Epic Fal

Last night I was looking forward to writing a post all about how refreshed and hopeful I felt about our great adventure. This morning it turns out that most of the rest of the UK (especially the older generation) have decided we’re going to leave the EU, so here’s my post from the grey drizzly land of GLOOM, and, indeed, DOOM!

We’ve been in Falmouth since I last wrote, and managed to get a few boat jobs done and say goodbye to a few more people during its spectacular Sea Shanty Festival. The Falmouth Classics was at the same time, and though nobody seemed to know what was going on during the races it was great to see Grayhound and a few other Millbrook craft among the bunting-lined beauties. We watched them from our usual noisy spot at Trefusis, rowing ashore for booze and shopping and booze and songs and booze and showers when needed.



Grayhound shoot past us to anchor after a race


Falmouth: Okay

I could write a whole blog about each person we said goodbye to. My inspirational mother and I enjoyed an evening of shanties sung by her other half, Mike, and his group The Press Gang. We talked about plans and ideas and enjoyed each others’ silliness as always, and the following morning I bid her a quiet and unceremonious goodbye on The Moor before rushing off in a stress to meet my dad. By contrast, our lunch with him and his partner Sue was filled with talk of everything but our impending adventure. It was only as his eyes started to redden as we bid our goodbyes at the marina that the purpose of the visit became stark. It’s an odd gut feeling, seeing your dad cry, and it set me off too so we rowed off quickly for a lie down and a movie at home on Gwen. I will miss them both.


Mum and me enjoying Press Gang at The Grapes

That evening we decided to return to Falmouth for some more of the shanty festival, even though we’d already heard enough shanties to last us a good long while. Fortunately, so had the festival and at our second stopping point for the evening we were lucky enough to catch a wonderful Cornish folk group instead. I leapt in and joined the dancing that was weaving a line in front of them, although the driving “five step” 5/4 beat of a few of their songs was more than my feet were capable of following. Their musicianship was incredible and we’d seen a couple of their number at Port Eliot festival as part of the Cornish “shout” movement who sing in pubs throughout the county, so we trusted their advice when they said to stick around for something really special from the next band. After quite a bit of setting up, a Basque group called Oreka TX bashed our minds with their tiny but powerful drone horn and spectacular “txalaparta” instrument, a gigantic stone xylophone played in complicated rhythms passed between two men with big sticks. We had just enough amazed energy to traipse up to the Jacobs Ladder and bounce about to some punk before rowing home.


One two three four five, one two three four five, one two three… agh!



Cornwall voted to leave the EU, too, by the way. Cornwall gets a good share of the UK’s European money which has helped fund many resources as well as things we’re super proud of like the Eden Project. I felt so proud of you, last week, Cornwall. I’d decided I would definitely move to Falmouth when we got back – it has a pub with a bookshop in, and a music scene I could get involved with, and all this lovely sea. This morning we’re saying things like “well, we don’t HAVE to move back”. If throwing the EU’s support back doesn’t seem stupid, and if giving more power to hate-fuelling people like Nigel Farage, a man so odious that I’m not even surprised by his crass comment that Leave have won “without a single bullet being fired”, is more what you’re about then you’re not the place for me right now. I still love you, though. Idiots.

By Monday we’d got ourselves sober and soggy enough for the second bout of visits, this time from my darling Didds. She arrived to find me intoxicated already at lunchtime, not from alcohol but from the sweet, sweet masochistic pleasure of having been tattooed. Finally I had joined Rich in having my Gwen design emblazoned on my back, and after some initial discomfort the whole experience had felt like a sensual massage of subtle, selective pain. I can’t explain this at all, but I heartily recommend a back tattoo for its heady mixture of relaxation, torture and eventual invigoration.


Beaver on board

Didds and I pissed about together, and then with Rich and with her boyfriend Mike, and it was all huge fun and included watching Jaws, rowing around a lot and making pictures out of stones on Gyllingvase beach, and culminated in getting plastered on something called “Beavertown” which was a strong ale made with blood orange. We parted ways the following morning over the kind of breakfast that rebuilds sanity and revitalises organs, her to visit to family nearby and us to a slow and mizzly dinghy trip up the Fal to vittle at Penryn’s Lidl. I can’t wait to see her again at some warmer spot in the world, and other than that am pretending she’s still just down the road.

Yesterday we decided enough was enough with the noise from Pendennis shipyard. We pootled ashore for a shower before buggering off in Gwen mid-afternoon, not entirely sure where we were going. A good westerly wind seemed just high enough to give us a great sail down past the Helford, and we’ve been there before, so we aimed further towards the Lizard and tacked back in to anchor in pretty Coverack in time for tea. My confidence was back and the sailing was good. Rich was calm and gentle, I was calm and gentle, the sea was calm and gentle, and it felt great to sit on deck last night with a hot meal in a new place watching the gannets dive for fish we still can’t catch. We’ve overspent to excess in the last week in Falmouth, so we’re stocked up with wonderful fruit and veg and a determination not to eat or drink ashore for a while.

We have tentative hopes for a voyage of some distance soon. Though the money we’ve saved up to disappear with is about to be worth sod all when we eventually get to France (next month, we hope), we’re still on our way out towards the rest of the world. Now we’re out of Falmouth we’re living again by the weather and the wind and it feels good.


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