From Marina Chic to Mud Berth
From Marina Chic to a Mud Berth
Zoonie started her transition just before High Water on the 14th of June under sunny skies and in the path of the eels that we saw thriving in their little shoal in the marina.
You may remember the book I read recently, ‘The Gospel of the Eels’ by Patrik Svensson in which he discusses why eels are now critically endangered, all the causes for their rapid demise being rooted in man’s activities, including pollution, but also physical impediments to their pathways upriver to their spawning grounds, like sluices and locks. Well Rob and I were thrilled to see them in their juvenile ‘glass’ form growing in the safety of the marina waters, just as young fish find sanctuary amidst the still and silent hulls, the weedier the better for their food supply. Wriggling signs of hope within the modern yachting scene.
Mark operated the swing bridge and waved as we passed through and negotiated the marina through to Falmouth harbour. Red and green buoys and little craft on their fore and aft moorings marked our route and just a few minutes later, on this shortest of short passages for Zoonie, we scanned along the harbour wall to find the shed and yard we had explored the day before.
I chatted with Portuguese Manuel on the phone on our approach, both he and owner George and Cathie, with whom I had corresponded since and while we were in Cape Town about the mooring, were on hand to take lines as the route to our berth was quite tight. Manuel in his rich, soft accent,
“You pass the first yard and continue towards the bridge. On your left you will see a gap in the pontoons between two yachts, Unity and Chloe May. Turn towards the harbour wall between them, you will see us ready for you and your berth is around the pontoon to the right.”
There were Cathie and Manuel standing on the harbour wall as Rob very slowly edged Zoonie directly towards the ancient stones. I rarely use the word ‘very’ in my writing but here it is entirely appropriate. Zoonie crept with the stealth of a hunting big cat so that her turning the right-angled corner to the right around a beautiful, recently built traditional style yacht, was under perfect control and showed just how manoeuvrable she is at very slow speed. Well done my man.
I sent bow and stern lines up to our smiling handlers and another one to George who was waiting on the pontoon beside which Zoonie is now secured. Her berth is parallel to the wall but a couple of metres from it, alongside the pontoon that also runs parallel to the wall with alongside berths on the inside and finger berths on the outside. The photos probably explain it better. When we came to leave a few days later Cathie and Manuel took additional fore and aft lines and Rob and I eased the lines on her pontoon side as Cathie and Manuel pulled her sideways to the harbour wall and then took our baggage directly from us in the cockpit, simples.
Warm greetings were exchanged and a few hours later, to make sure Zoonie settled happily into the fourteen-foot depth of mud of which she only needed six, we went to the office to complete the formalities.
The old village of Penryn was on our doorstep and soon we were exploring its ancient streets and buildings. The town became a borough and was awarded a charter in the 13th century and undoubtedly there was a habitation here before that, possibly for a thousand years or more as the area is strategically placed for access to the English Channel and the world beyond and of course for fishing, and latterly the export of tin and granite. It may engage in similar trade again with lithium, essential apparently in the manufacture of batteries, which has been discovered in the old mines.
In one of the parks, we came across the granite standing stone you see in the photo, which reminded me of the ancient henges dotted around the world, and Claire Fraser of ‘Outlander’ fame passing through the time portal from present to past and back, but it didn’t work for me because I didn’t have a semi-precious stone on me! I wonder where I might have gone to, Tudor, Elizabethan, Viking hmmmm.
As you probably know, exploring creates an immense thirst so we popped into what rapidly became our favourite local, ‘The Famous Barrel’, with its wonderful door made from half of a six-foot-high barrel. I have yet to discover why it is ‘Famous’. Therein we supped our long-awaited local beer, Doombar and were equally refreshed by the fact they don’t choose to boost their profits with food sales, a habit that has turned so many decent old pubs into crowded restaurants. Soon we were chatting with the bar staff and a handful of locals that relaxed together in this informal atmosphere, one that is stripped away when groups huddle around a table focussing inwards on their meal and close company. Not a criticism more an observation of something valuable that has been largely lost in the commercial world we live in.
The buildings of Penryn tell its story just as well as words. Once the more fashionable of the two, when Falmouth was focussed on fishing and trade, the aristocratic Georgians built beautiful homes with their typically tall windows amidst the old stone cottages in Penryn and most are still there, now converted into apartments while keeping the attractive outer shell, they are destined to survive for another century at least. Planning permission for modern apartments require they blend in while being totally modern inside.
Many folks prefer Penryn now, as Falmouth has become a tourist hot spot and cruise liner dock with all the demands and pressures that places on a location, but between the two, being so close together, and with the presence of the university bringing plenty of young people into the area, one gets the feeling of a strong community, destined to survive and flourish. There is an exciting buzz in this area, so far away from London and the rest of Great Britain.
Well now that we are back home safe and sound from our world sail here are a few stats. We took 420 days sailing over 38,252 miles and six years two days to get around our lovely world, so our next circumnavigation will be slightly shorter, around Great Britain in 2022, which will involve much interesting wintertime planning and keep us old retirees out of mischief.
So, this will be my last blog for a while and I wanted to thank you dear readers for your loyalty and kind comments, it has been such a pleasure to take you with us on our travels, bless you and stay well and we’ll be with you again next year.
Lots of love and best wishes,
Barb and Rob