Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"Let's hire a boat, what could possibly go wrong?"

Last Thursday, whilst on holiday in Cornwall, I decided to hire a boat. I'd actually had it in my mind for a while that I was going to hire one for the entire week and footle up and down the river to my heart's content.

However, upon arriving at the cottage we'd hired for the week in Mylor Harbour (near Falmouth)
it was immediately apparent that this wasn't a great idea since the little quay at the bottom of the garden was subject to a tidal river and not a normal river, so for about half of the time any boat would be high and dry when the tide was out. The house owners had provided a small rowing boat, but I didn't fancy that in what seemed fairly strong currents - and I certainly didn't fancy drifting out into the Fal estuary and being gobbled up by some of the huge ships plying their trade there - Falmouth is the 3rd largest natural harbour in the world and as a result, there's a fair old size in terms of shipping traffic.

The weather had been on the cool side for the start of the week, but on Thursday it was really "cracking the flags" - hot sunshine, few clouds - the ideal opportunity to hire a boat and go up the river with the kids and Simon, a daft-as-a-brush postman pal (who was also down there with his family). This was after 3 bottles of Rioja we'd shared the night before, declaring "let's hire a boat, what could possibly go wrong?" the phrase brought up because I'd taken them on a wild goose chase earlier in the day and traumatised the kids by taking them to the worst low-rent "theme park" there possibly is. (But that's another story)

I'd not booked the boat itself so I was quite surprised when we got one only because someone had cancelled just 10 minutes earlier. Great, our luck was in.

So with our wive's hearts in their mouths, we strapped life jackets to the 3 boys, Jack, Harry and Arran and boarded our boat in Mylor Harbour. The wives and Natasha, Simon's daughter, left for the shops & boutiques of Falmouth, intent on a relaxing day's shopping - which suited all parties.

It didn't take too long to get the boat into shape, it was a pretty simple 6-berth boat, with a little white cabin for shelter at the front and the steering-thingy at the back, next to the outboard motor. It couldn't do anything outlandish in the speed stakes, but it was a glorious day and it was a leisurely cruise, the scenery was sublime too - it really is a beautiful part of the world.

Anyway, our plan was to cruise up to the Smuggler's Cottage - a restaurant/bar that's quite off the beaten track, some half-way up the Fal river system. This cottage was home to some of the USA D-Day landing teams and indeed, is apparently where Eisenhower was based for a time. They serve the usual cornish fayre as well as beer and all that stuff - perfect, we thought.

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