The long way to Mousehole


The boat roll is only a gentle one, the weather is cloudy and warmish. But still, I’ve given up on sleep. We’re anchored off Mousehole, just between the harbour and St Clement’s Isle, at a point from which you can see the Lizard once daylight properly hits, and the noise is incredible.

At the high, squawing end of the spectrum there are the birds. For humans the late night might be party time, but for these bastards 5.30am is when the rave gets going. The island, and the water between it and us, hosts seagull after seagull, thousands of the fucking things, and they are squeaking, braying and cawing with all the might their little lungs will allow. They fly from the island towards the mainland, mouths open in a persistent pulsing siren of sound, announcing the day more vociferously than any farmyard cockerel.

There’s a constant tapping from one of the ropes on to the mast which amplifies in our little concrete shell to something which, on land, would suggest that an intruder was trying to hammer their way in. And below us the anchor chain does weird things now and then, grating in deep yawns. Weirdest of all, it sounds as though it’s raining – but not on the deck. The spattering crackle is coming from below, possibly, we think, from the nattering of shrimps. They are noisier than you would ever imagine, and relentless. No wonder we’ve been having strange dreams.

We spent yesterday here relaxing, visiting the mainland for important things like a fry-up, a pint and a guilt free poo, and for more luxurious pursuits such as a long walk, a visit to a sweet little bird sanctuary and a read on the beach in the half-visible sun. It was all we could muster after the sail from the Helford, in which luck briefly abandoned us and I learned a little more about the endurance sport that is sailing.

Mousehole harbour

Mousehole harbour…

Enjoying Mousehole harbour involves stepping over anchor chains.

…which involves stepping over lots of anchor chains.

Using legs for something other than wobbling about a boat.

Using legs for something other than wobbling about a boat.



Gwen's home for two nights.

Gwen’s home for two nights… the weirdness and noise of St Clement's Isle.

…by the weirdness and noise of St Clement’s Isle.

Around 06:45 the seagull noise dies down, all of a sudden it’s daylight and I start making fresh coffee. I must do this a few hundred times a day at work, but at sea it’s a special, lengthy, once a day ritual, normally performed by Rich. His alarm will go off at 7 for today’s sailing and I hope this will be a nice surprise.

And like that, we’re back in the blessed, sleepy Helford. It’s been a ten hour day, an extra hour on Thursday’s sail, but largely less unpleasant. Thursday was just a bit too much, I suppose – hobby horsing in the chopped up sea, first feelings of mild seasickness and the disappointment of going round the Lizard too wide and having to tack miserably back in to our destination long after the sunshine and the fun of sailing had worn off. The most exciting bit was when the coffee grinder fell off the galley surface and spread its load all over the floor and I had to clean it up. By the end of the day my chin was tired of being kept up and my fading smile only crawled back to life when baked potatoes left our little paraffin oven.

Fortunately it brought us to Mousehole, where everything was a treat after the churning slog of the day before. We knew from the forecast that the winds wouldn’t take kindly to us trying for the Scillies or give us anchorage near St Michael’s Mount. Never shy of a challenge, though, we decided to try our original trip to Mousehole in reverse today. After a gorgeous sail from our noisy little anchorage we rounded the Lizard much closer, right by the giant rectangular ship California Highway that had piqued our curiosity on the way out and reminded me of a craft that jawas might dinghy out of to sell droids. Though the sea was almost as wild, my mood was considerably lighter than on our westerly leg. While on the tiller I sang loudly to the blue to try and coax out any whales or dolphins that might be nearby (this did not work). When off shift I read a book to Rich or made sandwiches or Tweeted banalities about absent dolphins.

Back in to the Helford, where at least we know the sea is quiet and the birds are a bit more polite. I’m so so tired, and hope we don’t have too many more all-day sails in our holiday. For tomorrow I’ve insisted on a short voyage to Falmouth for a piss-up. There’s more to tell, probably, perhaps, but there’s dinner to be made and a decent night’s sleep to be had for a change, so I bid you adieu.

The closest we got to St Michael's mount (through a gloomy zoom from a dinghy).

The closest we got to St Michael’s mount (through a gloomy zoom from a dinghy).