Marabu Cruises


By Brenda McCurdy

Onboard: Colin Macdonald (Skipper), Harry Macdonald, Margaret Macdonald, Andrew Clark, Graham Clark, Laurent Poutas, Brenda McCurdy, Mike Sharp

17–24 July 2004

We arrived at Falmouth to find the place besieged by Dragons – a rally which was keeping the harbour staff busy and the pontoons full. Marabu was out on an island pontoon, surrounded by seagulls, it seemed, and not entirely happy.


However, the harbourmaster took us out and we settled in, had a meal and an early night. Laurent soon decided he could not sleep in the ‘letter-box’ and made a nest for himself on deck.


Sunday morning was shopping time, then we explored the excellent Maritime Museum in the afternoon. Meanwhile Andrew and Graham worked on repairs to the boat. The forecast was Force 4–6 north/north-west – not ideal for the Scillies, and the tides were not helpful.


On Monday we went only as far as the Helford River – always a beautiful place to be. Then, following our Skipper’s cunning plan, we sailed overnight for the Scillies, thus achieving a more favourable tide. We spent Tuesday morning on St. Mary’s and we were able to shop and then take the ferry to St. Agnes. After a leisurely walk on the beach we met for a meal in the island’s pub. Next day, some of us visited Tresco and the three of us who had been there last year went for
a walk.


It is always a pleasure to be in the Scillies, but Thursday morning was foggy and we needed to leave. We left hoping it would clear – and were rewarded with a beautiful sunny day and a south wind of up to 10 knots. We saw porpoises and enjoyed good sailing – with a final rush to get into the harbour at Penzance at the end of the day. We rafted up alongside several rather large ex-fishing boats. A nice pub and a good meal was enjoyed – and the showers there were passable.


The next morning we had to be away at 05:30 before the tide dropped, but then anchored for a while before going across to explore St. Michael’s Mount, which we all enjoyed. It was amusing to eat our lunch on the boat and watch people hurrying across the causeway, trying to beat the tide and looking like matchstick men walking on water.


We headed back to Falmouth in the sunshine, but the wind soon died and fog closed in again. We used the engine and the radar to guide us back. And soon enough, we were back in the familiar pub at Falmouth.


Colin and Margaret left the next morning, but Harry drove the rest of us to Land’s End. We saw only the car park. In thick fog, we retreated to St. Ives, where we found sunshine, a good lunch and the Tate Gallery.


Sunday arrived, and phase II of the trip started. Mike Sharp had arrived, while Harry and Laurent left. We pottered around the estuary, entertained some friends to lunch on board at St. Mawes, and headed again for the Helford River – pretty close to heaven on earth.


Next day, with the 560 jib, we had a leisurely sail towards Fowey. A meal and a walk to the point and then home by water taxi – the lazy option! The harbour is very attractive at night, with boats all around and lights from the tall houses streaming across the water.


In the morning we fortified ourselves with coffee and teacakes and shopping while a small tear in the sail was repaired. High winds were forecast, so we could not sail. Mike went for a long, wet walk in the afternoon and the rest of us did not do very much – the way one does.


Wednesday, and we sailed gently to Plymouth – no engine needed. The Hoe was looking very splendid, the weather was fine and we found a good restaurant.


Next morning, a tour of the harbour was impressive – it was interesting to see an aircraft carrier emerging with protective speedboats ‘riding shotgun’ and warning us to keep our distance. We headed back towards Falmouth and another beautiful anchorage in the Helford River on Thursday evening.


On Friday we explored upstream a little way, but then it was the inevitable end-of-voyage chores. It’s always sad when it’s time to leave Marabu and go home.