trip logs

Foray into Helford River

After a frustrating morning trying to book a train ticket, we (myself, Sally, ZMP and Alice) eventually left Falmouth at 1230 and sailed in convoy with Zephyr who was anchored outside the marina waiting for us. The strong winds of the previous two days were abating and after a lively start in F4, we eventually arrived at the mouth of the Helford in a variable F2. We had made some poor tacking decisions during our beat and Zephyr got there some time before us.


We continued up to Durgan where the tender got its first outing, transferring us to shore for swimming, treasure hunting and a barbecue.


As the evening drew on, I took Alice, Zack and Max to the opposite (windward) shore of the estuary and anchored in Ponsence Cove with 3 other boats for the night.


The following morning, we returned to Durgan to pick up Sally, Piran and the lunch and then motored slowly up the river. Our objective was to reach Tremayne Quay; this is a stone quay which was built for Queen Victoria (though she never visited). We had no hope of mooring to it at that state of tide, but did well to get that high up river. The depth sounder was distinctly flaky in these shallow waters, but as Zack snaked along finding the channel, I used my crafty bean pole to check the depth. We arrived at Tremanyne to find a large yacht moored in the middle of the deeper pool in front of the quay, with the skipper enjoying the marvellous views of the wooded banks, bird life and sun.

To Zack’s relief, we turned around and then were able to sail downstream on staysail only. Sally decided that she would swim alongside the boat, so we trailed a float. Some of the time she was ahead of Aurora and at other times, we overtook her in a gust and she could grab the float for a tow.

Eventually we picked up a mooring off Pedn Billy (not a typo!) in barely enough water to float Aurora (in fact Zack gamely jumped to catch the mooring), as the last of the tide ebbed away. The entire crew had swims (or wade) of varying length (Piran=30 secs, Sally and Max=30 mins).


After a lovely lunch in the sun, the tide had returned enough for us to motor away (this fact was signalled by the reappearance of the fender which Max had wedged under the boat as we settled; this seemed to serve to keep the boat fairly level as we took the ground, though its not conclusive because we did not dry out fully). We retuned to Durgan for the final time, so that we could drop off all except Zack (who again did a lot of ferrying in the tender) and collect Ben.

Having deflated and stowed the dinghy below, we sailed out of the Helford for Falmouth. We wondered if we could anchor in Swanpool beach but the wind was almost due S so we decided to scratch this and head for Falmouth harbour. It was an exciting downwind sail and we stood across the bay and continued until we were abeam St Antony’s Head before gybing and continuing to St Mawes and up the Percuil comparing all the boats moored in the river.

After a brief motor back upwind out of St Mawes, we were able to reach across the Roads into Falmouth harbour to collect Sally and the younger kids. She had not been idle in the meantime and had made some pasties to order using Freda’s pastry and the professional crimping skills of Ben’s pasty-making brother, Jonathan.


Tea was had mooching about the harbour at the top of a spring high. At one point we sailed alongside Zephyr, who had been visiting Falmouth for the day and was returning to Mylor.


Having dropped off the Amos clan at custom house quay, Alice and I motored back up to Flushing and dropped the pin for the night. My tidal calculations proved correct, as at low tide we just kissed the bottom (I raise the clonking plate at night anyway).

After an early reveille, I sailed Aurora back to Mylor. It was a glorious morning and the gentle Southerly gave us a rapid three-sail run to the marina, which was over all too soon.

Aurora was thus left to rest for a day or two (though she was rafted for company) whilst shore based activities took place and the whole family would be reunited later in the week. Logged distance so far this trip: 47.7nm.

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