More Roseland Ramblings in Cornwall
A week’s break down in Cornwall at daughter Emma’s Creekside house at St. Mawes was ideal to spy out the scene for September’s Tall Ship Regatta which will finish at Greenwich in all its glory. Keeping an eye on the 50 entrants so far has indeed been a pleasure in anticipating the treats for this great maritime event.
The joy of the open road no longer has that carefree feel about it. An overturned caravan was quickly winched away, alas with the indignity of its owners’ galley shelves spewed all over the recipient hedge row. Some ten cars in front would have witnessed the all too often tragedy; but relax – no one was hurt and the highway reopened again after an hour or so. My sympathies that the vehicle of delight would no longer accommodate happy families – comparable to a vessel or sailing craft which can be lost in a twinkle of indecision or misreading of charts.
An hour on Pendennis Point overlooking Falmouth’s unique esturial harbour with a freshening wind putting skippers on their metal as they navigated in and out of this generous waterway. The stretches of moorings await the return of annual expenditure which boaties are expected to pay – the miles of marina parking spaces are certainly packed to the hilt in the extensive facilities now provided as far as the eye can see.
A planned park and ride cruising in a ferry through to the mecca of Falmouth’s busy pier head which would have filled in the detail of a proposed panorama I had in mind was not available. Instead, driving through the crowded street gave no chance to this driver on the lookout. The frustration of this planned voyage drove me on to Pendennis’ great hill and castle which dominates the harbour entrance giving me spectacular views without the hassle, revealing the inner secrets of the great dockyard from up on high where the dry dock and basin are revealed for all to see the secret goings on. Here the fleet’s supply vessels receive their overhauls; ‘Argosy’ and ‘Nevis Bay’ gird their loins for some future and inevitable action, supplying our forces wherever they are sent. Memories of the Gulf War come to mind when young Tailor manned the anti-aircraft weaponry in defence against threats to wreck our fleet. Those anxious moments were recalled at a City of London civic service where young Tim turned up unscathed at his father’s ceremonials, fresh from the front line whith a sun-tanned grin I’ll never forget!
Falmouth has always been on Britain’s front line, be it from the Armada or Hun aircraft raids. Pendennis and St. Mawes’ great Henrician castles still dominate this great bastion of Britain’s tender heel. I’m here really to anticipate the arrival of August’s tall ship fleet – 50-odd tall ships gathering for the great Regatta, sailing to the Needles which mark the entrance to the Solent’s great sailing arena prior to their cruise in company up London’s river in early September. The anticipation of their great adventure will thrill many a youngster as they enlist for this great maritime event, never mind the professional members of the crew and ships’ husbands as they prepare their vessels for the busy season ahead. Forward planning par excellence as vittals are stowed, each ship’s purser responsible for ordering up their exact requirement as they move from port to port on their way here from some distant home port. The complicated briefing to get their crews of every age and nationality to each port of departure on time with their correct gear and attitude. The thrill of finding your right ship in Falmouth’s packed harbour (or from the ship’s original port of departure). I doubt if every ship is alongside where one would expect – the problem of custom and port health clearance is another nightmare left to the organisers – warning to the ship’s parrot too!.
The race starts as vessels slip their moorings and head for the wide harbour, determined by St. Anthony’s lighthouse on the Roseland Peninsula and the entrance to The Helford river where the appropriate sails will be set to gain every advantageof the race start, all closely monitored by every authority imaginable called in to see fair’s fair – I am not sure our health and safety rules apply to foreign craft?
Our journey home took us via Crediton in Devon – a small market town on our favourite back road. In need of refreshment, we called in to a corner shop on the edge of an idyllic market square. Another of their customers sported a smart tee shirt bearing a logo ‘The Eye of the Wind – Faversham’. Yes sir – one of the tall ships I have been researching!! There I met Fred Saunders, an underwater engineer, who had enjoyed extensive cruises around the world on this ship he helped to convert from a German fishing boat into a fine tall ship. He spent many a year on board and was also astonished by our chance meeting. I promised to report back in September.