Latest News: Forums Cruising Camping and Sailing from Penmarlam Fowey

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    We recently had a superb week sailing and camping at Penmarlam ( lovely quiet friendly and remote campsite but with good facilities ), the weather was very kind though winds were light except on the last last day when a wildly shifty F4/5 Northerly being bounced in all directions by the hills over a fast ebbing tide made beating up river a very wet excerise in patience and ducking emergency gybes for an hour (truth be told it was my mistake on the tides as I forgot to allow an hour for BST versus UTC and another hour for the river to finish emptying versus the table in the almanac.) Generally though we had lovely sailing conditions across the bay to Mevagissy and beautiful picnics in Lantic bay , and even swam with a basking shark, we’ll be back as it was truly beautiful and reminiscent of the best of the Mediterranean.

    A few lessons learned though which I think are are worth passing on:

    We were in a motorhome towing the boat and filled to capacity with people /sails / equipment / feed etc – the road to the ferry is very steep and we couldnt get up it from a standing start, much heaving from the very helpful ferry men, smoking tyres and very smelly clutch sorted it out but we ended up with a broken window where the extreme angle of trailer and van where we transitioned from ferry off ramp to the land concrete road ramp caused the mast to go straight though it even though it was mounted almost a meter back from the van when on the level. However the trouble was worth it just to see the faces of the drivers waiting to get on the ferry as we carreered toward them in a cloud of blue smoke and language.

    The launch ramp at the dock is also very steep ( as is the harbour approach road to/from the campsite ) and not suited to underpowered vehicles, in fact really a 4wd is a necessity. Having learned our lesson at the ferry we therefore readily agreed to help from the super friendly and helpful Harbour Master who volunteered assistance. About a week after returning home we received an invoice for over £40 for the privilege of the 30 meter tow in/out of the water however after pointing out we were not advised of the charges when the service was apparently freely offered so they agreed to waive the fee.

    Dont drag your boat onto the beach then expect your centerboard to work afterwards – a mass of small stones had swirled up in the breakers and lodged between the casing and board and only back at base could we finally dislodge them by capsizing the boat and working them free with the serrations of a breadknife. Luckily winds were light and it was mostly a run to get back to the river mouth so loss of use of the centerboard didnt matter much. Much better to anchor off behind the breaking waves and wade/swim ashore.

    Using the spinnaker halyard as a topping lift and having the mainsail fully flaked on the boom made for much easier on board picnicing at anchor and much less frantic to motor away to a safe distance from the pontoon / yachts / swimmers etc before simply hauling the mainsail up to sail off. We also did this while moored at the pontoon which stopped the boom getting knocked about in the boat and made her look like a tiny yacht which, oddly, was very satisfying.

    Our 4hp 2-stroke Johnson outboard , while powering us along at a reasonable rate (around 5 kts on slack water at at 3/4 power according to the GPS) sups fuel at an alarming rate so that its small tank was good only for about 20-25 mins motoring, refilling it after having stowed the sails ( ie adrift in the main navigating channel) is not to be recommended.

    The Mevagissey-Fowey tourist Ferry is VERY fast and creates a LOT of wake – stay well clear of it when out of the harbour confines although I’m pretty sure he steered much closer to us than was necessary on purpose TWICE … probably gives the oggling tourists something to laugh at, luckily I spotted what he was doing and turned bow on to the wake otherwise I think a capsize could have been on the cards.

    Make sure your spinnaker and wisker pole are stowed extra securely at sea. We have ours on the boom held by two of those wire loop thingys which are normally more than adequate but a combination of a wild windshift, crossing a deep wake wake and the resulting unexpected crash gybe managed to unhook and then catapult the wisker pole off to Jones’ locker.

    All in all an expensive week of unplanned ‘extras’ :
    replacement window £150
    new bread knife £10
    replacement wisker pole £45
    total £205.00

    Followers of my growing list of disasters will be comforted to know that at least the tyres on the trailer held out this time and the enjoyment factor more than outweighed the negatives on this particular trip. Fully recommended you visit Penmarlam campsite and book a pontoon space for a beautiful river and coastal sailing but take a 4wd or many helping hands to launch and recover.

    Off to the Ullswater gathering tomorrow, lets see what that holds in store.

    Bye for now.

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