Night of a Fisherman_Newlyn And Penzance
Newlyn and Penzance
Night awaited us in Newlyn. Blinking white lights directing our road. “Do you have any dogs onboard?, asked the fisherman port watcher, suspiciously directing the flashlight into our faces and inside the hull of the boat. “A, no, Ok, than you are welcome.”
Newlyn is a fisherman port, dozens and dozens of fishing boats in their crying blue, yellow and orange colours. The biggest in England. Delivery trucks that bring fresh fish to our friendly local seller working 24/7.
Plastic clothes from feet to the head, hands in the ice all the time, endless fish smell, night work. Dragging the dead fish with the foot into the shipping containers. Dirty shower for 1 pound for ten minutes of boiling water. Just clear colors, Yellow and Blue. The dress code of the contemporary fisherman.
We have left the idea of romantic contemplation of the sea already somewhere beyond the horizon, but now we had to do it again.
Leaving reality check on the side, Newlyn and Penzance are fantastic cities. Jewels of Piracy. The real Admiral Benbow Inn from Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island is here. Escape tunnels in all the basements. They also have Jills, a shop with everything, the real MacGyver store. We got plastic helmet against the waves for our Fredy (Mercury 5HP), batteries, alcohol for burning, lighters with an image of almost naked men and kneepads.
Searching for wifi that we could not find anywhere we came across Newlyn art gallery. Expecting normal touristic crap we were deeply surprised. The show was called In search of the Miraculous, wih Jan Bas Ader, Chris Burden, Francis Alys, Guido Van der Werve, just giants. Also Max was presented in one of the videos about JanBas Aders life. Brilliant show and for the first time on our journey all the elements came together. The sea became our friend again.
We restarted the road at 4.30 A.M.
Fowey to Penzance
36 miles, easy 10 hours. And the Lizard Point. 55 miles. 16 hours.
Every day until now something bad happened on the road, so this day started as a total surprise. No wind, sea like oil. We were doing 5 miles per hour. Sun. The first time I could do also something else on the boat, not only nervously sit on the back and try to fix the boat and her problems. It felt like the wind is whispering the felling of freedom again. The smile on our faces lasted for some time, for first 30 miles which we did in six hours.
On our right was Lizards point. The most beautiful scenery that i have ever seen in my life. High grey cliffs touching the open sea. Couple of mansions above them. The sea gives you a morning kiss and you can set your fishing hooks directly from you bedroom window. Absolutely beautiful.
Calm sea changed into a hell-ride in a second. Currants from all the sides and high waves. You could feel it on the ruder, you could feel it trough all the hull. The lizard wrapped his tongue around us and did not let us go for five hours.
There was no wind so we could not use the sails and because of the waves the motor stopped working again. There came a moment of screaming, there came a moment of sadness and there came a moment of things being thrown overboard.
Being close to the land, even-tough you are trapped in between the waves gives you a positive feeling. You are just mad but not scared. Loud screaming and coursing helps a lot.
We have covered the head of the motor with a bucket and prevented it from the water. We were moving again. With deep night we have reached Penzance. The historical city of Pirates and fisherman. We cut the tongue of the Lizard.
The shower in Newlynn marina/fisherman harbor is a story of itself. Hidden blue door at the end of the fish market, where you have to lock yourself inside not to be raped.(the words of the marina watcher). Where you trow one pound coin for ten minutes of hot water and after the shower spend at least ten minutes to clean the pubic hair from the former users of the shower from your feet.
Plymouth to Fowey
It is already five days that we are stuck in plymouth's dock where our time is limited to fix the damages of our crossing of the Channel. We want to install the electricity, seal the linking roof, buy the demolished equipment and some important missing gears.
The weather forecast finally suggest a profitable window and we are exited to finally hit the road again. The sound of Plymouth and its big breaking waves on its entrance have passed, so here we are, heading to Falmouth, our next destination. 40 nautical miles, with the 10 to 15 knots wind expected we can do in 10 hours. Like this we will be there for the aperitif. This fantasy had quickly hit the reality of the sea. After couple of miles the wind and waves started to raise, again. Not as forecasted, as strong and unchangeable as we have already experienced, we have no more choices than to escape to nearest shelter. After a long standoff we finally reached the mouth of Fowey, completely wet, exhausted and stunned by the violence of this sea.
We began to recognize that our boat is absolutely not adapted to this powerful and capricious sea. Nevertheless we understand more and more our limits and those of the vessel, she gives us sometimes the feeling of not wanting to sail. She let us know that through the laws of the half an hour : every half an hour something bad happens, if not, something really bad will happen soon. Every days we face emergency situations, it's always a matter of using the rockets or the life raft. It's not tomorrow that we will stop shitting blood.
The scenic beauty of this seaside village does not keep us awake, we swallow the pre prepared soup and we crush us in our moisty sleeping bags at 20h30.
Tomorrow we will finish our planed road.
Noches De Luz
We set sails alone for the first time in Lezardrieux, France at 10 a.m. heading towards Plymouth, England. The weather forecast was good, 10 to maximum 15 knots of South wind. Our 1941, single masted, naked wooden boat called Soutien De Famille- Bear Winner was calling for adventures. In front of us there was 120 miles of open sea.
Nothingness. Open horizon with no boats, clear sky. Big plates of dark blue-green water were doing their lazy, long moves. We kept the sail just for stability. The motor, Mercury 4 stroke, 5 HP, positioned on the left side of the hull was doing mostly all the job of nice 4-4.5 miles per hour. First 20 miles was calm. The motor was working good, the sail catching just enough of wind. Little birds that i have never seen before, were gliding next to us and diving head-front in to water to catch their meals. Two big mackerels were our first guests onboard.
As the night started to arrive around 8 p.m. the waves and the wind rose. Boat started to lean and motor was grabbing the air. Loud sound of propeller, grasping for water was fulfilling the calmness and emptiness of the night. First storm got us unprepared. Already completely wet i was holding the rudder with one hand and grabbing the hull of the boat with the other hand. Keeping the tension in the body made me a little bit warmer. Little green and red lights appeared on the horizon – cargo boat Highway.
On the open sea you can only rely on the compass, in the night with no stars nothing else shows you your direction. My head lamp was all the time directed on it, flashing just for little moments towards the sea to observe the cargo traffic. Rain and wind continued even stronger and we were crashing wave after wave. BAM-SPLASH, BAM-SPLASH, BAM – SPLASH. Old wooden hull was moaning and shaking with every hit. In one moment we heard a big splash, the wind pulled of the radar reflector. It joined the mast lamp that was gone already one hour ago.
Around midnight we have entered the second cargo lines. With no signalization onboard, freezing and completely soaked. One hour later also the motor stopped, the waves covered him. Little lights became bigger. It seemed like Las Vegas, green, yellow and red, everywhere. In the night you do not see the shape but you can hear and feel the danger that is coming towards you. We threw the floating anchor in the water. The current was still pushing us forward between 1-2 miles and it was still possible to control the boat a little bit.
Waterproof VHF station broke. No one was making panic. Hardly speaking at all we sat together on the deck, covered with the spare sail and a little oil lamp next to our feet. Waves started to be so big that they were covering the boat from above and the wind raised to 30 knots.
Three hours to sunrise. Hopeless. Closing my eyes took me to dream land. Images of the loved ones brought warmth and light. I have never made so many promises as i did in this night. When I opened my eyes there was a strong light in front of me, i thought that it was daylight but it was just a reflection of my head lamp facing the cabin wall. Big splash of salty water slapped me in face.
Still 2 hours 45 until sunrise. My memory of the night ends somewhere here. Next thing I remember was daylight, coolness, the smell of pee all around me and Max's voice telling me that we should set sails again and try to escape like that. We did it and it worked. 3 miles per hour felt like a speed boat. At 10 p.m. we have landed on the english coast. Plymouth seemed like heaven.
Trebeurden to Lezardrieux
7 a.m., sharp as the sunset, Hervé arrives to our boat. Shorts, skipper jacket and a pair of slippers under the arm. Here is Hervé, our accompanist on this first sail of Soutien de Famille.
Immediately on board Hervé takes the router, cut the ropes and set sails to Paimpol. He knows the place inside out, it's his district he said. All the boats quitting the small Trebeurden harbor with us use the same road, not us. Hervé decides to follow a shortcut between the reefs. With a firm step we advance to our goal : the vein of the English channel and it tide streams. If we were not stuck in a sand band for 15 minutes, our lead on the rest of the pack would be more than 2 hours. The vein that Soutien de Famille reached is flirting with the 8 nautical knots, unreal.
After some mackerel were cought, small touristic tour done, Hervé request a stop at Lezardrieux before our final destination. He argues that the harbour at Lezandrieux is open 24/7, no entrance at Paimpol and all in all, Paimpol is not that cool. As quickly as we arrived, Hervé disappeared to bistro table.
His curiosity to test the boat has allowed us to experience a first test with her. We are not yet confident or even aware of the boat limits but we feel good. We managed to quit Trebeurden and its endless days and nights of catching up the delay accumulated by the shipyard.
Paris to Trebeurden
Toulon, my 2 weeks of holidays and my family are already far away when I wake up in the train to paris. If it does not continue to be delayed I will join Mark and Lucia for lunch. Once reunited we hasten to organize our baggage. Our train to trebeurden is next morning which leaves us only a few hours to compile our equipment. Head lamps, crawbars, hamers, working gloves, it's hard to imagine that this are the things that we are taking along to our trip to Scotland.
Already in the rush since the first minute, we head towards Trebeurden and Jean Marc Batard -the carpenter in charge of the decontamination and preparation of the boat. On the way between the station and the shipyard we already understand that our project took considerable delay, no matter we will double our strength to keep the deadline.
We camp on the job-site of the shipyard, working days and nights. Every purchase require a walk of several kilometers to reach the town and shops. We tried hitchhiking without success until -on our everyday route to Intermarche- Mark stops a car with the strength of his thumb. It's Claire, she ´s nice. She smiles and She is interested in us, funny trio. We explain her why we are here. She tells us that her boyfriend is a skipper. She'll tell him about our project and takes my phone number. Evening comes and my telephone rings. It's Claire and Hervé, the boyfriend/skipper. They hit the road to join us with a bottle of rosé.
Around the boat Hervé starts to express his concerns and give us tips.It's the first time that someone helps us without telling us that it's a suicide or that it's stupid and nonsense. We drink his words and take a note of any of his advices. Of course there is a gap between us, he has professional sailor experience. We appreciate each other and we cling to his interest. At the point where everyone is trying to discourage us, this meeting is whey.
We saw Claire and Hervé all the other days, their benevolence contrast with the deleterious atmosphere rising on the shipyard and its progress. Gradually Hervé got involved in the progress of the project, carting around his good humor an sharing his experience.
After almost a week of nonstop work the boat is in the water. We have spent our first night in her hull with just one day of delay in our program.
Step one : checked.
Newlyn to St Ives-Contrasted Feelings
When the clock rang at 4 am i wasn't sure if we will be able to be at 8:27 by Land's end to use the tides flow and cross this legendary point.
The trip was planned after the local lifeguards and sailors advices about how not to live the same experience that we had to go through with the Lizard point.
We usually quit harbors with sun light due to our signalization lights ding one after another. Life expectancy of objects is short on our boat.
Just the time to wear almost everything: sweat pants, waterproof pants#1, waterproof pants#2, knee pads, sweat hoody, flees jacket, waterproof jacket, waterproof boots, headlight, lifejacket, lifeline, almost can't move.
First 15 miles with the moon opening our road and the sun in the back. Freddie ( the name of our Mercury engine) works perfect.Sails on.
When we finally reached the Land's end we understood what the locals call "boiling pot". English channel, Celtic sea and Irish Sea meet here, add huge tides coefficient and you have it. Currents manhandle the hull so strong that we felt cracking and twisting. As always we had no strategy, just some tips from fishermen and we just undergo. The swell expelled us immediately 2 miles from our position. We had to try again, as always. Only two hours, three hours less than we needed to pass the Lizard point. We are starting to get use of this endless fights that we face with anxiety but no more fears. I don't know why because the impact on us is the same, always.
We finished our road until St Ives through periods of chaos and period of calmness, long enough to pump out the 100 liters of water inside the hull. With no particular feelings, exhausted as usual, wet and frozen as always.
During this trip we saw 3 boats, no longer than 4 meters, alone, wearing t-shirt, outside engines not lot bigger than ours. Fishermen from Penzance raising their crab traps like everyday. I know they where from Penzance because they quit the harbor at the same time as us.
We are probably going to aper as morons with our equipment and fighting their everyday playground, limiting our horizon to the next wave.
Waiting for the water to fulfill the dry dock, Freddie died. Mark asked a guy on a super-speed-2 times 225 horses power engine-zodiac to drag us to the dock. What he did, has been really nice. Once moored we asked him if he knows someone to repair Freddy. He said he will do it. He started to disassemble Freddie's starter and took it with him telling us that he will fix it tonight and reassemble againn tomorrow morning. We don't know his name, no contacts, no ideas of who he is.
During the evening searching the holy grail wifi, we landed in a tea house. Speaking to the crew we understood that everyone knows him. He is Butch, he helps everyone in this small town. Fixing boats and everything else that needs to be fixed.
In the morning Butch arrived and fixed the engine. He didn't want the money we offered to him. The rest of the day we were observing him coming and going around the harbor. On boat when the water is was there, in a Range Rover when the dock was dry. This is his corner. The St Ives harbor, town and bay belongs to Butch, he is the ranger, generous and solidary with his people.
Futex time in St Ives
Futex time in St Ives
Second night on the dry dock harbor of st Ives. Every tide is like a washing machine cycle, the boat pitch back and forth for a wile before having a nice moment of stability.
Putting the boat on her legs allow us to check the state of the hull. More and more water gets inside and we need to know why.
The sun and North wind are with us, and we are ready for a deep inspection of our vessel. We have found many more leaking points than other usual caulking leaking.
This leaks probably come from the violent movement of the hull on the lasts navigations. We heard the mast taping and pounding the keel and all structure cracking during some past fight with the heavy local sea.
Also the fragility of the hanger points of sailing in the back have pain to handle with the violent jolts on the rear panel when the wind blows in the sail. Another task done in the rush just moments before our departure.
We have only used Futex to seal the wood, this product is usually used for barrels. It's natural and compatible with food use. It's viscous and fatty, looks like a brown dough. We spend all the tide time to fix the hull as much as we could, only stopping when someone curious enough to speak to us.
St Ives is a busy place with flows of tourist walking up and down the promenade surrounding the harbor. Sometimes with a melting ice cream in the hand, sometimes fluting from a fancy creators boutiques to a redneck "entertainment center". We are the only pleasure boat on the dry dock so everyone sees us. We had the visit of John, among many others local old rigs lovers, that explained us in details and in French his first trip to Brittany on a sailing lobster boat when he was 15 and his passion for wooden boats.
Sometimes we want to escape from the same chats and discussions about the same topics about going to scotland and transform the hull into barrels. However we understood that our project was really followed by locals, and people already heard about what we are trying to do.
So it is with pleasure that we jumped in our boat when the sea returned to invade the harbor. Alone on our island, covered with that horrible Futex, we were finally isolated.