Moonlight Adventure

The story of our travels on board Moonlight, our Vancouver 36.


Tuesday 28th July 2009

Posted by yachtmoonlight on July 29, 2009 at 2:46 PM

John first sold the idea of this sailing malarkey to me with talk of perpetual summer, long hot days with swims in refreshing seas and sundowners in the cockpit while watching beautiful sunsets. We would leave in the middle of the summer and would be in the tropics before we felt the nip of autumn.

I suspected from the start he was talking utter bobbins, which is why as he stuffed the nets on his side of the forepeak with shorts and swimming trunks, I stuffed mine full of woolly jumpers, and raised a mild concern when he ripped out the heating system (which didn’t work anyway).

Although it is an occupational hazard being a girl, sometimes it is no fun being right. But at least I am warmer than John.

As you may have gathered, we are still in Falmouth. The rain is heavy and almost constant, the wind is still in the wrong direction, and John is growing barnacles.

Thursday was one of the rare days with sunny spells in between the downpours and we made the most of the sunshine with a walk to Gyllyngdune gardens, a short walk from the town centre. We arrived the same time as the accordion players who would be providing the afternoon entertainment in the adjoining pavilion.


(Gyllyngdune gardens)


 The gardens consist of a lawn area with a bandstand in the middle surrounded by beautiful flowerbeds and pathways that lead through trees down to a grotto and up to a stone arch with views out to sea.


(The stone arch)


The pathways were deserted and the lawn area was quiet as most people were inside ‘enjoying’ the accordion playing, so we had the park almost to ourselves and it was wonderful.

We wandered back to the town and stopped at the Chain Locker pub to make sure their beer was OK before heading back to the boat, where I managed to rustle up something vaguely edible.

After dinner we sat in the cockpit and watched some chaps from a nearby Irish boat, ‘Celtic Mist’ pootling around in a dinghy with a diver in the water, obviously looking for something. They spotted us on deck, came over and explained they were looking for their anchor and chain which they had lost when they arrived early in the morning (as apparently no-one had thought it would be a good idea to tie the other end to the boat). Luckily, they had a spare anchor and chain so had managed to anchor on the second attempt. The skipper asked if we had a laptop as he had a ‘computer whiz’ on board who thought he could link a GPS to a PC and work out exactly where they had lost the anchor. He didn’t sound convinced and neither were we but we were happy to help and told him to send the whiz over.
The whiz turned out to be a very pleasant young chap called Stuart, who had not sailed before. We guessed this when he came aboard and asked what the sponges drying in the cockpit were for (errrrr……washing….).
It turns out Stuart had taken his car Sat Nav on the trip with him so he could record their journey. He plugged it into our laptop, transferred a file into Google Earth and lo and behold, there was the course the boat had taken when it arrived, complete with times and co-ordinates. It was a bit of a spaghetti of squiggles as they has taken two attempts to anchor, but Stuart meticulously logged the path they had taken and after an hour and a beer he deduced the exact co-ordinates where he believed the anchor to be. By this time it was getting late and the diver had finished for the day with a promise to return in the morning.

The next morning was back to the familiar drizzly rain. We looked out to see how the chaps in Celtic Mist were doing and saw they had found the anchor first thing, using Stuart’s directions. Just before they left to carry on their journey to Ireland, Stuart came over in the dinghy and gave us a bottle of wine to thank us for the use of our laptop.

We dashed into town between showers and I bought a wooden carved wine bottle holder in the shape of turtle which caught my eye in a shop window.

On Saturday we took the ferry across to Flushing and walked to Mylor. We came across the very pretty church which boasts a ‘living churchyard’ where the nature is allowed to take over and provide a haven for wildlife. Sounds like a great excuse not to mow the lawn to me.


(The 'living churchyard')


 It was mostly very nice, but in some areas nettles and bracken had taken over a little too much, completely obscuring the grave stones and making large areas inaccessible, which seemed a shame. There are some fascinating graves and memorials in the churchyard, of skippers from packet ships, shipwrecks and trainees who perished on HMS Ganges when it was a naval training ship moored nearby.


(Shipwreck memorial)


We ambled back round to the ferry at Flushing and when we arrived in Falmouth we decided after a long walk we deserved a nice meal out, so we ate at Cribbs restaurant, which had been recommended to us. From the outside, there is nothing to distinguish Cribbs from the multitude of bars, cafes and restaurants in Falmouth, but trust me, Cribbs really is something special. The food was absolutely stunning and we had a fantastic meal. I urge you to get in your car now, drive to Falmouth and head straight for Cribbs.

Sunday was a complete washout, so we stayed on the boat and I passed the time reading, beating John at Scrabble and trying to learn Spanish from a Nintendo DS cartridge I had bought on a more optimistic day.

Yesterday’s forecast was promising for another walk, so we took the ferry across to St Mawes and then another ferry to The Place. This ferry can only carry 12 passengers and as it arrived in the harbour, people started descending from all directions, so John ran to the front, elbows flaying, knocking little old ladies, children and dogs in the sea to make sure we got on this trip (he learned this technique in Barbados – see Previous Adventures).

We walked up and along the hills as stopped when we spotted a very large old black boat that had been anchored near us sailing out past Pendennis castle.


(The old black boat leaving Falmouth)


We followed the footpaths as best we could, and as always happens when I go walking anywhere, the footpaths disappear and we ended up in a field full of cows, while all the other walkers passed by on the correct path somewhere below us. I’m not sure how this happens, but I’m sure if I went walking in the Sahara desert or on the moon I would end up in a field of cows.

We fought our way through high grass and avoided cowpats to finally reach Fraggle Rock, known to some people as St Anthony’s Head Lighthouse.


(The Fraggle Rock lighthouse)


The sunny morning was then broken by a brief but quite heavy shower, so we took shelter in an old World War II observation point, where we met a couple who told us there was a bird hide a few yards further on and they had spotted some Peregrine Falcons from there a few minutes earlier. We eagerly headed to the bird hide, and watched for a while but all we saw were seagulls.

Heading back along the footpath, we stopped briefly to tell a passing couple that there was a bird hide a little further on from which we had just seen puffins and then we found that the paths had all turned so muddy sludge. This was no problem for every other walker we passed as not only do other walkers manage to stick to invisible footpaths and avoid cows, they also always manage to wear appropriate clothing, so as we trudged past walker after walker happily splashing along in boots and wellies, we tried our best to look like we didn’t mind in the least that our open-toed walking sandals had resulted in our feet being caked in mud with twigs sticking out from between our toes.

We somehow managed to stay on the correct footpath all the way back with stunning views of the coast and not a cow in sight.


(View from the footpath)


On arrival back at The Place, we found that it was low water and the ferry couldn’t get to the harbour where we had been dropped off (the ferryman did mention this but we were too excited at the prospect of visiting Fraggle Rock to take much notice). John spotted the ferry was approaching and clambered over the sea-weed covered rocks, slipping and falling into rock pools, waving frantically and shouting ‘Stop!’ and ‘Over here’, while I took the footpath to the alternative landing site around the corner.

Heading back to the boat in the dinghy, we stopped by Blue Iguana and Andy told us as gently as he could that the big old black boat that we saw from the hills had hit another boat on its way out and had had a close encounter with Moonlight before sailing off without stopping. He said he had checked and couldn’t see any damage but we were extremely nervous as we checked all around the boat. A dinghy sailing rescue boat and the harbour master also came over to tell us what had happened and the general consensus was that it hadn’t hit Moonlight but had missed by inches. We couldn’t find any damage or evidence of a bump except some tar on the anchor chain from the black boat, so they must have been very close.

Monday evening is of course quiz night in the Chain Locker and I am happy to report that on our third attempt, along with Andy and Julie, we won! Whoooooo hoooooooo!

The weather forecast today isn’t good, with heavy rain and gales forecast overnight. We have moved onto a visitors mooring so we don’t have to worry about the anchor dragging overnight.

In between the heavy showers we popped ashore to the Chandlers and bought some charts for northern France and we are planning to spend the rest of the evening working out if a trip to Brest before crossing Biscay (as suggested by our friend Chris from ‘L’esprit De Mer’) would be a good plan.

Categories: July 2009, England

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Reply Denise
4:25 PM on July 29, 2009 
I think this is all building up to be a fabulous travel book - hopefully it will go further than the western coast of the UK eventually............better start knitting John a sweater otherwise! D x
Reply Jan
8:03 AM on July 30, 2009 
Another jolly and entertaining missive. The photos just look stunning; I think I will have to put Falmouth on my list of "Places I Must Visit".
Reply chris
5:29 PM on July 30, 2009 
glad to hear u escaped the black boat.there was one that anchored several evenenings whilst we were in falmouth that worried us.
the weather looks good for biscay next wednesday on the wetterkarten long rang[usually v accurate].this looks your best bet at present.otherwise we will meet again when i return to falmouth end of august.get as far south as you canas soon as you can.
best wishes chris and penny
Reply Gwen
6:41 PM on July 31, 2009 
There's a certain similarity between the bandstand in the gardens and the pavilion/pagoda on Union Island. Clearly designed by the same architect!
Hope you make a small fortune from this blog as it's great entertainment and deserves to keep you in rum punch (Pusser's of course!) for a long time. Something to look forward to after all the marmite and hot chocolate that is de rigeur in an English summer.