BRIGHTON TO FALMOUTH
VIA THE SCILLY ISLES
By Arthur Hallett
The first leg to Falmouth began for me when I received Skipper Dan Hass' letter giving me the names of the crew, his brief observations on what to bring, when to arrive, and asking us to regard the trip as an adventure. This letter helped me to feel that I was going to enjoy the week and was welcome. Thanks, Dan.
The crew were to join Marabu at Brighton Marina on Friday 15th June at 21:00. I finished working on Marabu’s engine at 18:30. The skipper, on smelling my efforts on the engine and hearing the comments of the crew, decided we should scrub out the boat – which we did. We finally sailed at about 15:00 on Saturday after enjoying more repairs, modifications and some reorganisation of stores, and the hard-working examples of John Kapp, Nigel McMillan and of course Dan.
We were off – the engine worked. Sails up – Cherbourg here we come. The wind was rising as darkness came; we had now divided it-into three watches and were now beginning to attach names to our fellow members. We were 11 in total: Sue, Angela, Josephine, Robert, John, Graham, Nick, Nigel, Aubrey, Dan and myself. It averaged Force 4 during Saturday night. We set watches of five hours on, six off – a very happy selection, long enough to settle down, not too long to get over-cold or sleepy. I felt quite groggy trying to undress below decks up for’ard pitching and in darkness, but none of us was seasick. Watches were not continued between breakfast and late evening, giving us all a chance to have a go at various jobs including chores and relaxing.
My impressions of Cherbourg were of a sleepy town on Sunday with some tourist shops open, and I found the courage to ask the locals a few questions in schoolboy French. Much to my joy they understood me – although I did not fully get their replies. It was good; I had gone ‘French’.
We slept on board in the harbour; wonderful – no one woke me at an unearthly hour.
Alderney, here we come. Get your duty-free lined up for 11 determined sailors. We anchored and went ashore by dinghy, several of us trying our hand for the first time at driving an outboard. We got our duty-free – a taxi full of bottles, and someone a skin so full he had to sleep it off on the quay wall. Graham also excelled himself accepting and winning an aggressive challenge of darts from a drunken objectionable Australian. By now we were all very able seamen, having had our hands well and truly ‘highfield levered’. We tailed for our girl winch-men and knotted our muscles instead of warps. We were enjoying ourselves.
Falmouth was the next port. We arrived at Dodman Point with fine navigation and moored in St Mawes Bay, having come practically all the way from Cherbourg and Alderney by that evil-smelling clatter box in the stern. St Mawes Yacht Club gave us welcome showers and beer.
Leaving there on Tuesday with a light wind we headed for the Scillies. We went to refuel at Coverack, as the wind was dropping and it seemed that the old clatterbox would be doing most of the driving again. Our mooring chain snapped whilst the refuelling crew were away, so we had to drop anchor smartly. Jerrycans and tanks full, we headed once more for the Scillies, and arrived at dusk, having approached Hugh Town, St Mary’s, from the safe south and west passages. Once more good navigation and good slogging from Old Perkins in a day of perfect sunshine made a dream picture of yachting with the girls and boys in total relaxation on sailbags and the warm dry deck. What a pity the skipper and helmsman had to work!
The following afternoon a party of us joined the tourist ferry to Tresco and in the evening we all enjoyed a hearty meal in Hugh Town. Rejoining Marabu by dinghy was a bit hairy in a choppy sea and darkness – wet bottoms and life jackets plus the Skipper very much in charge gave me a little insight into just how risky this simple trip could be.
At first light we set off for Falmouth with good visibility and an increasing wind – very enjoyable without clatterbox. What a day it was: we passed just north of Wolf Rock and well south of Lands End, and had plenty of time to explore the beautiful Helford River. It was a pity we had to go on to Falmouth instead of staying there, but our duty to present a shipshape ship on time to the ‘take over’ crew compelled us. We spent the late evening at the Falmouth Yacht Club.
Washing down, refuelling, packing and tie-up to pierhead complete, next day about 19:00 we were heading homewards in the minibus, and dawn breaking I was pleased to see my home in Saltdean at about 04:00 on Sunday. A grand week – yes! As predicted an adventure with enjoyable company in a happy stalwart ship.