Saturday, 7 September 2013

Brighton to Newlyn has been rather different to the journey so far.  We have had highs and low (metrological and emotional), three crew changes, chance meetings and, as we near the end of this Round Britain Challenge, a feeling for the first time of looking forward to the end.  Maybe that’s because of the 20 boats that started this Challenge, Capraia and Minstrel (also from Milford Haven) are the only two who haven’t finished - despite the celebrations at Cowes marking the ‘official’ end of the adventure.

In Brighton Sarah joined us, bringing racing experise for the Cowes' weekend  and an enviable network of family and friends on the south coast!

We waited in vain for the wind to change direction but in the end battled our way to Portsmouth against a strong and unrelenting head wind reaching our destination 14 hours later!  It's times like these that question our loyalty to a gaff rig!  A least we had the benefit of the Lyrid Meteor Shower as darkness fell and, having arrived in the early hours, we qualified as a 'short stay' visitor at the expensive Haslar Marina - bargain!

The next two days were spent in and around the Solent with a sunny day anchored off East Head in Chichester Harbour where two south coast gaffers were cleaning their bottoms - no doubt in preparation for Saturday's race! - we walked to West Wittering in search of an ice cream!  We arrived at Cowes Yacht Haven in good time to find a berth near friends and to avoid the mayhem of 250 gaffers squeezing their way into every available space.

The OGA Jubilee Celebrations in Cowes, which consisted of three days of events, racing, parties and competitions, was extremely well organised and hats off to the OGA South Coast Committee.  It was a special and unique event but somehow the special camaraderie that had been built up over the months amongst the Round Britain boats was watered down by the formality of the weekend.  We had an emotional farewell on Sunday morning with some final songs from David, (from Syene) and Else (from Windbreker) pictured here at Friday’s party.  Two talented musicians who, with others, captured the spirit of this summer through spontaneous and unforgettable song and music.

As the gaffers dispersed we bid farewell to Sarah and welcomed back Rose and Tamsin for the next leg back to the West Country.  It’s a shame, but I suppose inevitable that the friendliest, most helpful and welcoming receptions that we have received around our coast have been from the least populated areas where people arriving by boat are still regarded as seafarers seeking a safe haven rather than a commodity to boost profit.  It’s a relief to be leaving the South Coast.  We have a brief stopover in a crowded anchorage in Poole Harbour where friends Tom and Sarah come on board for a rowdy supper and we discover that people are drilling for oil nearby! 

The next day it's past Old Harry and Harry’s Wife where our own on-board Geography teacher is able to pass on some knowledge!

We have a night in Weymouth to drop off Tamsin, and around a tranquil Portland Bill to Dartmouth where Rose also has to leave to return home.

In Dartmouth we anchor opposite Darthaven Marina, where we bought Capraia in 2009, in the midst of the busy waterborne traffic working its way up, down and across the Dart.  A favourite was the last remaining coal fired  paddle steamer, the Kingswear Castle, built on the Dart in 1924 but spent 47 years operating out of Cowes and Chatham before returning to the Dart this year. 

With a new crew, cousins Peter and Tristan, we are off to Newton Ferres for a brief stopover keen to leave the crowds.  The next day we have a Force 6 in the forecast but with two fresh and competent crew we leave for an exhilarating sail and a chance for Capraia to gather her skirts once again as we lay a course for Polperro. Cornwall at last!
The next day we have an excellent sail to St Mawes arriving early enough to enjoy a swim off the boat in glorious sunshine and then a run ashore for even more glorious Fish 'n Chips washed down with Betty Stogs of course!

The next morning we cross over to Falmouth - for a shower at the welcoming Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, crab sandwiches for lunch and an afternoon in the Maritime Museum.  In the late afternoon we venture up the Fal to Malpas and anchor in complete and welcome stillness and silence.

We set off early on the ebb and make the short passage to the Helford river where we anchored off Polgwidden Cove near Trebah which has a garden described as the ‘Garden of Dreams’ – a steeply wooded ravine full of tree ferns, waterfalls, and rhododendrons leading down to the beach.  We were surprised to come across a memorial for members of the 29th US Infantry Division who died in the D-Day landings.  7500 men embarked from Polgwidden Cove - incredible given the size of this small cove.

Next stop Coverack where we walked to Black Head and encounter the Terence Coventry Sculpture Park, my favourite of was 'Jackdaws on a Chimney' which reminded me of home!



Our last stop before the Lizard is Church Cove, which used to be the base for a prosperous pilchard fishery.  The old lifeboat house was built facing across the slip so that the boat had to be turned through 90 degrees before being launched.  For our family crew it's the church, St Wynwallows Church, Landwednack that is of particular interest being the resting place of several ancestors and with strong family ties.  In Church Cove we were offered hospitality from a couple staying in the cottage opposite the old slipway.  After a few minutes chat we discovered that we both worked for the same organization many years ago and had numerous shared acquaintances - a small world indeed!


After a full day at Church Cove (which also included witnessing the launch of the Lizard Lifeboat to attend the stricken French Trawler Scuderia), we rounded the Lizard Peninsular and enjoyed a gentle evening sail.  Once again we enjoyed a mackerel supper before arriving after dark in Newlyn Harbour.

In Newlyn it's thank you and farewell to Peter and Tristan as they head back to Lac Leman - it's been a great week. 

I have a couple of days in Newlyn waiting for a favourable tide and a decent forecast before embarking single-handed on the final leg around Land's End to Milford Haven via Padstow.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Patrick. It has been great following your journey and I only wish I could have shared some of it with you. Tim