DAY 1 Tuesday, August 19, 2014 (bro-in-law Craig’s b’day)
We sailed off our mooring at 8a this morning, leaving Falmouth and our landing port behind.
This town has been an exceptionally welcoming place for us to recoup from our bouncy Bertha passage, and, we were both a bit sad to leave her in our wake,
which included one of Henry VIII’s defense fortresses, Pendennis Castle,
which we had toured over the weekend.
The requisite shower overtook us as we headed out of (what we were told) the third largest natural harbor in the world (and, it’ll need to be that for last night Carolyn of Amanzi told us 42 tall ships are coming in starting Sunday along with 100,000 more folk…).
Our destination was Fowey, or, as locals told us to pronounce it, ‘FOY’, only 20 miles away.
Winds were kicking up, which tends to make Max and JUANONA happy, as we rounded the point of land featuring yet another of Henry’s fortifications, St. Mawes Castle.
Winds, and currents, also require stowing of items that, after five days in port, it’s easy to forget, including some flowers Max bought (yes! he did! FRESH, CUT ones!). They made the head not only decorative but smelling sweet, too (double bonus :).
In honor of our friends Steve and Katie, we played one of his CDs he brought aboard;
and, JUANONA sailed on…
with the drogue line drying (daily rain showers haven’t helped much in that regard);
and, with NO BOUNCING I easily made it to the mast and bow, walking, not crab-crawling.
Sailing between 7 and 8 kts, we passed Cornish cliffs
and, as we neared Foy’s harbor, we passed what we initially thought were manmade pyramids so perfectly formed and silhouetted against the sky.
Yet, we read they are ‘spoil tips’, or china-clay deposits, located outside the village of St. Austell. Called the ‘Cornish Alps’ these deposits are the only places outside of China where this high quality and quantity of clay can be found.
It being Regatta Week at Foy, we passed a number of yachts preparing for the starting gun,
with one reminding us of Peter Stoops and Katie Wilkinson’s boat, a beautiful Swan 35, FREEDOM
Entering the harbor at the entrance of the Fowey River,
it’s as if someone started enhancing all the colors as we gazed around us, taking in the local beach scene,
townhouses clinging to the cliffside with the famous caves (Cornwall, because of its remoteness coupled with caves and rivers, became a haven for smugglers–or, as a local termed it more elegantly, privateers– for those trying to evade England’s tax on luxury goods),
and beautiful wooden sailboats.
We picked up a swinging mooring (i.e., not on a pontoon) after contacting the Foy Harbor Master who, like Falmouth, couldn’t have been more welcoming. He noted we will probably be rafting, which wasn’t a problem for us.
Ensuring all was shipshape (flowers out of the head and bilge emptied), we dinghied ashore where a flamboyance of activity greeted us.
The swans lent a more tranquil air to the scene.
We got some take-away (take-out) sandwiches (my first ploughman’s of the trip, but NOT the last) and searched for a bench on the local quay.
Finding one, we proceeded to chow down (I know he’s going to get back at me for this one)
and met a couple from Yorkshire who were down for two weeks vacation.
We watched more racing in the distance
and just enjoyed being ashore in such a festive town.
Strolling back to the boat
we hopped in our dinghy and headed across the narrow channel. No sooner had we tied up when Max spotted a young man with three damsels in distress; so, off he went to give them a tow home.
We took showers aboard before we celebrated being in Foy, which felt like Falmouth on steroids. But, no complaints here.
But, day’s not over yet. Max spots some activity across the way and says ‘cocktails aboard dinghy!’
and we pointed the dinghy towards the opposite shore.
Sure enough, a crowd had gathered along the town quay
to watch a race of home-made rafts. The first were young-uns.
with finishers being towed home.
The second was for an older age group, who were a little more muted in their celebrations (no water fights or splashing into the harbor) but still into the spirit of it all.
We headed back to JUANONA (boat behind the one with flags and a small one rafted to us)
while spotting a boat named the same as our crew member Dick/Ricardo and Gail’s boat, Namaste.
Arriving back at JUANONA there were the two sailors who had rafted next to us (Andy and Sean aboard CONNOSSOIEUR). We were hoping they were staying but, they were heading back into town to drive home for the night. We’d see them tomorrow as they were racing again for the next few days.
We wished them a good night, then put ourselves below and to bed with an early supper for tomorrow was another big day.
DAY 2 Wednesday, August 20, 2014
We awoke to a bit of a cloudy day, but no worries for us as we planned to visit an ecological park called “Eden”. We had read about it in a guidebook and had purchased tickets the day before at Fowey’s Tourist Office.
So, after breakfast and after seeing Andy and Sean off, we dinghied across, grabbed a pasty (a typical Cornish pastry stuffed with meat, potatoes, and onions)
and a croissant, then got ready to catch the bus to St. Austell where we could walk 30 minutes up to Eden.
While waiting for the bus we saw a pub dressing in a Monty Python theme for carnival, one of the anticipated events of Fowey Regatta Week,
a location we returned to that night.
Hopping off the bus we started to walk while breakfasting on fruit along the way for there were blackberries galore,
and ripe ones neither of us could resist.
Soon we saw a sign pointing to Eden, indicating a footpath.
Our destination appeared after a forty-minute walk from the bus stop, and it only seemed fitting to arrive on foot at what Max aptly termed an Ecological Disneyland.
Remember the china-clay pyramids we spotted on our sail to Foy? Well, mining of that clay had left many craters, and not necessarily pretty ones either. Some local folk had an idea, which germinated into proving humankind could work with nature, not just against it. The Eden Project was born, and we were looking forward to experiencing this transformation.
Entering via paths, signs began appearing preparing us for this environmentally friendly park,
and, we knew we were in for a treat.
Within a few minutes we had entered into this natural fairyland greeted with the words of the founder and a quick explanation for why and how these Biomes (large, climate-controlled structures) appeared:
I immediately thought of my college roommate, Carol W., who had taken a degree in environmental science back when it was still a fairly new concept. She, along with my so many of my friends, gardeners among them, would love this experience.
Below are photos trying to recreate this world for you, but for the much better and more complete explanation due yourself a favor and visit http://www.edenproject.com. In a few words, these two-layered space frames are covered with foil ‘windows’, i.e., three layers of Ethylenetetrafluoroethylenecopolymer (aka ETFE): inflated-two-meter-deep pillows. Transmitting UV light, ‘they weigh less than 1% of the equivalent area of glass, but can take the weight of a car.’ And, with the British humor we found sprinkled liberally in signage throughout this park, the guidebook continued with ‘We got into the Guiness Book of Records for using the most scaffolding, 230 miles of it – sorry to anyone who was needing some that year.’
The idea began in 1994, funding started slowly only to finally reach critical mass in 1999 when earlier planning could turn into reality. Spring 2000 there was an opening for a preview of Eden and completion of this marvelous, educational regeneration project in 2001. As Tim Smith (now Sir Tim) said this “Living Theatre of Plants and People” (also the name of Eden’s HQs) is to ‘celebrate our relationship with and dependence on plants…’.
In short, this educational charity explores how people can work together and with nature to change things for the better. The Eden Project took ‘a 35-acre global garden in a 50m-deep crater that was once a china clay pit to demonstrate regeneration and the art of the possible.’ And, boy, did they succeed…
The landscape was filled with gardens
with descriptive displays explaining the importance of these plants, usually with words causing us to smile.
Some we even recognized from the Azores.
You could see how walking through this fantastical land of plants would encourage questions and discussions. One place even asked for it with structures set up on picnic tables.
Talk about an easy way to start a conversation.
Sculptures were both literal
as well as educational, such as WEEEman (Waste Electrical and Electronic man) constructed of 3.3 tons, roughly one’ person’s trash of a lifetime,
and where I spotted what could be some of my own personal tech waste.
Among the gardens and in the biomes, we saw explorers dressed in period costumes introducing themselves and their life’s experiences to audiences. We stopped for a chat with a lad explaining Ernest Shakelton’s adventures, one of Max’s inspirational stories.
There were two major climate areas to explore under the biomes: the rainforest;
and, the Mediterranean.
We traveled the various countries’ flora, one where our camera became misty
requiring a visit to the Cool Room to recoup.
Created for imparting knowledge gently to all minds, beginning with some of the youngest,
which, of course, I can never pass up…
It’s easy to learn some quick facts as you peruse the signs throughout the exhibits, one by which I was particularly captivated…
as cockroaches are something I desperately try to avoid cultivating wherever I’m living… just ask Max.
This place also sports the longest zipline in England, one we both were eager to try. You can just make out the starting point in the left of the photo.
Unfortunately, it gets booked way in advance, and it being a holiday month here, we had to forgo that Superman/woman experience.
As we took an elevator back to where we started, we saw The Eden Project had been voted winner of Britain’s 2013 Travel Award. We weren’t surprised.
Can you tell from my attempt in describing our adventure that this project, conceived of by a few and believed in by so many, is truly inspirational, one we won’t likely to forget?
But, time to retrace out route,
including juuuussst missing by four minutes our bus back to Foy. No problem for we just grabbed some snack food from acoss the way as well as the local paper.
We got ourselves back to JUANONA to find two other sailors rafting next to us, Chris and Graeme.
They weren’t racing but were here to experience some of Foy’s festivities, including Carnival and the Red Arrows, Britain’s Blue Angels pilots.
Within an hour, Max and I headed back to shore, first to visit the sailmaker located up a narrow street
and in a tiny shop,
then waiting for the parade while grabbing a pint (or two) and viewing some of the paraders.
They weren’t particularly musical but could beat the drums and shoot a canon.
From there we found a perch
AND, a dwarf donkey… (Tricia, this is for you :)
An hour later, after asking a policeman, we found a better viewing site
and proceeded to laugh and clap as homemade paraders went by, beginning with the noisemakers
and continuing with some wildly outfitted participants.
After an hour or so, it was over, or so we thought as we headed back into the center of town.
But, no, not quite because we had been at the START of the parade, and by the time we got to where we could possibly walk back to our dinghy was EXACTLY when we heard the Foy Town Band come around the corner…
So, we tried to find a different route home, climbing back up the hill (one, which Max claims we must have climbed six times already today).
We didn’t find an escape route but did see some fine views, one being some majestic trees.
Spotting a large open gate, we strolled down the drive and had a lovely view of the harbor (JUANONA is second boat from the left)
and where Max found a wall (his first wall pose since landing in England :).
On the grounds was a very impressive castle,
which I thought was a private home, seeing two cars in the driveway and no signs saying ‘Welcome to…’; but, Max said no, until I saw him beckon me and oh so quietly unlock a gate where a stately “PRIVATE GROUNDS” sign was plastered to the wall.
Fortunately, we made it out undetected. Later, Andy and Sean, two of our rafting neighbors, told us the family’s ancestor (and, the same family still owns it but not too popular in town apparently) built the little tower atop his castle to be taller than the church. Evidently, there had been a falling out with the local vicar, and the castle owner decided to annoy him further. Must have worked to some extent if the family’s labeled a bit off-putting.
Retracing our steps back to the same street we had walked twenty minutes to avoid, we decided just to fall in line behind some of the paraders (we saw others doing it) and wound our way to another awe-inspiring sight, the dinghy dock,
FULL STEAM AHEAD
Untangling our line, we hopped in and motored back to JUANONA and went to bed happy to be in Foy and just as happy to be looking back at the crowds and not in them.
DAY 3 Thursday, August 21, 2011
And, we thought the town was already packed full… well, the dinghy dock from yesterday looked tame compared to this afternoon when we got off the boat to run some quick errands in town.
Circling back and forth three times after already trying to wedge ourselves amidst the other crammed dinghies, we finally found a spot and managed to boat-hop our way to the dock. Ashore we realized the dinghies were only a precursor to the throbbing milling of folk all here to see the Red Arrows, an air show we had specifically sailed to Fowey to see having missed them by 12 hours in Falmouth.
Back to JUANONA we went, prepping (loading dinghy on deck, stowing anything that could go airborne below, and emptying pee pot before harbor races) for an early morning departure for Weymouth, one of my LAST (for a long time) overnight sails.
We then awaited the traditional Cornish workboat races, one of two classes from Falmouth (they had raced here and stayed for Regatta Week, returning on Friday for the Tall Ships the following week in Falmouth).
Sean and Andy appeared happy to have done well in the first race but,
as they put it, knackered from having to handle their boat for another two races (an extra one to make up for the cancelled race the day before) in strong winds. We asked them aboard for beer and nibbles and proceeded to get more local knowledge from these two sailors.
Andy, an oceanographer, told the story of how he took his now-21-year-old daughter out in a small boat only to see the head of a sperm whale pop up. He realized it was quite small so took it for a baby whale; and, while his daughter squealed in delight, all he could think of was ‘where’s mama?’ Fortunately, no danger was involved: it was a rare sighting of a pygmy sperm whale.
The working boats raced around in this little harbor, how they avoided other boats, I don’t know, but they did!
Before too long we heard the zoom of nine jets as they swooped down on the town,
alerting everyone to a thrilling air display. Hard to take photos but managed to capture some while exclaiming as they darted and performed aeronautically.
And, the shoreline and harbor were peopled with many who came just for this show.
After the Red Arrows left trailing their plumes of red, blue, cream, and white, we heard the Foy Town Band striking up again on the community boat.
Andy pointed out they were bringing the giant pasty from the town across the harbor, Polruan, to Foy, where they then paraded it up the ramp and to the Town Quay where they distribute pieces to the children.
Andy and Sean left to meet a friend or two in town
while we prepared for our tomorrow’s passage to Weymouth area. All in all, Foy was another top spot on our cruising along this coast. Two-for-two now with Falmouth being our first. And, even better, we can sort-of pronounce Fowley as a local or, at least, as a visitor who’s been there before!