We’re in Falmouth, Cornwall making our final preparations to leave the UK in the next few days. The UK leg of our adventure went by quickly, despite sailing close hauled into the wind for most of the passage …. but we made some cheeky observations!
It’s been eventful. Since leaving Gosport on 9 August we’ve overnighted in Studland, Portland, Brixham, Dartmouth, Salcombe, Plymouth, Fowey and now Falmouth. And so far we’ve spent two nights in a marina during strong winds and nine nights at anchor. We’ve covered over 213 nautical miles with around 50% of that sailing, the rest with some assistance under motor. We would have loved to have sailed more, but the wind has not been in our favour … we haven’t seen much sunshine either!
Studland … was windy, very windy! And we’re not talking baked beans.
Portland … was a treat, despite the continuing strong wind, as we welcomed on board a friend who arrived with an emergency hamper of farm eggs, home grown tomatoes, fishing lures, bread rolls and damson gin! We also had a chance to go blackberry picking.
Brixham … was quiet and not windy and a perfect over night pit stop.
Dartmouth … was an impressive toy town with a steam train, a car ferry pushed by a tug, Britannia Royal Naval College on the hill and dense woodland on either side of the river. There were boats of all shapes and sizes covered by inventive bird scarers, perched on by large flocks of unfazed gulls! This is where young, brave Cornish gulls would try to catch our mackerel bait. We were closely followed by these fearless youngsters who put on incredible acrobatic displays before attempting to swoop down on the metal bait with their claws. They didn’t succeed and we caught another mackerel for a pre-dinner amuse-bouche!
It was also here we saw Pazienza – designed by the same yacht designer as Bagheera – Laurent Giles. She was originally built for an Italian Princess in 1957 and Paul had the privilege of exploring the Caribbean and Venezuela on her in 1988 and crossed the Atlantic on her in 1989. She’s a Bermudan Cutter made of teak and stunningly beautiful.
Salcombe … we anchored in a calm and beautiful spot at the top of the river surrounded by rolling green hills. In stark contrast the town was a high-octane water sports hub and the cheeky girls in Salcombe didn’t wear pants!
Fashion tip: To achieve the ‘fresh off a paddleboard/dinghy/speedboat’ look simply apply lashings of dark brown fake tan to your butt cheeks, put on an oversized sweatshirt and accessorise with a very small long-handled handbag. Finish the look with back combed hair, for a ‘just been through a wind tunnel’ effect and make sure your bare feet are dirty … you can wear black Havaiana flip flops if absolutely necessary. Don’t forget NOT to put your pants on!
I created a major fashion faux pas by naively wearing my jeans in the pub, but as I had already lost my land legs … grabbing at walls and shop window fronts to keep my balance … I decided against whipping them off in the loos, and brazened it out with my bottom fully dressed.
It was here I also learnt the rule of needing to have a set of emergency clothes next to you during the night in readiness to fix banging halyards, remove flapping towels and and early morning visits from the marina harbour master!
Plymouth … was like sailing into a party. We anchored in Cawsand Bay and were surrounded by senior citizens dinghy racing in the setting sun, young people climbing up the rigging of Tectona (an old sail training vessel built in 1928 in India by local people with the help of elephants!) and colorful fishing boats off out to sea. Running a little low on fresh food supplies by this time we made a Provencal White Cabbage and Lentil bake (in a large frying pan) … sounds awful, tasted gorgeous … Paul said he’d have it again!
Fowey …. was gorgeous and where we were gently woken at 5am by a Cornish male chorus of cock-a-doodle-doos from the surrounding farms. It was real treat to hear them … even the one that kept going till gone 11am and was clearly in need of a Strepsil and a some sunglasses by the time we left.
Falmouth …. is the perfect stop for our final preparations. On our first night we enjoyed a Queen tribute band playing on the quayside and another firework display to round off the end of Falmouth Week. And the next morning we had our breakfast watching Dragon Boat racing, to the theme tune of Hawaii Five-O!
But … as I write this we are still anchored in the bay waiting for an opportunity to go onto a pontoon. We need to refill with water, plug into the electric to get the fridge going and go shopping for food supplies .. and though we are using the dingy to get ashore it would be good to moor up for our last few nights.
So … what’s next?!
The wind predictions change daily, but the current plan is to cross the western approaches to the English Channel to Brittany and hopefully spend a day or two visiting Camaret-sur-Mer at the end of the Crozon peninsula. When the weather window feels right we will then cross the Bay of Biscay to A Coruna, Spain. The first crossing should take around 24 hours … the second is more likely to be around three to four days. Thankfully we are being joined by a highly experience sailor, good friend and former Royal Navy Captain, Bruce Martin, to help us with these long voyages. At a time when we are still testing the boat and ourselves we are very pleased to welcome him on board.
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