As we tie the dinghy to the pontoon, we notice a camera team filming. Surprised that they had found us as we had tried to keep our arrival in Fowey indiscreet, it slowly dawns on us that it is not us they are filming, but someone else. The two subjects are instantly recognisable – broadcasters Michael Buerk and John Sergeant. We learn from talking to one of the camera team that they are filming a new Channel 5 travel programme on sailing around Britain in a beautifully restored wooden cutter called Bonaventura, also tied up to the same pontoon. They too are heading up to Scotland, so we might see them again. It seems that the programme will be shown later this year; we make a mental note to watch it if we can.
We had arrived the day before late in the evening and had had to raft up as there were no visitor buoys left nor places on the mid-river pontoons. We had found another boat around the same size as us, Smudgley, and had tied up to her, trying not to disturb her occupants who were in the middle of their dinner. We had then pumped up the inflatable dinghy for the first time in the trip so that we could get ashore.
We edge past the camera crew, and walk up to the town. Fowey (pronounced ‘Foy’) is a picturesque little place, a little like Dartmouth in that there is a matching town across the other side of the river, Polruan in this case. First stop is the Fowey Gallants Yacht Club for showers, which we learn later is named after a group of privateers who were given licenses to attack French ships during the Hundred Years War in the 1300s, and later defended the town against the Dutch. Swashbuckling times! Unfortunately we discover that two of the showers have been recently vandalised. We find it difficult to believe that this can happen in such a beautiful spot – who would do such a thing? We hope that it wasn’t fellow visiting yachtspersons.
The town is also a deep water port important for shipping out china clay from Cornwall, and we are astounded (and somewhat nervous) to see huge ships wending their way through the hordes of little boats and yachts in the small harbour. Sometimes they even use the harbour area to turn around before being towed backwards up the river to the wharves where they load the clay. We are amazed that there are no accidents, but it all seems to work as it should.
We visit the small museum in the middle of the town. Much of it is dedicated to two famous writers from the area – Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and Daphne du Maurier. Neither of these have I read, and later I buy Rebecca from a second-hand bookshop to fill the gap.
Adrian and Helen arrive on the last bus in the evening. The plan is that they sail with us down to Falmouth and catch the train back from there to Exmouth where they live. After dinner, we lift and tie the dinghy on to the back of Ruby Tuesday so that we are not pulling it through the water, and in doing so, I lose my glasses over the side. I have no spares. As they sink slowly into the depths, I consider diving in after them, but there are too many things in the way and I decide that further injury is not desirable. It is 10 m deep here, and we wonder if they might be found with a mask and snorkel, but as the water is pretty murky, we reluctantly abandon them to their fate. I will have to manage without them somehow. Such are the risks of boat life!
That evening, I turn on the radar instead of the fridge. I should have gone to Specsavers. At least we can see where our neighbours are, even if we can’t offer then a cold drink.