Tuesday, July 1st, 2008
We had a good time sailing into Falmouth. The Picton Castle crew did a fine job at handling the sails and braces as we sailed up to the hook at Falmouth Bank just outside the small harbour. On one side we had large industrial docks servicing ships, tapering down to this small and historic-looking Cornish waterfront town. Across the water to the north are rolling hills of grassy fields speckled with black and white spotted cows and patches of rich green woods going down to the seas edge.
While the gang climbed the rig and got the sails all neatly harbour stowed we took the skiff in to find where we should run boats to. This was soon revealed by the presence of the ancient stone small boat basin, who knows how old? Worn stone steps lead to the top of the quay. Pretty little fishing boats and pleasure boats were staked off to lines and the stones in this well protected haven.
Soon the gang was ashore. The Harbour Master gave us an invitation that had been waiting for us to visit the Royal Legion establishment in honour of our ships Royal Navy veteran status. Our crew found their own things to do but we were having something of a reunion of old Picton Castle crew. It was perhaps inevitable that we made the Chain Locker, the nearest water’s edge pub, our operating headquarters and the first structure of any kind after getting off the skiff.
It is important to understand that a true pub is quite different than a “bar”. A true pub is essentially a sort of community center where anyone can go of any age and expect to meet up with certain others. Pubs are fast disappearing across England being replaced by bar which are just that, drinking establishments. The Chain Locker is quite a fine pub and there we met. Quite a lovely view too. Old pictures inside the pub show gaff-rigged fishing sloops all grounded out at low tide in this old and tiny walled-in basin. We can look across the harbour to those same fields and hills over an inlet crammed with boats of every description but with no shortage of fine plumb bowed wood built gaff-rigged sloops. The Chain Locker is jammed with nautical ephemera. And unlike many a maritime themed bar these life-rings, broken oars, black & white photos of ships under sail and wrecks as well as bits and pieces of ships are all real and have something to do with right here over the last couple hundred years. We learned that the Chain Locker had been built by Dutch prisoners of war in 1666. Which war, about what, I do not know.
In Falmouth we stared to get the gang going on small boat handling. Nicki and others took up the challenge and it was back and forth to the ship and dock. Instruction and practice, that’s what it takes. And good fenders.
Old friends and shipmates joined us here to visit. Anna who was cook in the Picton Castle came aboard with her two tykes, the 2 year old decided that shorts were out this season so he removed them and went racing around the pub squealing much to the amusement of all.
Kimberly (World Voyage 2,3, and 4) and Dave (World Voyage 4) took us on a small sight seeing tour of Cornwall, the highlight of which is a little bitty harbour called Mousehole, pronounced Mowzzle. But it means just what it looks like, a ‘mouse-hole’ of a harbour. Claire and Nobby, both engineers from the 1st world voyage sailed with us from Ireland and now they are off with their two Picton Castle kids to stay with family in England.
Then the weather looks good to sail and it came time so we are off towards Brixham about 70 miles away under full sail with Jackie at the wheel, grinning from ear to ear.