Passage 36, Milford Haven to Newlyn

My longest passage of the venture, 116 miles in 26.5 hours. I expected to motor most of it as the forecast was for very little winds. That followed by south-westerlies against which it be would be difficult (once more) to make progress down to Land’s End. So I had to take my opportunity and decided to use the motor and any winds I had to make a break all the way round Land’s End into Newlyn on the south coast of Cornwall.

I set off at 9am in good weather and motored for 7 hours and got 35 miles under my belt. I had a target to get to Cornwall on the north side by 6am Saturday. That gave me a requirement to maintain an average speed of 4.3 knots. After motoring the 7 hours I’d brought that requirement down to 4 knots. Basically upping the chance to sail.

Motoring was not all doom and gloom. For starters the sun was out and by midday it was warm enough for shorts. For seconders I got several dolphins swimming with me on quite a few occasions. What gorgeous animals they are. Because the water was quite calm I could clearly see them under the water. Literally inches away from the bow of my boat. Popping up for a little jump every so often. It all looked so effortless and they never actually touching the boat at all. I sang to them thinking they might detect a friendly human presence. I seriously doubt they did and, to be honest, I wasn’t in my most melodious of voices. I reached down with my hand over the bow hoping that one would jump just where my hand was. It didn’t take long for one of them to oblige and I felt it’s glossy dorsal fin.

Once the motor was off I glided along at a stately 3 knots. Over the next hour or two the wind gradually increased (from behind me) so that I ended up doing 5 knots. All told, I was able to sail for the next 15 hours at between 3 and 5 knots to deliver my average requirement to reach Cornwall by 6am. Sailed all through the night, in other words. I got yet another visit from a different pod of dolphins (they were bigger) while I was sailing. Frankly, I lost count of my dolphin sightings but I did not become complacent. Every time they came to play was a thrill.

I had to use the motor all the way round Land’s End. Despite the all-nighter, I needed full concentration for this. I had to wend my way close to the shore in order to avoid the worst of the tides against me (and even pick up some contra-flow). That means not bumping into any hard bits. Close in shore is where all the lobster pot buoys were, of course. There was a full turn out. And some were very well disguised. I was in a state of high alert for this bit to motoring. But once I was firmly in Southern territory and in more navigable waters I had enough wind for a gentle sail towards my destination, Newlyn. No sooner had I turned the engine off when two or three dolphins briefly danced for me as if to celebrate my South Coast arrival.

Picturesque Newlyn is not. But I liked it because it has a certain honest, earthy brusqueness to it. A quality that was shared with the Harbour Master who told me in no uncertain terms that where I parked was for bigger boats and I belonged over there, so move it. All this is mainly on account of the harbour which is a proper fishermen’s working harbour and only caters for a few prissy yachts like mine out of tolerance and common decency. A couple of miles down the coast (I’d got the bike out for a quick look around) and you get more of the expected genre of holiday cornwall village; a place called Mousehole. No ugly fishing vessels there and full of tourists and pretty cottages and nice places to eat. I preferred Newlyn which is where I bought my fish and chips as a little treat for getting this far.

I’d taken a quick nap in the afternoon sun but I think I’ll sleep well tonight.


Biggest passage of the venture with very light winds, but still managed to sail more than I motored. Lovely hot, sunny weather. Lots of dolphins. 116 miles in 26.5 hours.

Passage 37, Newlyn to Fowey