Category Archives: 2014 08 UK – South Coast

A bit of this, a bit of that

Thursday, August 28, 2014

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE

“I’VE got the baby! I’ve GOT the Baby!”

Say the above in a loud British accent and you will have heard echoes of that tirade from parents as they herded their exhausted kids away from London’s Natural History Museum stuffed to the gills with giant mammoths, ferocious and benign dinosaurs and lilting butterfly exhibits. This is what accompanied us as we stepped off the London Underground (“The Tube”) as a frustrated and tired Dad wrestled a baby carriage from the train and onto the platform.

The particular individual to whom I was referring earlier was followed by a passel of children all under the age of five along with some other kid-worn and cranky adults. When he followed his baby screech and yelled “Where’s SMELLY PANTS?”, we knew it had been an oh, so very loooong and terrible day.

All I can say is, I hope whoever earned the name Smelly Pants was wrecking sweet
revenge on that dad for, if owner of said pants was too young to answer back, at least his odifurous breeches were doing it for him.

The whole purpose of this side trip (via land) was to check out marinas likable for winter berths. With rainy weather and unfavorable winds forecasted for the next few days, we decided to leave JUANONA safely berthed at the Weymouth marina and head northeast by train.

Our first stop was a river city/town on the southern, east coast, where we booked two nights at Old Times Guest House (where we were wonderfully welcomed by the owner, Kelly). After visiting (and liking) Ipswich with its proximity to a small downtown, including great lap pool, lots of scheduled events, and the requisite cafes (for those lattes and now scones), we headed for one night in London to see Limehouse (pretty industrial feeling but also HQs for a great organization, Cruising Association) and St. Katherine’s (pretty elegant feeling with very polite city folk).

We were able to also do some sight-seeing, which is how we came to be around the prickly dad and tykes. Although we had planned to visit the Natural History Museum after the Victoria & Albert, the long, zig-zag line of zombie parents and excitable kids dissuaded us quite rapidly. We were just as happy to start our stroll to Princess Diane’s Memorial in Hyde Park.

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[Princess Diana’s Memorial is a bisected oval in the bottom right, just below The Serpentine.]

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I had been mesmerized and enchanted by this memorial when I first saw it with my sister Betsy in 2010:

The second time only added to the wonder as kids frolicked in the water going round and round.

Built of stone from Wales and fueled by water that’s pumped out in the evening, circulated, and pumped back in refreshed every day, this circular sculpture offers children and adults the pleasure of strolling through a babbling, bubbling brook. About every 30 feet or so there’s yet another type of cut in the stone, forcing the water to gurgle a different way.

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A gentle enforcer stood off to one side, calmly telling kids not to run. When they got too boisterous, he just asked them to take five minutes to relax and reset, then go back in. I don’t think you could have asked for a better ‘policeman’ to supervise these kids (I knew HE would never would belittle a kid by calling them Smelly Pants.)

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We enjoyed the water

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along with other adults

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and, of course, the kids who couldn’t get enough of this playful stream.

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Too bad the tyrannical dad couldn’t have ended his day with his children here. He might been just a little bit sweeter… as, possibly, would have the pants.

Saturday, August 30,2014

COASTAL CRUISING

You mean we’re REALLY going to use that thing hanging off the bow?

Considering this would only be the third time we’ve anchored in 2014, it was with trepidation that I approached the bow to prep our 55-lb anchor.

The first time, Dick/Ricardo was aboard and it was Faja Grande in Flores (June 20).

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The second time we anchored just outside Velas’ marina on Sunday, July 6, to enter our berth the next day. It also happened we could go ashore to watch the bull run on the dock (a glimpse of JUANONA is in the background).

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And, now, drum roll, please, we left Weymouth harbor,

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under the careful scrutiny of the captain,

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ate our breakfast of butter-and-jam laden scones along with a pretense of healthy sustenance, yogurt and fruit,

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while we day-sailed to our anchorage in Studland Bay (no comment on the name) anchoring just off a festive beach

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and stunning cliffs.

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As we were preparing to anchor we kept hearing sonic booms. Finally, we realized why when we looked towards Bournemouth.

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We got another display of the Red Arrows’ avionic prowess. Again, our jaws jung open and we just stared.

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Rising and shining, okay, just rising, we left the next morning at 7 a.m. for Portsmouth to ensure we’d ride easily on the tides.

Snapping some of those beautiful cliffs in early morning sunlight

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we consumed our ‘healthy’ English breakfast,

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then proceeded to enjoy a blissful sail with wind at our backs accompanied by rollies, but ones you could predict so not queasy-making material, to The Solent.

For those familiar with this part of the English Channel, you’ll also know this area is notorious for amazing tidal currents. Actually, we sailed past Cowes on the Isle of Wight where the English held the first America’s Cup hoping to use local knowledge against the Americans. (Didn’t work.)

We took pics of the boiling current, never able to do justice with a quick snap but you get the idea.

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Just know it was flat calm once out of this patch of water.

And, also know I was terribly glad not to have to anchor anywhere near here as we finished up in Portsmouth Harbor. It was a lovely day on the water :)

MEN AND BOATS

Monday, September 1, 2014

What IS it about men and their fascination with Boats? I swear if I see another old ship or catch a whiff of another tarry rope I’m going to go drown myself in lattes or, just to be part of a naval tradition, RUM, better yet, G&Ts.

For, that’s what we did most of our one day here in naval land. No, not drown ourselves in alcohol but went goo-goo eyed from peering at old things found on ships as well as walking on old ships perched on land.

Portsmouth not only is a naval shipyard of new but also of old, including hosting the HMS VICTORY, Lord Horatio Nelson’s ship on which he died during the Battle of Trafalgar off the coast of southern Spain, as well as the MARY ROSE, Henry VIII’s pride and joy (although this one he couldn’t cut the head off).

To get across we rode the ten-minute pedestrian ferry from Gosport (where our marina was located) to Portsmouth, catching sight of some window-cleaning

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which, when seen from afar, would not be my idea of an ideal job.

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But, back on topic to why we were crossing from Gosport to Portsmouth and its Historic Dockyards in the first place…

I must say the MARY ROSE was an amazing exhibit. At first I thought it’d be an old carcass of a ship, actually only part of a ship. Yet, what we discovered was a captivating story-telling of a medieval ship’s demise and life aboard.

Briefly, it sank July 19th, 1545, during a stand-off in The Battle of The Solent, a three-day engagement where the French were hoping to draw the British fleet out of Portsmouth Harbor and the British refusing. MARY ROSE sank when it turned to shoot at the enemy ships only to be caught by a gust of wind in full sails. With netting covering the ship (used to prevent boarding by the enemy when alongside), less than 40 crew out of 500 survived in the 30-40′ deep waters.

The French did leave, which historians believe was due to not having enough fresh water aboard or the ability to obtain more due to the heavily defended, English coast. So, it could be termed a Brit victory of sorts. Yet, as one guide said, the reason you don’t hear much, if at all, about this battle is because Henry VIII who was there also didn’t want to hear much about the sinking of his prized possession. Nor, evidently, did his second daughter as Shakespeare kept mum on the subject, too.

MARY ROSE fortunately is being talked about now, and it makes for a fascinating display of life aboard a 16th century ship (In case you’re wondering, it didn’t seem all that appealing). Re-discovered in mid 1800s and raised over 100 years later with better technology, this huge artifact is still in the process of being preserved. To view the hull one peers through glass windows into a dry tank with an array of modern scaffolding.

Just as an aside, we were told the MARY ROSE was gently excavated in 1982 from its muddy resting place only to be gently lowered back down because Prince Charles was suppose to be there. According to someone we met while waiting for the train in Weymouth who happened to be good friends with the guy who oversaw this archaeological event, the second raising caused it to break apart; but, then, like with Henry VIII and Queenie Elizabeth I, you don’t hear anything much, if at all, about the second coming of MARY ROSE…)

Rather than bore you with my oohs-and-ahhs, I’ll just highlight some of the moments we enjoyed. Originally, I was thinking thirty minutes max to run through this museum only to exit dazed 2-1/2 hours later.

Old portrait of the MARY ROSE

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Why Henry VIII didn’t bring this up at his banquets

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How the crew were stuck on the ship

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This canon dating from HENRY VIII’s time was how they knew the MARY ROSE was what was sunk in the mud.

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for keeping hair neat as well as nit-free (gross… and there were A LOT of these combs found)

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Dog paw print from way-back-when in one of the tiles used in the galley

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How much of the ship was left by the time they got to pulling it out of the mud

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Because I thought it was funny when the little kid exclaimed in a very loud voice ‘look, there’s a butt!’ when spotting the displayed hip bones sitting atop leg bones (kid knew his anatomy).

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The only surviving crow’s nest (it was a spare but had been used) from that time

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Piece of the sail

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And, Max testing his ability to handle a medieval bow…

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then getting some professional instruction…

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then REALLY testing his power when the guide mentioned he only had it half pulled back.

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A Fletcher listening to how arrows were fletched

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and, lastly, trying to convey the actual size of this ship

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NOTE: To see how they’re preserving this, I found a wonderful article at this site: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2014/03/mary-rose-conservation-preservations. Scheduled completion is in 2015 when a visitor will get a completely different view of this historical treasure.

But, our day wasn’t over because we had HMS VICTORY right next door. Oh joy.

So, we trekked off to that, entering by ducking our heads

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and continually reminding ourselves to do that as we wandered the maze of middle deck, upper deck, below decks, lower deck and out.

To me, the best part was Nelson’s own quarters, including where he discussed the Trafalgar battle plan with his fleet’s captains. They continue to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar with annual dinners held in this location (actual table, though, is now in the museum next door).

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Nelson hung a portrait of his love, Lady Emma Hamilton, in his chambers (he had an interesting love life).

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Where Nelson was shot was also noted.

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Finally, thirty minutes later we were out, or, at least, I was.

One does wonder what his career would have been like if he had lived. He was only 47 when he died and a brilliant naval strategist. He was also a great leader, taking interest in his men’s lives and ensuring they received credit for their accomplishments. After touring the ship and an accompanying museum it’s easy to understand why his country idolized this man.

All-in-all, the Portsmouth Dockyards offer a historical view of ‘back then’; and, I must admit, it was a day well spent.

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However, I do know you would not have found me on a ship way back then…

Yahoo! Whoopieee!! YEA!!!!

Those are MY shouts of celebratory glee as we made our LAST overnight passage for awhile :)

This morning, Saturday, August 23, we arrived at Weymouth, our next port of call.

It was another washing-machine sail due to the strong currents that flood around the southern coast of England; but, that’s what those patches are for :)

We managed to get here early, which means we had to hold off entering the harbor until we got better light.

And, we did :)

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Thanks to my captain he got me, crew, and JUANONA across the Atlantic, and all with a smile and an I’ll-bear-it grin for any of my moans and groans.

So, here’s to everyone who supported us, including our fantastic crew and land sherpas, thank you all for making this Atlantic crossing something wonderfully memorable.

And, here’s to daytime sailing… :)

Fee, Fie, Foe…no, no, FOY, I say

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.

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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,

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which included one of Henry VIII’s defense fortresses, Pendennis Castle,

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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…).

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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.

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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 :).

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In honor of our friends Steve and Katie, we played one of his CDs he brought aboard;

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and, JUANONA sailed on…

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with the drogue line drying (daily rain showers haven’t helped much in that regard);

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and, with NO BOUNCING I easily made it to the mast and bow, walking, not crab-crawling.

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Sailing between 7 and 8 kts, we passed Cornish cliffs

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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.

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It being Regatta Week at Foy, we passed a number of yachts preparing for the starting gun,

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with one reminding us of Peter Stoops and Katie Wilkinson’s boat, a beautiful Swan 35, FREEDOM

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Entering the harbor at the entrance of the Fowey River,

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it’s as if someone started enhancing all the colors as we gazed around us, taking in the local beach scene,

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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),

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and beautiful wooden sailboats.

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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.

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Ensuring all was shipshape (flowers out of the head and bilge emptied), we dinghied ashore where a flamboyance of activity greeted us.

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The swans lent a more tranquil air to the scene.

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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.

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Finding one, we proceeded to chow down (I know he’s going to get back at me for this one)

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and met a couple from Yorkshire who were down for two weeks vacation.

We watched more racing in the distance

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and just enjoyed being ashore in such a festive town.

Strolling back to the boat

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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.

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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!’

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and we pointed the dinghy towards the opposite shore.

Sure enough, a crowd had gathered along the town quay

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to watch a race of home-made rafts. The first were young-uns.

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with finishers being towed home.

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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.

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We headed back to JUANONA (boat behind the one with flags and a small one rafted to us)

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while spotting a boat named the same as our crew member Dick/Ricardo and Gail’s boat, Namaste.

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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)

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and a croissant, then got ready to catch the bus to St. Austell where we could walk 30 minutes up to Eden.

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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,

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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,

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and ripe ones neither of us could resist.

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Soon we saw a sign pointing to Eden, indicating a footpath.

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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,

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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:

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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…

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The landscape was filled with gardens

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with descriptive displays explaining the importance of these plants, usually with words causing us to smile.

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Some we even recognized from the Azores.

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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.

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Talk about an easy way to start a conversation.

Sculptures were both literal

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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,

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and where I spotted what could be some of my own personal tech waste.

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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.

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There were two major climate areas to explore under the biomes: the rainforest;

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and, the Mediterranean.

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We traveled the various countries’ flora, one where our camera became misty

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requiring a visit to the Cool Room to recoup.

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Created for imparting knowledge gently to all minds, beginning with some of the youngest,

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which, of course, I can never pass up…

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It’s easy to learn some quick facts as you peruse the signs throughout the exhibits, one by which I was particularly captivated…

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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.

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Unfortunately, it gets booked way in advance, and it being a holiday month here, we had to forgo that Superman/woman experience.

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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.

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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?

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But, time to retrace out route,

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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.

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We got ourselves back to JUANONA to find two other sailors rafting next to us, Chris and Graeme.

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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

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and in a tiny shop,

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then waiting for the parade while grabbing a pint (or two) and viewing some of the paraders.

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They weren’t particularly musical but could beat the drums and shoot a canon.

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From there we found a perch

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AND, a dwarf donkey… (Tricia, this is for you :)

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An hour later, after asking a policeman, we found a better viewing site

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and proceeded to laugh and clap as homemade paraders went by, beginning with the noisemakers

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and continuing with some wildly outfitted participants.

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After an hour or so, it was over, or so we thought as we headed back into the center of town.

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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.

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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)

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and where Max found a wall (his first wall pose since landing in England :).

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On the grounds was a very impressive castle,

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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.

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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,

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FULL STEAM AHEAD

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STARBOARD

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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

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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).

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Sean and Andy appeared happy to have done well in the first race but,

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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!

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Before too long we heard the zoom of nine jets as they swooped down on the town,

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alerting everyone to a thrilling air display. Hard to take photos but managed to capture some while exclaiming as they darted and performed aeronautically.

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And, the shoreline and harbor were peopled with many who came just for this show.

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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.

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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.

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Andy and Sean left to meet a friend or two in town

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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!