Penzance, nearly the end of the line.

Mon 11 Aug 2014 08:19
Monday, 11th August, 2014
Position 50:07.2N 5:31.4W The wet dock, Penzance Harbour.
It is of course the end of the line for rail passengers from Paddington, but we still have about 40 miles to go until we reach Fowey. We arrived here at 04.30 am on Saturday morning, after a busy sail over from the Scillies. We left our mooring in Hugh Town at lunchtime, and it took a little while to take on fuel and water at the dockside, worse even than the checkout queues at the little Co-op supermarket, heaving  each evening under the influx of summer visitors.St Mary's was great, we walked, hired bikes, and took a day trip to St Martins, memorable for an excellent lunch at the pub advertising 'The best view in the world': overlooking most of the islands in the archipelago, and the tourquoise sounds between them. On the other side of the island we swam off an almost deserted white sand beach that would have been the envy of most of the Caribbean Islands that we visited.
We motored around the island to Watermill Cove, an anchorage on the Northeast side of the island, and after a late efternoon stroll ashore, and an excellent Veggie supper, cooked entirely by the mate, we set off for the mainland just after 19.00 hours. Timing assumed that we would manage 5 kts in the 15 knots of following wind, and that we would arrive in Penzance at hight water, enebling us to lock into the wet dock area of this drying harbour. With the sails set, the windvane adjusted, and with an eye on the pile of washing up in the sink, the mate anounced that it was bedtime. With a full tank of water, and with heat from the engine to warm it up, washing up was almost a pleasure, no need to skimp on washing-up liquid and rinsing water for a change. Once clear of the islands it got quite rough, and there was less wind than anticipated, and then it started to veer all over the place, turning a nice steady broad reach into a series of downwind legs with gybes every half hour or so. This kept me busy on the foredeck, as we fell further and further behind the clock. To cap it all there was a fierce countercurrent just off the Runnelstone, south of Lands End, we were stuck there for an age, and I thought that qwe should have top abandon plan A, and head straight for Falmouth. Just in time the adverse current let us go, and we reached much calmer water in the lee of the SE coast of the peninsula. Suddenly we were leaping along under full sail, and we reached Panzance with half an hour to spare. The poor harbourmaster was at his post, and directed us to a berth, Hannah, roused from her slumber, did well with the mooring lines in the very confined space within the dock.
Penzance has been full of pleasant surprises. It is a little wasted, past it's prime, but still busy, nearly all the shops are trading, and there are many fine buildings amongst to rather obvious planning disasters of the last part of the last centuary. Penlee house Art Gallery was excellent, and we have been walking back to fitness: To Mousehole in the West on our first day here, and over to Marazion, and St Micheals Mount, on the second. It is wonderful to be in Britain without a car: you see so much more if you walk about!
Bertha has been and gone, and in its wake we are promised brisk westerlies for the rest of the week. We will head for Falmouth tomorrow or Wednesday, and still hope to be in Fowey on Thursday.