Antipole cruises

Storms in Fowey, the Fal & Helford rivers and St Michael’s Mount

Fowey is a lovely estuary and another sailing mecca. It is an ancient port with a long history of privateers, pirates and smuggling, and, more recently, the export of china clay. The River Fowey winds a long way through a cleft in the hills deep into Cornwall and its source on Bodmin Moor. Still today ocean-going bulk carriers are backed up the narrow river to the clay loading wharfs.

We spent an interesting day ashore exploring the town and walking out over the cliffs at the estuary mouth. Click on the photo to see a rather fine panorama of Fowey, the estuary and St Catherine’s Castle at the entrance.  After the walk the Royal Fowey Yacht Club refreshed us before supper in The Galleon.
Yet more bad weather threatened, so we moved further up the estuary and round some bends to very snug shelter at Mixtow Pill. On Tuesday it rained and blew all day, reaching Storm Force 10 – so much for coming in May when the weather would be at its gentlest! We put the heating on and stayed in our bunk until tea time, just emerging to fetch tea, lunch etc. as needed.

On Wednesday the weather eased and we sailed for Falmouth.  We had a great NW 5 which gave us a fast reach and we never made less than seven knots all the way until we had to beat up the River Fal to Mylor, where we treated ourselves to a night in the marina: great showers and two loads of washing done.  We had a great evening and a lovely meal in the Castaways restaurant on the quayside with Ynskje’s long-time friend Sandy, who lives nearby, and whom we had not seen since we were here in Santana in 2009.

On Thursday we made the short passage down the Fal and across to the Helford River.  This is a beautiful, relatively unspoilt and protected river, mostly with steep wooded sides.  We anchored off the tiny hamlet of Durgan – about six houses, including the old School House which fronts the beach.  I imagine the children would spend their breaks on the beach if the tide was out.  Last time we were here we explored up river, including the deeply wooded tidal Frenchman’s Creek – the setting for Daphne du Maurier’s novel of that name.  It is unchanged since her description.

IMG_0220On Friday we set off to round The Lizard, the southernmost tip of England and often a challenging sail.  Shortly out of Helford we were becalmed for two hours and then, as a breath of wind returned, we set the spinnaker for a very gentle sail around the feared headland.  Finally we had a magnificent sail into Mounts Bay.  With the wind off the land there was no swell and we were able to set the table in the cockpit for supper while rushing along at six knots – a first….!



In Mounts Bay we headed for St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall’s answer to Mont St Michel in Brittany.  Like its French namesake, St Michael’s Mount is a tidal island with a castle and connected to the mainland at low water by a causeway, but it is not overwhelmed by visitors.  We arrived near high water and were able to berth inside the drying harbour. When the causeway is covered, we are the only non-residents here.  To shop for supplies, we waited for low tide and crossed to Marizion.  You can just see Antipole’s mast peeking over the harbour wall. And here is our view from the boat (click to enlarge).


Tomorrow, Sunday, the castle is open, so we shall visit.  Then we need the right weather to round Land’s End and enter the Bristol Channel.

That’ s the news for now.

love from us both, Tony & Ynskje

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