Bioluminescence On The Helford River

Log – 21st May to 24th May 2017

Over the past week we had various visitors on Kittiwake. First, my parents (Elena’s) came all  the way from Italy to check out our boat and make sure we could, in fact, sail. They stayed for four days and spoiled us with presents and meals out. In return, we cooked for them and took them on a cold afternoon sail. Despite the very British weather, we had a great time and they loved Kittiwake.

Next we had Ryan’s brother and his wife over – Dan and Stef – from London. They picked our beloved car Jimi Hendrix up and we took them out for a nice afternoon sail. Finally, Ry’s friend Gareth came for a quick day visit with his girlfriend Carla and his two lovely dogs. We took them to a beautiful little cove nearby called Cellar Bay, near St Mawes. We had lunch on the calm water, surrounded by forest.

After the last of our guests were gone we were left with a sense that adventure was really beginning, so we slipped our mooring ball in Falmouth and set off for new shores.

We sailed away in the sun, towards Flushing Cove – just half a day away. The objective was to get closer to the Scilly Isles, our next destination. We had a lovely sail, during which our original 1977 autopilot broke, the first time we used it. And guess what? We can’t get it fixed. So there goes our autopilot…

Once we got to Flushing Cove, we tried anchoring, but the anchor wouldn’t bite. After about fifteen attempts in different areas of the cove, Ryan dived in to check the seabed and found out it was all seaweed and stones! Rubbish for anchoring. So with our tail between our legs, we went around the corner to the Helford River and chose an anchorage near the mouth of the river. This time, it was an anchorage recommended in the Almanac (a kind of boating guidebook) and the anchor bit first time.

Half way through the night, we heard something rattling at the back of the boat that turned out to just be the dinghy rubbing against the boat. But when Ryan went out to check what it was he realised there was bioluminescence in the water! This beautiful and rare (or so we thought) phenomenon is plankton lighting up when it touches things in the water. He called me out and we spent a good fifteen minutes throwing in a bucket and splashing around with the boat hook to trigger the plankton to light up. It was incredible. It was hard to fall back asleep. Sadly, our camera equipment is nowhere near high tech enough to capture such low light.

The next day we realised the winds weren’t going to help us reach the Scillies by day sails, so we planned a longer passage sailing straight there. In the afternoon we worked on freelance work and our homemade wind vane prototype.  Around 6pm, we decided we had cabin fever and went to shore to explore the beach by which we were anchored. It was incredible! The water was green and transparent and the vegetation was so lush we thought we just entered Jurassic Park. On the way back to the boat we saw some dolphins or porpoises in the horizon, in Falmouth Bay.

Later, after dinner, we checked for bioluminescence and there it was again! We jumped in the dinghy for a night time bioluminescent paddle. It was magical. We left a stream of green light and flashes as we rowed in the perfectly still black water.

Today we woke up to a mild cloudy day, which turned really sunny and warm. We prepped for our passage and even managed to put up the hammock and relax for an hour or so. Now we’re just waiting for the sunset, ready to set sail for the Scilly Isles. We plan to leave around 10pm, hoping to leave a big stream of bioluminescence behind us.

  • Battista

    Seguo con molto interesse il vostro diario di bordo, il traduttore di Google mi aiuta, visto che la conoscenza dell’inglese lascia molto a desiderare. Buona continuazione e buon vento! Battista.

    1. Sailing Kittiwake

      Grazie mille Battista! Mi fa piacere che Google Translate aiuti in qualche modo. Sto cercando di scrivere qualche articolo in italiano qui e là su altri siti per voi italiani 🙂

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