22ndSeptember. We’ve enjoyed our time in Falmouth, a town busy with holiday-makers, bronzed teenagers, and lots of boats, modern and traditional.  We’ve seen friends, enjoyed locally-roasted coffee, and soaked up the atmosphere. Jonathan has made great connections for the podcast too – Falmouth is the last of the ’12 Ports’. 

Strong winds and rain are forecast for the rest of the week, so we had settled into the idea of a few more days in this fun place – useful time to work, rest and play. But sometimes you have to make a quick decision and change the plan. Over our porridge this morning, we realised that today was a weather window we probably shouldn’t miss: dry and sunny until the evening, wind not too strong until later and the swell wouldn’t have built up. So a good day to get to Plymouth.

We were ready to leave soon after 10am.  Because we have done our passage planning for the next few trips, we already had some waypoints entered onto our charts, so all we had to do was check the exact tides for today, add one more waypoint, and set out. It was one of those occasions we were grateful for our checklists– it would be easy to forget something important in a rush to depart. 

We put our sails up in the growing chop as we approached Black Rock, near the harbour entrance, and bore away past St Anthony’s Head lighthouse. Nova settled into a fast beam reach and we headed towards Dodman Point. It was sunny and the sea was blue-green flecked with white wave-tops, matching the white of the towering cumulus clouds over the land. A couple of other boats were heading the same way as us, others sailing up-wind the opposite direction – all appearing and disappearing as the swell rose and fell. We passed familiar Cornish seaside towns: Portloe, with the spectacular 38m high Gull Rock just off the entrance, and later Fowey and Looe.  A couple of dolphins popped up briefly to greet us just after we’d passed Dodman Point, leaping alongside the boat.

Cornish coastline

The swell increased as we got nearer to Plymouth and it was quite rolly as we sailed downwind past Rame Head towards the lighthouse at the western end of Plymouth breakwater. A large grey vessel steamed towards us: a German naval vessel, on its maiden journey.

German military vessel

Inside the breakwater the water flattened, and we took our sails down and motored gently past Drake island as the large cross-channel ferry set off.  By 5.15pm we were moored up in Mayflower marina, ready to stop and pleased that we had made the trip before the rain started and the wind increased. 

Nova at Mayflower marina
  • Distance:42nm. Sailed 6.5h, motored 0.5h
  • Wind: SW4-5


On our passage ‘Around These Islands’ Anne is writing about each trip, and Jonathan is writing some more ‘technical’ blogs, from our perspective as ordinary cruising sailors. We are sharing what we’ve learned, and welcome your thoughts too. Please remember that this blog – and your comments – are public.

There’s also a special focus on 12 key ports on our planned route, with articles from These Islands and a series of podcasts from Chrome Media called ‘Around These Islands in 12 Ports’.


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