We’ve been waiting since autumn to really put Amneris through her paces, and I head out to Falmouth a couple of days ahead of Aleksandra and her brother Michał to prepare the boat for some south coast sailing.
March 18 2019
We make a lunchtime start for Fowey, leaving Falmouth Premier Marina under power. There’s plenty of wind and room to manoeuvre once we’re into the harbour proper, so the sails are soon up and we’re doing 5-6 knots before our first ever (and only, to date) accidental jibe.
As the afternoon wears on the wind first picks up, bringing with it light showers… then dies away at 17:00 and we’re motorsailing in the sunshine with dolphins all around. We’re passing Cannis Rock, the last major waypoint before Fowey at 18:00, and are safely tied up just after 19:00. It was quite an experience, as the river is unlit after the entrance lights and we really got a taste for what it means to sail in unknown waters in darkness.
March 19 2019
It’s easy to see why Fowey was such an inspiration for Kenneth Grahame, Daphne du Maurier and the likes. It’s like a village that stopped in a golden age of Englishness, and not very busy out of tourist season. Because it’s only March we are able to stay on the town pontoon for two nights, at half the in-season price (for us, GBP 27 for the two nights, plus GBP 2 for electricity for the duration). There are no facilities as such, but visitors can use the toilets at the Fowey Gallants clubhouse for free (showers too, though… rather not), and there good toilets and showers at the Royal Fowey Yacht Club (for the showers, GBP 2 plus 20p for each additional minute).
March 20 1019
We’re off again, further along the coast to Plymouth. This time we make a morning start, leaving at 09:00 to fill up on fuel before motoring down the river.
By 10:00 we’re in open water and motor sailing, and soon after this we spot coastguard exercises with helicopter and boats to the south. The traffic is heavier than it was on the run from Falmouth to Fowey, particularly as there are several British naval vessels in the area. We hear a securite warning on the radio, but it’s for firing exercises quite a way from us.
At 16:00 we enter Plymouth Sound. The buoys and boats would have been very confusing without Aleksandra’s careful pilotage planning the night before. Less than an hour later, we are in our berth at Queen Anne’s Battery Marina, which is expensive (GBP 32 per night for our little eight-metre Amneris!) but boasts luxurious facilities, very reliable internet and superb staff.
March 21 2019
Plymouth is a bit of a shock after sleepy Fowey. It feels very much like a city – concrete, shops, and heavy traffic – but does have its moments, like St Andrew’s church. We found an excellent chandlery called Marine Bazaar. Worth checking out if you’re in the area and looking for anything boaty, new or used.
March 22 2019
Time to head back to Falmouth, and we opt for an overnight sail to catch the wind that’s expected later. Departing at 18:00, we’re soon clear of Plymouth Sound. We turn off the engine, even though the wind we’re waiting for won’t arrive for several hours. We’re barely doing two knots, but who cares? We’re in no hurry.
March 23 2019
The wind began to fill in just after midnight, and now we’re racing along at six knots under half a headsail. It’s perfect our here on the water in the wee small hours. Aleksandra and Michał are asleep, and I’m in the cockpit alone to see night drain away as the sun advances.
We need the engine on to get into Falmouth harbour, where we tie up at Falmouth Haven Marina for a very respectable GBP 24 per night.
See Aleksandra’s films from these passages here: