Padstow

by Jax on August 2, 2013

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Wherever else we ended up this summer there were 2 destinations that were non-negotiable – as in, if the conditions weren’t right, we’d just have to wait until they were – fortunately the weather played ball. The first of those places was Padstow. The geek had always wanted to sail to Padstow and to dry out on the very tempting sandbank right in front of the harbour entrance (exhibitionist!). Padstow also proved a very good stopping point on our journey north – having rounded Land’s End from Mounts Bay with a favourable tide we were able to arrive the same day. When we left it was a day’s hop to Lundy and then on to South Wales.

DSC00333Something wrong with this picture: The geek takes a stroll around the boat.

The harbourmaster was accommodating and helpful, saving a space for us, taking our lines and loaning us fender boards (planks). During the 10 days that Vagaris resided in Padstow the number of other visiting boats varied from a handful to a considerable amount. It’s amazing how many vessels can squeeze into a harbour. At one point there were 3 on our raft and 5 on a raft nearby (best to have a mat, when it rains your decks get very messy with all those hoofs traipsing across). The navy and some fishing vessels popped in and just when it was really busy a 70foot yacht came along, but everybody managed to get in tetris style.

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We did see one boat (deep keel) who had to spend the night in the estuary because he got his calculations wrong. Fortunately for them, it was very calm that night.

Whilst it was interesting to visit Padstow by boat, there is little peace and quiet on the harbour wall. Every day, grey or shine, brings scores of families ‘crabbing’ and the accompanying dialogue can make it feel a bit like groundhog day.

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The gates open 2 hours either side of high water (unless there’s a very high spring as we experienced when they will be closed to stop you washing over the wall!) so most of the day is spent a good couple of metres below the wall which can emphasise the feeling of being in a goldfish bowl. A lot of tourists don’t seem to remember to take their rubbish with them and it ends up in the harbour. Harbour staff do their best to keep up with the detritus, but obviously they can’t get close in around all of the boats. The seagulls are a nuisance, scavenging and squawking, and constantly shitting over your boat and leaving other deposits. And there is no escape from the all prevasive scent of fish and chips.

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The call: ‘Anyone for a speed boat ride!’ and the accompanying revving of engines ring out around the harbour about a 100 times a day. But it seems to work, the queues for boat trips are long and people of the geek’s age remember the boats from when they were kids, so it’s good that small business is thriving, but it is quieter when the tide is out and they operate from outside the harbour.

Would I recommend Padstow as a place to visit? If you’re looking for peace and quiet, probably not, but as an entertaining stop with plenty of yummy seafood and ice cream (not to mention the pasties) to be had, or a useful welcoming refuge for a night or two, definitely. Just remember to check your lines (and electricity cable!) before you leave for the remnants of crabbing lines and bait hooks or you might be taking away a souvenir of Padstow you could have lived without!

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