Friday, 8 June 2018

Calstar: Monday 28th Fowey to Falmouth

Monday 28th May: Fowey to Falmouth 
(22.6 miles, 4 hours 38 minutes under way)

Having spent the weekend in Fowey with old friends from the British Moth fleet, we made plans for Monday to leave them and move further west down the coast to Falmouth.

High water Plymouth was 0543, so that made for a relaxed start to the day, casting off from Berrill’s Yard pontoon in Fowey at 0922 and heading out of the harbour under engine and main across a sun speckled, lazy sea that faded seamlessly at times into an azure sky.

Crossing St Austell’s Bay was a relaxed affair. Never enough whisper of a wind to even tease us with the idea of stilling the engine, we ticked along with the mainsail set for comfort and the 20hp diesel turning a not uncomfortable 2000 rpm, pushing around 4kn through the water (the boat’s log under-reads by about a knot) and assisted by a fair tide and slight sea. Every so often another yacht would pass, or be passed by us, none with any more ambition to sail, all motor-sailing under main alone.

We passed Gwineas Rock at 1050, and rounded Dodman Point half an hour later, with just over 10 miles now behind us.

We passed a sunfish basking lethargically on the still water’s surface. It hardly noted our passing as we slipped past with it about a boat length off our port beam. The tips of its fins lifted and dropped from the water, giving a miniature impression of a couple of sharks circling. Dad and I have seen similar a couple of times off Ilfracombe, but this was the first time Nik had seen anything like it and she was quite intrigued.

We passed another Westerly, this one bigger than us, too far out for me to make out the class initials on her sail, drifting in a valiant attempt to sail. They kept it up for a good twenty minutes as we came up astern, passed and then moved on ahead, but then they too capitulated to the weather of the day, furled their headsail and started to motor-sail with the rest of us.

At 1232 a couple of kids voices cracked over channel 16 on the VHF, shouting “Help, help! We’re going down!”. The Coastguard’s response was immediate; “Children’s voices on Channel 16, do you require assistance, over?”. The message was repeated at frequent intervals over the next ten minutes or so, the lady’s voice remaining professional throughout, but slowly developing an edge to it that could’ve cut glass. Finally, she finished with a “No response received, out” and silence resumed beneath the rumble of our engine.

Forty minutes later Nik suddenly chirped up “Dolphin!” with delight in her voice, pointing excitedly out over the bow.

A solitary creature, she crossed our bows from port to starboard, a sleek form sliding in a graceful arch out of the water and back as she crossed, minding her own business and probably more intent on finding lunch than paying any attention to us. Having crossed our bow, she turned and slipped past us within a boat length or two to disappear astern.

At 1329 we rounded St Anthony’s Head and entered the Carrick Roads. Dad took the helm, I lowered the main, and then guided him in through the mooring fields of Falmouth’s Inner Harbour to bring him, without mishap, alongside the outer pontoon of Falmouth Yacht Haven.

photo: westerly owner's association
We made the boat fast, went ashore to report to the marina office, and then on up to one of the three harbour side pubs to find a shaded seat overlooking the harbour, and lunch.

Just over four and a half hours under way and, remarkably similar to the leg from Plymouth to Fowey, just under 23 nautical miles covered.

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