less, and I lack the poetry to describe the beauty of the setting. The buildings in this ancient port town are tall and narrow, tightly packed together with long narrow windows, and steep stone steps connecting the streets close to shore with those uphill. It’s a wonderfully quaint and old-fashioned town, but with incredible restaurants, pubs, delis, book shops, and everything else. The National Maritime Museum houses Ednamair, the dinghy in which the Robertson family survived 38 days in the Pacific after their yacht was sunk by whales in 1972, and made famous in Dougal Robertson’s brilliant book Survive the Savage Sea, as well as an exhibit of artefacts from the Antarctic expeditions of my fellow Kildare-man Ernest Shackleton.
After much detective work, Julian located the source of the leak into the bilges. The floor of the gas locker wasn’t sealed properly and so, not only was water coming in when we leaned to starboard, but gas was also leaking into the bilges. It can’t have been much, because our bilge gas alarm has never sounded. We’re in some disagreement as to whether gas or water in the bilge is most dangerous. I think the former, because at least you can bail water out, but if gas causes an explosion, well there’s not much you can do. So for the past two days, he has been working on sealing the floor of the gas locker, and it is now secure. He’s also serviced the windlass, in preparation for anchoring over the next few nights, and he’s fixed cabin lights, port holes and various other bits and bobs.
To facilitate all this (!) I’ve taken the girls to the beach for the past two days. And boy have we had fun!! People talk about the turquoise waters of Cornwall and I’ve finally seen them for myself. We’ve played on sandy Gyllyngvase beach, and splashed in the water. My only regret was that I was there on my own with the girls, because I longed to get in for a proper swim, and was very envious of all the other people swimming far out. The beach is populated by a lot of impossibly beautiful people – young, healthy, athletic men and women, with perfect bodies and golden tans, sun bleached hair and that certain laid back air that only the very beautiful can get away with. Those mere mortals of us can only look on in awe as they run down the golden sand with their paddle boards under their arms and paddle out to sea, all good genes and expensive dentistry!
Tomorrow we move on again. We plan to spend tomorrow night at anchor either in the Helford River or in Mullion. The forecast is good, the days are warm…maybe summer is finally here?