Leaving the Shire

I hope one day that this blog will read as something better than a blow-by-blow account of “what I did on my holidays”, but you’ll have to indulge me while we’re on our first trip away from Rame.

The clouds had gathered but the air was warm in Cawsand bay as we woke, well rested, to Monday morning. After much faffing and tidying up we enjoyed the smugness of a hassle-free sail from anchor, keeping just the main and jib up until we’d got round Rame Head and hoisted the staysail.

This week it’s all North, North Westerlies on the south coast of Cornwall which gave us sweet, sleek sailing to Mevagissey. We have a brand new log book to try out, so I suggested that we take hour-long shifts on the tiller (about as long as is bearable) with log-keeping performed by the freed person at changeover. This seems to be working well, as an hour is just long enough for the escapee to wee, fiddle with ropes, enjoy some sun, make snacks and watch the water speeding past the galley portholes before returning to heave on a stick for another shift.

There were some higher winds in the afternoon which made sailing a little less easy, but our speed was incredible – we had thought Gwen wouldn’t go past 5 knots but she stayed above it all day, up to 7 and a half at points. With a gentle sea the speed was not scary – it felt right to be heeled over, and fun as hell. It was knackering, though, and by the time we entered the pretty outer harbour of Mevagissey and found the visitors’ buoys we’d reserved among the many fishing and tour boats (fortunately quite easy to grasp and tie into) we were ready for sleep.

Approaching Mevagissey

Approaching Mevagissey

Bed was out of the question. The Meva male voice choir (including my mum’s fella, Mike) were to be in the pub after their concert and we wanted very much to meet her and hear their weekly carousing in all its splendour. After some time zombie-walking the picturesque streets, rammed with touristy tat like so many places we know, we did, but sloped off early with our eyelids drooping.

The usual concert venue was out of action.

The usual concert venue was out of action.

Gwen in the harbour

Gwen in the harbour

Meva choir enjoy a shandy and a shanty

Meva choir enjoy a shandy and a shanty

Yesterday we woke to a beautiful sun and a deck invaded by wasps, fond of our coffee and my bright clothes. After a brief battle in which Rich’s swatter proved victorious we found the harbourmaster, paid our dues and treasured much needed showers. Then we motored out and sailed away in a leisurely fashion, with a reef in the main and the staysail down, until a boat about our size passed us and Rich’s competitive side made a rare appearance. Suddenly the staysail was up and my sunbathing space was halved.

This journey is a bit of a big step for Gwen. As far as we know, Falmouth is the furthest from Millbrook she’d ever been before we got her, a fact we didn’t take the time to appreciate until we were pouring whiskey out in thanks late last night, well past Falmouth in the Helford. Before that was the task of sliding like a drifting car in to the river, pointed away in a strange angle to compensate for the tide; tacking a couple of times; squeezing down by motor between perilously close boats and finding an anchorage that turned out to be too scary in its shifting and proximity to stay the night.

Our second choice of anchorage was back near the river mouth, and was much prettier and quieter. As we approached it last night we were welcomed by the familiar sight of Nick Skeates’ white mop of hair and holey jumper rowing towards us from one of two anchored Wylos (his own design) that had just arrived. He is always a welcome sight.

Once anchored we relaxed, and I got my rod out to practice, pessimistically, with a few casts. I’d not caught a fish with Needle in all the time I’d had her. I decide to go fishing, I get nothing, we take it in turns for a while, Rich gets fish – this was becoming a routine until he let me jump in during a winning streak last night. When it finally caught I barely noticed, and as I yoiked the flapping line aloft a cheer of congratulations came up from Nick, who was visiting the other wylo. I struggled to hold on to the jerking fish as I bashed its head with a hammer, but soon my catch was in the bucket and we had enough to give Nick some for his dinner too.

Rich picked up some of the blood that was splatted on deck and quickly smeared it on my forhead. “It’s a tradition” he said, “ and you might have to eat its liver now.” Pause. Look of doubt. “That could be just for deer”. As we gutted our mackerel we threw guts aplenty to a bobbing seagull who managed to swallow two heads before he was full. I did not cry, and felt that this was progress, and dinner was lovely.

Lucky again

Lucky again

The cold, staring eyes of a killer

The cold, staring eyes of a killer

We’re hoping to go to Mousehole tomorrow, after what has been a very lazy day admiring passing boats here in the Helford. We’re just abandoning a game of Scrabble that has gone on for many hours, and earlier we met a couple, introduced by Nick, who have just bought a knackered old concrete boat with a view to renovating her, living aboard and cruising. What a thing to do. As you can imagine, we had a lot to talk about.