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Falmouth 29th July

Yacht Quintet
Visitors' Mooring

29th July, 2005

<-Fowey 26th July Newlyn 31st July->

Here we are in Falmouth, almost ready to set off across the Irish Sea in a little boat, having already travelled approximately 650 nautical miles and visited twenty ports but probably just about one quarter of the way round. It's all a bit daunting really.

We arrived in Falmouth from Fowey three days ago after a short voyage which started so promisingly but ended after nearly three hours of motoring through a rolling sea, in drizzle and with appalling visibility yet again.

I woke that morning at 7.00 to the pitter patter of raindrops on the coachroof and turned over and went back to sleep. Then woke again at about 9.00 and got up and put the kettle on for coffee.

After a leisurely breakfast we called the water taxi and went ashore armed with soap, towel and change of clothes and headed for showers at the Yacht Club.

Royal Fowey Yacht Club is a narrow building on the waterfront, located down a steep alley and sitting right on top of a cottage that one almost has to walk through to get to the yacht club. The residents must either always join in the late night drinking at the club or be stone deaf if Fowey is like all the other sailing clubs I know! It does have good showers even if they require a pound in the slot machine to fire them up. Thank you, Royal Fowey Yacht Club.

When we reemerged, clean and sweet smelling, the drizzle had intensified, but it was still a little early to hit the pubs, even for us, so we strolled through the town, checking out the pubs for later and peering through rain-streaked shop windows. We called in at the chandlery but could find nothing more than a replacement bulb for the anchor light. Although we did buy dinner on the way back: corned ox tongue and spring cabbage.

Tummies were starting to rumble so we headed for one of the many Cornish pasty, what I have always known as 'tiddy oggy', shops which every Cornish seaside town is littered. I have since learned that tiddy oggy is a potato pasty for the very poor. That recipe may be very useful to me when we finish this trip unless someone finds me some work pretty soon after I get home.

Clive chose a miniature pasty and a sausage roll, having been very impressed with a similar looking sausage roll he found in Brixham. I went for the huge 'super-pasty'. We stood under cover in the old fish market, watching the rain pour down, thinking that we might not actually be leaving if the weather were to carry on like this all day. By the way my pasty was delicious, as was Clive's miniature version but Clive's sausage roll was a big disappointment. Not just 'not very enjoyable', it sat on his stomach all afternoon and made him very uncomfortable.

Having consumed pasties we went in search of some liquid to wash it down and could not believe it when we realised that the pub on the front, the King of Prussia, was having major renovation during the height of the holiday season. Wouldn’t you think that the new owners would wait until the end of the season, firstly to get the best profit from the best part of the year and secondly to see if changes are even warranted, changes which just reduce profit. Beats me. So we went to the Ship which had a cosy bar with a huge, roaring fire. That show’s you what a wonderful summer we’re currently having.

Eventually the rain paused long enough for us to make the dash to the pier for the water taxi and back to Quintet and our voyage to Falmouth.

Falmouth is just twenty miles or so from Fowey and with a beam wind and a propitious tide we were hopeful of a fast passage. And indeed it was so for the first hour and a half. Quintet surfed down the waves, surging south at just less than seven and a half knots.

The wind was a little too powerful for our full rig, so after Clive had suffered massive helm pressure for half an hour and was starting to think that his suits would never fit again as he was sure that his left arm was longer by at least a foot, I was finally convinced to roll in a bit of a reef. And we were still doing more than six and a half knots and so much more comfortable.

However within minutes of me suggesting that, at this rate, we would be in the pub before 6.00o'clock, the wind died, died in the arse, and left us wallowing in a left over sea. Bugger! We started the engine and hauled down sails and motored southwards, as the Cornish coast disappeared once more into the mist and drizzle.

Click for a larger imageClive did spot a rather handsome gaff ketch coming north and asked how come he was still sailing but I did point out that at that speed he had to be motoring and was just airing his sails. As he got closer it was obvious that his sails were just slatting and flogging as he motored against the tide and slop. I always wonder why people pay huge sums of money for expensive sails and leave them up and flogging when they motor. Perhaps they just want to make sure that sailmakers never go out of business.

As we rounded Saint Anthony Head and motored into Carrick Roads, Clive asked the name of the black rock which sits in the middle. The 'Black Rock' I replied.

'Yes' said Clive. 'The black rock'.

'That's right.' I said.

'What's right?' said Clive. And so on.

The black rock is imaginatively named 'Black Rock'.

We went around to the Falmouth Visitors’ Yacht Haven but it was already pretty full with boats breasted two and sometimes three out and a few boats actually anchored in amongst the moorings. So we headed up river for Falmouth Marina.

Falmouth Marina weren’t answering their phones. I waited and waited but no reply. I called again and this time a somewhat harassed sounding gentleman informed me that Falmouth Marina was full but they could raft us out three or four deep. So we returned to the Visitors’ Haven, where prices would hopefully be lower, and tied up alongside another Bavaria.

I had put the tongue in the pressure cooker as we first approached Falmouth so dinner was almost ready. I just had to put on potatoes and stir fry cabbage with some onion and bacon and we were sitting down to a hot ox tongue dinner in no time at all. Then it was off to the 'Chain Locker', the pub nearest to the dock, for a few more pints of the Doom Bar and then bed.

On Thursday we woke late again and with sore heads, having planned to stay in Falmouth for a few days to rest and provision before the big leap across the Irish sea. So we had another leisurely breakfast and headed into town to spy out the shopping, we were not going to shop until the day we were leaving, and to find somewhere for dinner and, oh yes, I still needed a dentist for my displaced crown.

It was not a bad day. Periods of thin sunshine probably outweighed the time it was raining. We had pasties again for lunch and then found a wonderful, old-fashioned pub, The Seven Stars. They even had beer tapped on the keg in racks behind the bar. And it was good. We agreed that this would be a good place to return to in the evening, with no juke box or gaming machines and 'real' beer. I then went off to find a dentist and make an appointment for Friday morning.

Actually a bizarre thing happened on Thursday. When Clive walks through a shopping centre, his stride lengthens, he looks neither to left or right and he marches, yes marches towards his shop of choice. Well, on Thursday we were heading for Tesco and suddenly, without warning, Clive suddenly veered off and positively jogged into a shop. What could this mean?

I have watched Clive ‘shop’. It’s not a pretty sight. There’s no joy in it. For Clive it’s obviously an infrequent, usually painful but necessary chore like getting your bikini line done, or trimming your eyebrows (not the right choice of analogy for Clive, of course).

Clive demands short sleeved shirts of girth appropriate to his solid (but much diminished) girth and with two pockets. No pandering to fashion here. And Hawkshead do them. Actually Clive nearly didn’t ‘shop’ as they didn’t have exactly the type of shirt that he last bought there three years ago, but I convinced him that a minor change of style, a small fabric change, might offer exciting variation to his wardrobe. And eventually he relented. This is a very rare photograph.

Dinner on Thursday evening was at the Nepalese restaurant, handily located next door to The Seven Stars. The food was ok, certainly a little different to Indian food I have known and loved, but not worth travelling to Falmouth for. However The Seven Stars definitely is.

The Seven Stars is a pub that time has passed by. Not only are there tapped barrels behind the bar, a very battered bar with faded cream paint barely clinging to its panelled front and an antique red terrazzo floor, cigarette machines and other modern accoutrements are not visible, and the lunchtime clientele make Clive and me seem young. The evening clientele while including a fair number of the more experienced, also includes quite a few whipper snappers, many of them incomers from the north (the first person we spoke to comes from Wolverhampton, and even supports Wolves, poor thing!).

The Seven Stars is even more unusual in that its licencee is a vicar, the Reverend Barrington Bennetts. (The Reverend Bennetts is reported to have said there is not too much cross over between his two flocks!)

We spent a marvellous evening in happy chatter listening to risqué stories of a retired merchant mariner and agreeing violently on the outrageousness of mooring and even anchoring charges in England. And before we knew it we were being shepherded out into the evening mist. The witching hour was approaching.

Friday morning I was up early. A dentist was booked to reaffix my missing crown. I had allowed lots of time to shower, have a light breakfast retrieve my crown from its hiding place and be there in lots of time. But could I find the tooth. I know where I put it, but it was not there and is still lost. So off I went to the gum prodder without the spare part.

It turned out that the missing crown would have been less than useful as there was insufficient time other work which would need to be done before the offending part could be reaffixed. So a temporary patch has been applied and, I am assured it will last until I can go back to see my dentist (I have actually forgotten who my dentist is).

I went back to the boat and met Clive and visited the fantastic Trago Mills shop in Falmouth. They sell everything except purple pens to write corrections on waterproof charts, plastic colanders and string bags. We were, of course, looking for purple pens to write corrections on waterproof charts, plastic colanders and string bags.

After returning to the boat for cold tongue sandwiches (and a couple of beers) we shopped for provisions for our Irish Sea crossing. So how long is it going to take a little boat to get to Ireland? We need to know because we have to tell the coastguard something before we leave. And we need to know how much food we need. We'll just have to get out the log rules and slide tables and work it out I suppose. And maybe starve for the last couple of days of the crossing.

Once we got the laundry back, at about 5.00o'clock we cast off from the pontoon at the Visitor's Haven and motored round to the Fal River to anchor for the night. We plan to leave for Newlyn early tomorrow and anchor off the beach and wait for the right winds to cross to Ireland. With this weather we could be there for weeks.

Now I'd better start cooking dinner, pork and leeks with apple in cider. Sounds ok.

Les Sutcliffe

<-Fowey 26th July Newlyn 31st July->