Thursday, 28 April 2011

Falmouth the Sequel "Suspicion and other things"

It is worth noting at this juncture that the character written about in the previous passage was not a local of Falmouth. He visited on the weekends to see his estranged and quite possibly strange family. For the most part the people of Falmouth are suspiciously friendly. Suspicion fades with time, the people here are just really nice. Helpfulness, chattiness and smiling faces are not something I associate with England but the rub lies in that wonderfully large and vibrant city London. London is not England. What is England then?

It is certainly not the perpetually balmy weather that has bathed us since we made landfall. Towards then end of Atlantic passage I started enquiring about foul weather gear and if we had ice picks for climbing the mast. What greeted us in Falmouth has been for the most part quite nice. Crisp mornings and sunshine well into the daylight saving hours. Day after day of sun drenched spring. Where are we again? Even the English I work with do not believe the weather. "It won't last" "this is our Summer it will be snowing next week" "where is my handkerchief to put upon my head?"

Speaking of which we had quite an awesome Sunday past.

We had a great walk to a local hotel and health spa. There were people swimming in the 10 degree water at Gily Beach. The softer ones were wearing wet suits.

The Spa surrounds were an immaculate garden modeled in a sub tropical style (not my words)

My picture though, and it it looks pretty sub tropical.

The Hotel is called Saint Michaels Hotel & Spa and I am pleased to report we felt very healthy and relaxed when we left. I am less than happy to report the 10 hour drinking session that followed was not healthy and I felt quite poorly the next day. Suspicious? No, just stupid.

The insanity that surrounds the Royal family and weddings has not escaped me here in Falmouth. The costume shops of which there are two have had an alarming array of Royal wedding themed outfits in every shape and size. Things reached a fever pitch on Friday. I briefed myself quite well in front of breakfast television and started to get nervous about the whole thing. The closest we got to anything royal was one of the local swans going out for a paddle. Swans are large beasts and if the Royal Family ever wants to branch out, KFS or Kentucky Fried Swan would be a fantastic franchise. Imagine a royal wedding carriage with a KFS logo artfully placed upon the gilded gold.

I am not serious. Or am I?

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Falmouth and Foulmouths

The Dawn Treader had been lurching through pendulous seas for weeks. Bacon and home made ice cream were reaching dangerously low levels. Morale was slipping and visibility with it. Where was Britannia and salvation?

Salvation it turns out was not far away. The English channel is a lumpy horrible place at the best of times. The ragged coastline of Cornwall was a welcome sight. The deep waters of Falmouth Harbour were as good a place to make home without taking the boat to New Zealand.

First impressions of Cornwall were made long before we tied up the boat. A delightful mess up had left us without a berth. Our Captain sounded positively tyrannous as he barked down the phone at numerous slack jawed oafs(my words but he probably would have said them if he was not swearing so much) Duty and customs officers were just as amiss. They were not interested we were coming to town. They finally turned up today a week later. This was long after I have shipped off my imaginary exotic spices, sugar and special tobacco from the Spanish main to the black market. My opinion of Falmouth was reinforced with my first trip into Hogwarts (Falmouth town) The shops are not interested in being open after 5:14pm and they close on a Wednesday afternoon for high tea or something equally English.  

England remains a wonderfully strangely familiar place. Everything seems so lush after the Caribbean. Even the abundance of paved roads seems decadent. We had a great walk around Falmouth on our very first morning.

Ah green and blue bliss and a bit of pink (unsure what lies behinds those gates)

On Friday night we ate out for our chef. The restaurant was superb as was its name Hunky Dory. We went to a cocktail bar afterward to drink some espresso Martinis. Our Chef's name is Martini.

I am truly sorry if this next paragraph is overly acerbic but it is not all Cornish pasties and clotted cream in Falmouth.

Being a magnet for the Supernatural, odd and mentally disenfranchised somehow a very odd person attached himself to our party and therefore me. His name was Roy and he (in his on words) was a failed husband, father and exotic spice salesman amongst other things. For some reason he saw fit to share large unhealthy tracts of his life with us all. Especially me for some reason. I guess the aftershocks of this chance meeting gave me impetus to write something so thank you Universe. I think?

With that purged from my system I can turn my efforts to writing about much more healthier parts of Falmouth and Cornwall.

Tune in tomorrow Cornwall time for more.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Atlantic crossing (West to East)

We have finally made landfall in Falmouth, England. Our voyage from Saint Martin took 11 days. We covered 3000 odd nautical miles and made one stop. The trip was not uneventful so let me get crazy with bullet points and we shall begin.

  • Weather; Compared with the sublime weather we had on the way to the Caribbean this journey was a bit more bracing. There were some calculated risks taken with regards to the weather and I am happy to say arrived in Falmouth safely and ahead of schedule. The gradual change in the temperature was quite noticeable when you have spent 6 months in a tropical climate. As was the change in the water colour. The Atlantic gets grayer further north you go. This is probably something to do with plankton density or other scientific malarkey. 
Proof(Photos are from South to North top to bottom)(<--Deliberately confusing sentence)

  • Beard growing; Loveyjoy and I grew beards on the way over. Being only 21 and English James took a weeks head start on me. I did enjoy having a beard to keep my face warm but after a 10 year beard sabbatical, sadly I am still not much of a beard grower. I think it is my demigod heritage, real immortals are hairless. The final straw were orange hairs starting to sprout from my upper lip. The beard died this morning. RIP. More proof I am in fact descended from gods. The hairs on my chin were almost indestructible. I had to remove several layers of skin to purge my face of the transatlantic beard scourge.
  • A real scare; I remain convinced that walking around a boat in the dead of night in the middle of an ocean is one of the scariest things a person can do. 

scary deck at night

  • That is unless your crew mates conspired to give you a terrible fright. The first mate and I devised a devious plan to scare Lovejoy. After our watch change over at 4am we turned off a deck light and went and hid by the light switch. We did scare James sufficiently but I hid myself so well it took me a good 30 seconds to extricate myself from the hiding spot. My contribution to the scare was more of a congratulatory handshake as I stretched my legs. 
  • Whale spotting; High speed whale watching remains a fringe sport. By the time a dedicated lookout sees and announces a whale over radio the whale is almost out of sight. That didn't stop me from sighting a whale and taking some very murky photos of the said whale expelling air in a friendly fashion.

  • Ocean sanding;When I was not whale watching, scaring, beard growing or sleeping I spent a few hours a day sanding. I sanded every day bar two. Sanding at sea is an aquired taste, as is the chairs I was sanding. I am not sure what else to say about this but if sanding chairs over a few thousand miles is on your bucket list replace it with beard growing or something else more exciting. 
  • Horta and the Azores; We did take one pitstop on our trip. The Azores are one of those far fetched places that sailors only ever visit. A Portuguese archipelago they have the distinction of being in the middle of the Atlantic where there not much else. Being there for only 6 hours or so I did not have much time to explore other than the inside of a cafe which had very tasty red wine. It also had some Danish sailors singing very poor renditions of sea shanties.

That is it for now. Obviously we are in undiscovered territory at the moment and once I find my star trek translator I will be beaming down onto the Cornish coast for some bold discovery or something like that.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The next chapter

With the curtain falling on our Caribbean sojourn it is time both to reflect on the past week and crystal ball gaze forwards to what might be.

The second week of our boss trip went smoothly enough I adjusted to daylight hours and our boss took the unprecedented step of actually cruising instead of hanging off Saint Barths like some very well appointed loiterer.We cruised Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda before returning to Saint Barths.

With out my phone it was hard to sneak photographs. So with some googe-fu I shall show you what I saw kind of.

My phone remains dead boo.

Nevis was clearly a dormant volcanoe, what made it intriguing is that the cone seemed to be perpetually surrounded in cloud. If it suddenly became active what would the cloud do? Would Nevis go red with embarrassment? The funniest thing I witnessed in Nevis was an interaction between our boss and a couple of the resort security guys. We were the only motor yacht for miles to see. This was the conversation.

Local "We be going to that yacht later on yo"
Boss "Sure cocktails start in an hour we have everything"
Local "Yeah it looks like my Uncles"
Boss" You remind me of my Brother.... he has the same teeth"

Antigua was nice and familiar. We actually tied the boat up which is unheard of for our boss. Eric Clapton's boat turned up along side and I tried not to be star struck, much. Bring tied up allowed us to have a few drinks after work and reacquaint ourselves with the nearest watering hole.

Devon the barman was in fine spirits and somehow our conversation meandered towards the relative safety of Antigua as opposed to Saint Martin. It is here I must digress and let you know a part of the Carribean that I have glossed over as not to alarm you. It is quite dangerous here. We had a chef murdered about four boats down from us about a month ago. To put things in perspective,

"By some statistics, yachting is a dangerous occupation. Occupational dangerousness is generally measured in deaths per 100,000. Firefighting, for example, – an occupation just outside the top ten most dangerous jobs – is said to have an average of seven deaths per 100,000" However, with only about 40,000 yachties, and coupled with the fact that we have had more than four reported deaths in the last few months, yachting statistically is a “dangerous job.” In fact, yachting, following these statistics, is slightly more dangerous than firefighting. Dockwalk 

Anyway Devon was happy to inform us that most of the violence in Antigua is gangsters murdering each other. They are generally good shots and the police take the pragmatic approach of letting them kill each other. Isn't that nice? I have not felt unsafe here but my spidey sense has been triggered a couple of times and I am happy we are heading to the relative safety of Europe.

We spent a day anchored off Barbuda the next day. Barbuda reminded me a lot of the Maldives. A huge atoll with a massive beach, enough said. 

Please admire how blasé I have become about tropical vistas

After Barbuda it was back to Saint Barths for familiarities sake and we dropped the Boss off in Saint Martin the very day. Back in Saint Martin it is pack, stow and lash before we head across the Atlantic again. Barcelona has been scrubbed from our list of destinations for one far more exotic....... Falmouth on the Cornish coast of England. This will be our home for 4-6 weeks while we have some work done. Cornwall is where my late Granny came from. So in a surprising fashion the universe has provided me with a way to pay my respects and inspect her roots.

From there it is off across the North sea and into the Baltic. We are going to cruise Norway, Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia. Although at the moment all I know about is Copenhagen in Denmark. Uncle Phil has promised he will bring the poodle down to Copenhagen.

We have lost a couple of crew with the end of the season. One of them was a tremendous beard grower on crossings. In the interest of science I will be attempting to grow a beard across the Atlantic. Photos forthcoming.

Not sure how much longer I will have internet. I will try and do some writing on the crossing in between beard growing, navigation and engine room watches. I am a bit disappointed with my writing output but I saw this quote the other day and smiled.

“Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.”

- Lawrence Kasdan

I was absolutely terrible at homework so I think I am doing ok.