Falmouth is a port steeped in maritime history, the docks having been developed in the early 17th century. By 1688 the town became the Royal Mail packet station, a hub for sailing ships carrying parcels and letters all around the world. Since then, the estuary has been alive with activity, with commercial shipping, fishing fleets and pleasure boats.
Mascotte’s primary skipper, Adam, grew up near by, he has been a local Oysterman, see more below, he has a font of local knowledge about Falmouth, traditional ships and fishing methods.
This all makes Falmouth the ideal place to go for a day’s sailing aboard a vessel with its own historical pedigree. Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter ‘Mascotte’, launched in 1904, spent the first chapter of her working life transporting pilots to large cargo ships, helping them navigate safely into harbour.
Although her primary stomping ground was the Bristol Channel, Mascotte was in the class of ‘Western Going’ pilots, ranging to Land’s End and beyond, earning their pick of the trade (and the most valuable contracts). Mascotte would have sailed along the Cornish Coast on many occasion, after a tip off from an agent about a particularly choice ship heading for the Bristol Channel. She once sailed as far as the Isle of Wight to pick up a fare bound for Newport, leaving the ‘Crack of Dawn Boys’ back at home in Barry to pick up the less profitable pilotage jobs.
Sailing aboard for the day in Falmouth needn’t be so competitive! The team on Mascotte love to teach and get everyone involved, working as ‘crew for the day’. Opportunities for helming, setting sails, practicing your knots and hauling lines will be plentiful, as will time to relax and enjoy the stunning Cornish scenery.
The Fal estuary has endless options for exploration, which allows the Skipper to make the most of the conditions and wind direction on any given day. You might find yourself upriver, where natural woodland grows right down to the water’s edge and wading birds abound. If the wind is offshore, you may instead set sail into deep water, passing Pendennis Castle and reaching across the bay towards the Helford River and Nare Head, or East past St Anthony.
Sailing in high summer brings the possibility of basking sharks, dolphins and porpoises, but there is something to excite in all seasons. The local seals have their pups in autumn, and are often seen on Black Rock or by St Anthony Lighthouse.
From the 1st October there’s chance to see the Oystermen out fishing and Adam your skipper will point out what is going on. The oyster beds in Falmouth are protected by byelaws dating back to the late 1800s, prohibiting the use of engines when dredging. A little fleet of Falmouth Working Boats can often be seen behaving strangely, appearing from a distance to sail badly, sideways, while hauling their catch.
You could sail every day of the season from Falmouth and find somewhere new to explore, and something different to see!All Mascotte’s Day Sails