Friday, May 27, 2005

Thursday, 26th May

Today has been what I call ‘a lazy day’. Apart from taking the boat under engine the short distance from the Lynher River to Cargreen, I’ve done little else other than take two walks – a short one in the morning to explore part of the village I had not seen before, and a longer one in the afternoon lasting nearly three hours.

Walking in this part of Cornwall is a delight. The scenery is so picturesque and well managed. Farming is the prime industry, as was confirmed by my observations. I came across factory chicken farming, dairy herds and some land used for cereal crops.

It’s not all farming. Tucked away behind some woodland there’s a huge National Grid Plant at Gandulph with several overhead cables converging there for power management.

Sadly the Cargreen Post Office has closed and there’s no local ‘corner’ shop, but the Crooked Spaniards Inn was doing good trade this evening. I happen to have picked up their number one mooring which seems to be going for free!

Mostly the mooring is peaceful, apart from the odd high speed power boat. Why they can’t slow down when passing between the moorings I don’t understand.

Tomorrow morning I’ll probably take the boat further up the River Tamar, past Cotehele, as far as Calstock, where my friend Geoff lives.

Friday, 27th May

I underestimated how long it would take to reach Calstock. Having made arrangements to meet Geoff at the Tamar Inn’s pontoon around 0900, I left the Cargreen mooring an hour before.

What a feast for the eye is the beautiful Tamer valley which meanders between undulating hills, some wooded and others set aside for sheep or cattle. Keeping to the deepest parts of the river was made easier by reference to an old copy of the Cruising Association Handbook. Where there was a choice of which river bank to follow, the one with the steepest side is always the one to take.

At a few locations where road access to the river is possible there are boat yards, such as the one at Weir Quay on the east bank, a mile and half north of Cargreen. It brought back memories of 1974 when I left ‘Shyauk’ there before entering her for the Round Britain Race. She was a 24 foot boat, the smallest permissible for entry at the time. In fact I had to add 3 inches to her bow to qualify for entry.

An old ketch named ‘Shamrock’ is preserved at Cotehele. Although she did not have an engine she was used for carrying coal, and to this day she does not have an engine, despite the fact she is used for special occasions perhaps involving historic boats.

Before Calstock the river takes a sharp bend to the east and becomes quite narrow, especially as it passes under a very high railway bridge.

On arrival at the Tamar Inn’s pontoon at 0935 and I was relieved to find Geoff patiently waiting there. I was really pleased to have a crew once again, as I had missed Gordon’s company when he left ship at Brighton.

Returning back the way we had come gave a new perspective of this beautiful river. Sheltered beneath a steep sided bank, a live-aboard character with a Broads type motor cruiser, shouted to us saying he was going to catch eels. Geoff told me this man makes his living by doing so.

It was a perfect morning, being warm and sunny.

By mid-day we were at the southern end of the Hamoaze, having passed the naval dockyard to port, where there was an aircraft carrier. Once we had motored through the dredged channel known as ‘The Bridge’ we hoisted sail and finished our lunch. ‘Fred’, the windvane steering gear, took us outside the breakwater and over to Cawsands.

As the wind faltered we put the engine on and made our way to St Anne’s Battery Marina so that I could have a shower and get the computer and mobile phone fully charged.

To celebrate our reunion Geoff and I had an enjoyable meal at the Marina restaurant.

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