Maggoty bank

Autumn cruise, post 8

Maggoty bank.

Seriously, that’s what it’s called : the mud bank just upriver of where i’m anchored right now aboard WABI’’’.

It’s the last day of September and 3 weeks into my autumn cruise which is working out to be nothing at all like our summer cruise…different country to start with and this is the west country at it’s wettest and windiest. I haven’t had the sails up for the last 5 days since i sailed up the river on a gentle south-westerly and flooding tide that took me from Falmouth harbour to Turnaware point, past the King Harry ferry and into the entrance of Ruan creek. Right now WABI’’’ is solidly aground in the entrance to Church creek , just downstream of the aforementioned ‘Maggoty bank’ and the small village of Malpas.

I quite like noting and collecting odd place names of features that i sail past : not so much names of places, although there is a place called ‘Place’ a few miles downriver, rather the features i am thinking of are mud banks like the one in Brittany called the ‘banc du Bindy’ and rocks such as the ‘bitches’ and the ‘manacles’. The bank of Bindy probably wouldn’t mean very much to anyone who isn’t a Terry Pratchett fan….’Bindy’ in his books being the name of Death’s horse.

I left Ruan creek on the tide yesterday evening because there was a forecast strong southerly with a hint of south-easterly and that would have made my little corner a dead lee shore on a high spring tide, if the boat swung onto the bank there we could have been ‘neaped’ ie stuck there so although i conscientiously set up my Bahamian moor for a tide i then decided to leave the creek completely and have a go at getting upriver all the way to Truro and sit out the next spell of heavy weather up there. The second reason i left Ruan creek was due to the same potential problem we have in the Tamar during spring tides and heavy rain…and that is tree sized debris being swept down the river. At home i live quite near a steep section of the river upstream of the tidal weir and upstream of me is an almost gorge-like section with very large trees overhanging the river. In heavy rain and high flow some of those trees fall into the river every year and then get swept downstream, often a whole load of them together. One of my friends who lives downstream goes up with his workboat, tows them ashore and cuts them up for firewood.


I don’t know how much of a river there is at the head of Ruan creek, the valley doesn’t look anything like the Tamar and the main drainage is into the Truro river….my anchoring section of the creek is heavy with trees though and there are a lot of big fallen ones on the banks…that would be great if i was playing at bushcraft or had a woodburner as there is tons of good looking firewood for the taking. Funnily enough we were in the Helford river a couple of weeks back and passed a very salty and seamanlike double ender in the river and it’s owner was on the bank cutting into a big fallen oak branch with his bow saw.

So anyway, late yesterday afternoon i left the shelter of Ruan creek and had a hard motor into a stiff westerly wind that headed me at every turn in the river although i did have the last of the flood to carry me up towards the lighterage quay just downriver of Truro itself. At one end of that quay i there is a big shed and what looks like a wooden pilot boat being built…..that must be Luke Powell’s yard….builder of the Scillonian pilot cutters ‘Agnes’ and ‘Amelie Rose’ amongst others. Just upstream of that there was what looked like a Rhine/Danube barge alongside the lighterage quay : looked like a scrap metal carrier. What i couldn’t see until i got right up to the barge was that the tidal barrier across the river was completely closed, red lights flashing, and unlike Chateaulin there isn’t a lock through into the upper section of the river. Just before dark last night and just before the temperature really dropped i crossed ‘Maggoty bank’ and anchored in the entrance to Church creek , high and dry now……aside from the contnuous rain today…..Autumn cruising eh !


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