Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Carrick Roads and the channel up to Malpas: Falmouth Adventures Day One - part 2

We had Carrick Roads virtually to ourselves. A huge open expanse of water, the third largest natural harbour in the world.

looking south towards the English Channel

We sailed south, mainly to trim sails, sort out and reposition stores and because I was curious to get close to the very large oil tanker moored just outside the Penryn River entrance. I was to later learn that it had bunker fuel on board for all the large boats, tugs and tourist trip boats in Falmouth. Another one was anchored out in the bay off the Helford river and on Saturday, we witnessed the 'river based'  one being tugged out to sea and the other one bought in to replace her.

Carrick Roads is narrower than Plymouth Sound and to be frankly truthful, we prefer the latter. However, with winds from the south west, we were able to zip around achieving a maximum speed of around 6 kts at one point. But as early afternoon drew on, the call of the upper river was too strong. The flood tide bore us northwards. Maplas was calling!

And so we sailed upriver, hugging the western shores, past Restronguet Creek, past Loe Beach and several other small inlets. We nosed into Pill creek, a lovely sheltered anchorage, past the boats and then out again into the main river. A cream hulled Drascombe coaster past us to starboard, its tan sails full. Um, a cabin on board.......looking up at the grey dark swirling clouds, that did seem to be a sensible addition to any small boat!!  A lovely gaff rigged traditional 30' boat passed us, its cream sails full; its bottle green hull glinting in the sun shafts that broke through the ominous nimbus clouds.

looking upriver from Turnaware Point

one of the river tour boats heading upriver

Rounding Turnaware point and passing Tolcarne Creek, the wind died away and so I resorted to a very gentle pace of 2 kts. Past the oyster beds, past what looked like some fish farm, up past the deep blue King Harry ferry. The river narrowed, the water remained a deep green. Tying up at a mid channel pontoon for a quick bite to eat and ignoring the signs which said 'Dangerous pontoon do not moor here', we admired the large wooden trawler moored at its southern end and then, fully replenished, we once more headed north, further upstream.

What looked suspiciously like a curlew flew overhead and landed in the shallows on the port side. A great backed seagull swooped and caught a baby flounder; carrying it off to near by rocks to be shredded and devoured mercilessly. White egrets roosted in the green tree tops, their white plumage stark against the dark green oak leaf foliage.

At the junction of Cowlands and Larmouth Creeks we came across the first of what would prove to be many, an old 18th century stone quayside. Built of local dark grey, slate type stone, all set vertically, each quay was broken up by a narrow slipway which ended half way up the quayside. A cart width wide, the slips led onto a huge flat quayside area. In olden days this was where agricultural produce was stored; maybe local stones too. Now the quay walls were covered in bright yellow lichens above the high water mark; and tangled masses of bladderwrack seaweed below it. The quays spoke of a more prosperous time.

The further north we went, the narrower the channel became. Oak woods fringed the adjacent valley sides, their deep green summer time foliage hiding the local fauna. I am always mildly surprised at how the base of the trees immediately found at the water's edge are all horizontal and in line with each other, as if some giant hand has been along with a knife and cut them purposefully straight. Another pattern in nature!

Below the trees, rocks and below them glimpses of mudflats and stony beaches. At random points withy poles mark where oyster beds lie. The sounds of the woods drift across the waters. Jackdaws squawk; jays 'chatter'; house martins swoop low over the water to catch flies.  Swans glide in the little creeks. We pass an old wooden landing jetty to port. It is silvery grey and has seen better days. Two large yellow wooden silhouettes of teapots adorn its end. Clearly, somewhere on the hillside above is a tea room. Tempting, really tempting to stop but how far up the hill is the tearoom; how safe will Arwen be, left alone, moored at this landing jetty; all that equipment on board! The little 'cautionary' voice in my head urges me to move on....and I do........maybe I shouldn't have. An opportunity missed?

And then hoving into view two surprises. The first, our first glimpse of our night time destination....The Smugglers Inn. And just above it the rather large gentleman's motorboat yacht, the 'Dona Amelia'

The 'Dona Amelia'

She is a superyacht - 233 long, 13' draft and 30' beam. She can hold twelve guests in 7 state room cabinsand 16 crew and her top speed is 14 knots. She was built in 1929 and has a cottage like theme throughout her rooms. She underwent a refit at the famous Pendennis yard down at Falmouth. Further details on that can be found here

And she is apparently for sale. Um, I am tempted! Rather classy and elegant. I could see Arwen on the stern deck, ready to be winched down into the turquoise Mediterranean waters off Greece!


Bursledon Blogger said...

Good post Steve sounds like a fun trip, your local knowledge is exemplary, I know my way around Carrik roads pretty well, but had no idea of the names of some of the creeks you mention.



steve said...

Thanks max

It was an enjoyable trip, cut short by poor weather and other commitments but giving me an appetite to return and do the Perceuil river and a scoot across the bay and up the Helford. Next time..........