Tuesday, 19 June 2007

The Cornish Coast

Days 32 to 41
Wed 06 to Fri 15 Jun

Wake up on the beach and after an interview with Pirate FM I'm off into lumpy seas. Start Point is very bouncy and I can feel my knees shaking against the hull.

Then I'm round and passing the yachtie heaven of Salcombe. It's a short day today as I'm waiting for new maps to arrive in Plymouth. Sightseeing, I put on to Burgh Island.

I've been told that the Pilchard Inn brews a fine pint and does good food. Sadly I was lied to - the Pilchard didn't do either in this instance. Out of cash, I was kindly hosted by the staff of the Pilchard who let me sleep on the veranda. They even rustled me up a silver service steak from the hotel (where Agatha Christie wrote two books). Thank you to all the staff for their hospitality.

Onto Plymouth and I pick up my maps after an evening in the Marina Club (thanks to Fiona the barmaid and Mike the florist for the BB updates!). Fowey is the next stop - a gorgeous harbour with steep sides and the occasional large ship.

As I arrive the RNLI heads out - turns out two kayakers had talked a woman down off the cliffs.
Crossing the mouth of the Falmouth Estuary the next day, a huge bank of fog moves in and stop at Porthowell where I meet Ian and Jackie who are holiday diving - they offer me accommodation in Skye when I paddle round Scotland.

The previous day's flat calm has turned choppy as I round the Lizard (after a tea break in Cadgewith). The Lizard feels really remote and I stop for the night next to Marazion and St Michael's Mount near Penzance.

Then it's Land's End and I'm rather overawed by it. As it's neap tides at 05:00 I decide I can't make St. Ives in one day so stop in Sennen Cove. Land's End is lovely - rugged scenery and the atmosphere is great. However, ship wrecks show that it's not always so cuddly. I also see my first basking shark at 15-metre range.

Leaving Sennen for St. Ives I move up to cape Cornwall. Here are six more sharks including one 25-foot beast who hits the side of my boat with its dorsal fin. You really have to remind yourself it's not Jaws - I'm convinced it didn't know I was drifting there till it brushed me. However, I feel guilty for getting that close - it's not good.

St. Ives is lovely and the harbour master Steve gives me a tour while the boat is stored at the RNLI station. I also meet up with Simon Osbourne and his missus. Simon paddled round the UK a couple of years and and we swap stories.

Next morning they come with me to give me a rescue refresher - the first time I've tried it with a fully-loaded boat. Just as well as I swim on my first roll! However, a couple of pointers (i.e. slow down!) and I nail them and the roll/re-entry. A relief as this is a weight off my mind.

The next days take me to Newquay (Blackpool wannabe), Port Isaac (lovely, and I saw Martin Clunes filming for ITV - also home of great crab salads) and Bude (where the boat overnights in the breakfast room of the three-star Falcon Hotel).

I should spend longer talking about Cornwall - it's been on the most fantastic places I've ever paddled and the people were very friendly - but time marches on. Also great beer - Doom Bar is a fine pint.

In the words of California's guvnor: "I'll be back..."

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