I cannot believe it is 5 days to go before the Summer Solstice on 21st of June… Midsummer’s Day for goodness sake. Here in Newlyn, Cornwall it is raining ( again ), misty, gloomy and very very windy. There is a strong wind warning out on the Met Office Inshore Waters forecast and having checked that against other forecasts…. SWIS, Theyr, Wind Guru, XC Weather and even the BBC coastal forecasts…. all indicate strong winds and rough conditions. This will be the second bad weather no sailing day in 3 weeks… so I shouldn’t moan! Or should I?
We have sailed the majority of the English South Coast ( except the Hastings to Dover bit ) and have not seen a single day of South Westerlies… ( the prevailing wind, the most common wind ) in the English Channel. Largely as a result of a blocking high pressure system that has kept the Atlantic depressions at bay. Good in one sense…. but instead of having to beat to windward constantly in the teeth of a SW blow…. for much of the time we have had no wind! So more motoring than actual sailing.
Storm Hector was the fore runner of a return of the south westerlies as the High Pressure cell moved away and allowed Atlantic type weather to come in. So now we have south westerlies a plenty… but they are blowing very forcibly…. above force 6 and the word ‘rough’ figures prominently in many forecasts.
So what do you do on a bad weather, no sailing day? Well you do jobs… catching up jobs. Only to be put off if friends and family turn up to visit.
The boat outside was washed down …. the crusty salt washed from the Oxford Blue topsides and from the coach roof and side decks. Special attention is given to the cockpit where most time is spent whilst sailing… and we eat there too… filled rolls, morale boosting finger dips into the famous Poli Poli ‘greedy box’ , endless cups of hot tea and coffee served in the ‘muggit’, crisps, tacos, and all manner of Cornish pasties and the likes… so the cockpit floor is a well trodden teak floor of crumbs and bits of food……disgusting!…. so we hose out the cockpit and wipe down all the mucky surfaces…. until looking like brand new.
Whilst working hard, we noticed sailing folk gathering with cameras at the ready … all looking the same way from the pontoon. A rather large head of a black seal had appeared and he or she was in the process of trying to bring a rather large silvery fish under control so that said seal could eat it. We were too late to catch the ‘red in tooth and claw’ moment with our i-phone cameras. The seal duly dived with his or her meal, not to be seen again. All this action happened about thirty meters from the boat.
A procession of sailors appeared to chat and say nice things about Southerly yachts in general and Poli Poli in particular. The evening before … the four gold bar epaulet man…namely the Captain Harbour Master even came to see us… and on viewing Poli Poli up close, he retorted ‘what a beast ‘ …. well I replied ‘she is not a beast… she is a princess’…the ex-RN Captain fell about guffawing in deep naval and nasal twang. He must of thought… got a real soppy one here.
So jobs filled the morning. Lunch was taken at the Tolcarne Inn…. recommended by Tom Cunliffe in his ‘The Shell Channel Pilot’….to quote him …’top class fish and beer’. We duly tested both. Excellent.
Newlyn?? Well to quote Tom Cunliffe again…’Newlyn is the most important fishing harbour in southern England and it is not set up for yachts.’ So we spied blood stains on the external walls and pavement of the Star/Ship pub…. which takes me back to Tom Cunliffe’s observations on Newlyn… ‘ the town has a reputation for hard-case fishing families running the show to their own unwritten laws’…..’but a yacht whose crew approach with due humility are usually accommodated overnight with good grace.’So we demonstrated due humility and kept a low profile.
The afternoon was taken up with family visitors from Exmouth in Devon. Carol and David arrived having been visiting a tin mine in a nearby location ( as one does! ). They arrived in their lovely blue camper van and parked outside the harbour master’s office. Don’t think Mister Four Bars on shoulders was in residence.
We had a good time chatting in the saloon of Poli Poli, drinking tea and coffee whilst Mike handed round the very expensive digestive biscuits. David is a senior member of the Exmouth RNIB…. and is a veritable encyclopedia of sailing knowledge… so we asked a lot of questions about our next port of call, ie Padstow. Carol proudly displayed her photos of the week they had recently spent on the Norfolk Broads on a wooden sailing boat that had no engine…. and no fenders! A lively and most enjoyable friendly afternoon. Carol and David left before the next lot of rain came in…. and spent the night in guess where…. Padstow!
Full marina facilities are not available at Newlyn. It is fishing port which makes available a number of pontoons for visiting yachts. So if you wanted toilets and showers, you went up the hill in the winding back streets of Newlyn to a gym which seems to be in the attic of an old warehouse… which had long seen better days. And you paid two pounds fifty for the privilege. Newlyn is not Cowes or the Hamble River.
The bad weather, no sailing day ended chasing seagulls off the side decks…. and an opportunity for an early night.