Thursday 23rd August…Fowey to Yealm River

Fowey in the morning is bright and has a completely different atmosphere. The local luggers are getting ready to race and there is a fleet of dinghies and scows already out on the river.

The local bakery does a fine selection of cakes and bread and we have a rather more sanguine impression of the place. It is charming with narrow streets and passageways hinting at a past of fish and smuggling and other activities associated with sailors in port…

…but this flag was not the love they were hinting at…

…and we are not sure what the Rook with a Book was all about…

We decide to visit the Yealm River as another place we have not sailed to and also because it has more memories for John in both his youth and more recently with his Mum and Dad.

Getting out of Fowey itself was a bit tricky, weaving through fleets of assorted small craft hell bent on racing…

Another run with the wind just astern, but gusting up a bit more than yesterday, so we chicken out of using the chute. The sea builds a little and we surf down some of the waves over 8kts. Steering requires lots of concentration to keep Heydays on track…

….but there are some comfier options…

The day passes with some sightings of dolphins to keep us amused, but they are going in the opposite direction and don’t seem to want to play with us this time. A warship of some description is on manoeuvres out at sea and a pilot boat sets out to meet her. It is unclear what they are doing, but a helicopter seems to be involved as well. We set out across the bay leaving Plymouth off to port just as the warship decides to make a turn towards us. They cause us some consternation and also indignation at first…we have no idea what they are doing and whether we should turn or what. Somewhere in the colregs is something about making one’s intentions clear…then they give two blasts on their horn and turn to pass behind us. Perhaps they are disgruntled that we got in their way of tea-time in Plymouth. We wonder idly who pays their wages!

The entrance to the Yealm is very tight and requires some precise navigation to avoid the sandbar at the entrance. Part of the pilot recommends using a line of hedge as leading marks. Fortunately this does become clear once we have rounded the Mewstone Rock and passed safely by The Slimeys (more rocks).

A boat in front of us still has the mainsail up and rounds up in front of us to take it down…not so clever in a narrow channel. We slow down and are about to overtake when they suddenly turn back on course and speed up, presumably to make sure that they get one of the limited moorings before us…charming, but fortunately a real minority amongst the boats we have met so far. They get the last space on the first pontoon, but we mooch up river and find a space round the bend and with much better shelter from the swell coming up-river…ha!

The river is stunningly beautiful and like the Helford, a real haven of peace and tranquillity even though one of the blokes on the boat nearby has a hacking cough! We trundle off in the dinghy and tie it up to ‘Wide Steps’. This turns out to be a bit of a misnomer as there is barely enough width to even get the tender on. We take a short walk to Nos Mayo which is opposite to Newton Ferrers. The Ship Inn is where John last came with his Mum and Dad and it brings a lump to the throat as both are now sadly gone. The setting is beautiful and cars start to park on the beach left by the receding tide.


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