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Gaff Rig Sailing in Fowey:
on a Clovelly Picarooner

For sailing, leisure and navigational information about the Harbour, see the Fowey Harbour Commissioners website.

Fowey harbour is the perfect location for sailing! With a small boat, in this case a traditional 16ft gaff rigged dayboat called "Winnow" a Clovelly Picarooner, you can reach those parts that no other sailing boat can reach... well, at least any boat that isn't a versatile big little dayboat like a Picarooner! There is sailing in the beautiful harbour itself, sailing up the river (even up to Lostwithiel past the salt marshes more reminiscent of the Norfolk Broads!), and then of course there is the best, out of the harbour to the open sea and adventure!

In August 2010, Winnow (CP42) and sister Picarooner "Crinker" (CP55) both attended the Fowey Regatta, and the following film was taken by Tony Nelson in Crinker. The weather was perfect Picarooner sailing weather, with the wind gusting from the North West at up to 20knots. Thank you for the photography Tony!

See Picarooners "Winnow" CP42 and "Crinker" CP55 on Vimeo, taken by CrinkerCP55

Picarooners are a delight to sail, are very easy to handle, family-friendly, and of course come with the delights of playing with the traditional Gaff sailing rig - a four-sided sail with boom and gaff spars, rather than the usual more modern three-sided "leg-o'-mutton" Bermudan sailing rig. Clovelly Picarooners are built by Gaffers & Luggers of Mylor near Falmouth, using a mould taken from an old wooden boat. Picarooners were originally small fishing luggers based in Clovelly, with a shallow draft allowing for easier launching and return over the bar, to bring the herrings (or "silver darlings") back to market more quickly than the larger boats - thus getting their nick-name from "Picaroon", derived from the Spanish for "sea pirate". After the sad passing of Martin Heard who built these boats at the Tregatreath Yacht Yard, Martin's son Sam Heard now continues to build Picarooners at a new boatyard in Mylor Bridge.

Winnow sailing off Fowey Harbour
Winnow sailing off Fowey Harbour (photo T.Nelson)

Crinker sailing off Fowey
Crinker off Fowey

As can be seen, Picarooners are great for self-sailing with no hands on the tiller! They're also very good boats for steering using the sails alone, without using the tiller at all, using balance in the boat, and using the main and jib sails to steer on and off the wind and even tack if you get good at it! Still good to have a tiller though.

Sailing in Fowey harbour can be summed up no more succinctly than by the words of Arthur Quiller-Couch...

Oh the harbour of Fowey
is a beautiful spot
and it's there I enjowey
to sail in a yot;
Or to race in a yacht
round a mark or a buoy -
such a beautiful spacht
is the harbour of Fuoy!

Winnow sailing in Fowey Harbour
Winnow sailing in Fowey Harbour

If the weather is not so clement, or for a little exploration on a sunny day, why not try up-river? The River Fowey is navigable on the high tide up as far as Lostwithiel (or indeed the Lerryn River to Lerryn)...

Winnow at Lostwithiel
The old quay at Lostwithiel, in Coulson Park at the end of Quay Street

Winnow returning from Lostwithiel towards St Winnow
Returning from Lostwithiel, back down-river past Milltown Creek towards St Winnow

On the upper reaches of the tidal river between Lostwithiel and the village of Golant, lies the peaceful and picturesque waterside setting of St Winnow's Church and the small hamlet of St Winnow. This is Winnow's name-sake; the place that she was named after, and a necessary pilgrimage every once in a while!

Winnow at St Winnow
Winnow on pilgrimage to her name-sake St Winnow on the River Fowey
(famed for having sorted the wheat from the chaff!)

From Golant down to Wiseman's Reach
Heading back down towards the moorings in Wiseman's Reach and the China Clay berths

But the liveliest sailing is out at sea. Not in Force 6 perhaps, but whenever there is a good sailing wind, or for a good sailing challenge, when there's not! The coast has many destinations to try hereabouts, whether locally to sandy Lantic Bay, round Gribbin Head to Polkerris, along the coast to Polperro, or just out to sea...

Winnow leaving harbour
Winnow leaving Fowey on an overcast day

A great sail 2
...where it can be a little up and down, with just the horizon for company!

A great sail 1

Fowey harbour offers a safe haven, that has given protection to sailors for hundreds of years, and never fails to give pleasure even when returning through the harbour entrance from just a day-sail. Punches Cross... past St Catherine's Castle... past the Polruan Blockhouse where the chain across the harbour entrance was raised against French raiders and pirates during the 1400s (and sometimes against the local "Fowey Gallants", who were after sailing out to take revenge during intervals of apparent peace!), and on into the harbour itself...

Winnow returning to Fowey
Winnow on a sunnier day gently rolling along, returning to Fowey harbour entrance

~

But for Crinker and Winnow? Crinker returned home to her own home port of Polperro after her visit to Fowey, and Winnow returned to her home at Penmarlam Boatyard just up-river from Bodinnick.

Crinker sailing
Crinker sailing in the late afternoon with the Dodman in the backgound

Winnow and Phoenix
Winnow sailing past the "Phoenix" - a two-masted square-rigged Brig
(also a great Square Rig Sailing ship-size experience!)

For more information about Winnow, for Picarooner owners, visit the Clovelly Picarooner "Winnow" page.
Winnow herself has now sailed off to voyages new in the Isles of Scilly ~ Happy Sailing!

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