Saturday, June 28th, 2008
Dawn found the Picton Castle under all plain sail a few miles west of the Scilly Islands, just off Lands End. Breezes were moderate, seas down and the ship slipped along nicely. Lots of deep-water vessels were about, making the corner north into the Bristol Channel or east into the English Channel bound for France, Germany, Denmark, even all the way to Russia. The sky cleared and the sun burned through again, seas were small. Forty miles to go to Falmouth. The 4-masted bark Herzogin Cecilie sailed from Falmouth one calm evening in 1936 bound up the channel with a hold full of wheat from South Australia and went ashore in light winds and fog at Salcombe only a few miles away. This made news world wide as it was one of the last great sailing ship losses. We know a couple of the crew from that voyage in Cape Town, South Africa. This event also brought the story of the remaining Tall Ships to the fore. Anyway, we sailed along in sunny hazy conditions around past “The Lizard” (funny name for a point of land, no?) and braced up most of sharp on the port tack in these WSW winds.
Now we were sailing north in Falmouth Roads, a large roadstead with a westerly shore giving protection from SW around to NE which is pretty good for hereabouts. Back in the day sailing ships could fairly well depend upon sailing in and out of this anchorage. Today this small barque was making her way under sail alone past the roads into the harbour itself. Our sky was fair with a lot of clouds scudding along low overhead with sunlight and blue sky mottled. Three or four medium merchant ships were anchored about and we were in for a special treat. The replica of Giovanni Caboto’s (John Cabot) ship the Mathew sailed out to greet us and sail with us into Falmouth. We shortened sail slowly and made our way in. Nadja was at the wheel and all hands stood by braces, sheets and down-hauls. We sailed in and up the river letting the anchor go in 20 feet of water at “Falmouth Bank” just outside the inner harbour but well inside the rivers mouth. Nadja steered just fine and this Picton Castle crew did a first rate job of handling the ship as they sailed into Falmouth, England. On our one side is an elaborate industrial ship yard complex with dry-docked Royal Navy Ships and the old stone wharves of ancient Falmouth and on our other side we have large green rolling hills with cows here and there and hedgerows in the most bucolic of settings while a few gaff rigged cutters sail up and down the river.