|Sat 10-07-2021, 10:00St Mawes, Cornwall||Sun 11-07-2021, 16:00St Mawes, Cornwall||Outdoor Girl||1 Nights||OG100721|
There is a whole new Cornwall to discover, if you focus close inshore. Our local skipper Debbie is always seeking gaps in the rock plateau to sail right up to the beach: Learn about tides to find back beaches that stay dry enough to camp. Without an engine we learn to trim sails to keep going in the lightest of winds, Simple pleasures topped off by cooling swims and wood fires with wine. Summer holidays need not be frantic.
Outdoor lovers and independent types who don’t yet have a boat and camping kit to do their own thing, but want a taste open boat creek hopping and close to the coast exploration. Solo travellers who want to go on a nautical wildlife ‘safari’ or try but don’t have any friends adventurous enough to try wild camping by boat without backpacks. Sailors who love the idea of messing about in sailing boats close to the shore, and all the seamanship skills that go with it. Eco warriors who care about the planet and want to minimise their carbon footprint but still see beautiful wild scenery and have thrilling experiences.
In many ways the Coronavirus lockdown in 2020 focussed our minds on what was important to us: Being close to nature and maximising our time outdoors; discovering what is on our backdoor; creating our own mini adventures, seeking the hidden places where the wildlife outnumber the humans.
This description for these winter voyages was written in July 2020. We hope by 2021 that the risk of Coronavirus will have receeded to a background level. You can read the precautions we adopted on Outdoor Girl in the summer of 2020 in the link below. The skipper will still adopt those measures if they are still appropriate.
Our mini expeditions are fundamentally an outdoor activity and the perfect way to feel relaxed about being sociable in our mini group.
COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS FOR OUTDOOR GIRL
Try a small boat adventure with Classic Sailing co-founder Debbie Purser in Cornwall. Outdoor Girl is a 17ft Spritsail yawl – an ideal rig for sailing, rowing into very tiny places and carrying tents and camping equipment. A wooden replica of the 1882 Gorran Bay crabber Ellen, Outdoor Girl is equally at home exploring an open coast as she is, gliding up wooded creeks, but this week we are taking full advantage of a full moon and really big tides to venture deep into the creeks and salt marsh of either the River Fal and its tributaries, or if the winds are more suitable, a dash to the Helford River and places less well known than Frenchmans Creek.
Outdoor Girl is a historic design based on Gorran Haven fishing boats which would venture out to sea from this tiny coastal harbour to lay crab pots off the rugged South Cornwall coast. The fishermen learned from their ancestors what weather and sea state their boats could cope with. Outdoor Girl is rugged, fast and seaworthy but she is still an open boat.
These voyages are micro adventures and the distances Outdoor Girl will sail are very small compared to some of her bigger sisters in the Classic Sailing fleet. Without an engine* the skipper always has to think about being able to reach a safe haven in daylight hours without an epic row. In order to maximise your experience of sailing and camping, we may pre position Outdoor Girl before you arrive in the best sailing ground for the wind and wave conditions (your transport to the boat from our normal rendezvous point will be organised for you, or agreed amongst us in advance). It may not exactly match the voyage description but safety and keeping guest crew active, warm and having outdoor fun is our aim on every voyage. The skipper is not trying to turn you into a Royal Marine. Cornwall has wild beauty but it is not ‘the wilderness.’ If we have to resort to a warm cafe or pub in a waterside village to escape bad weather we will.
South Cornwall is blessed with miles of drowned river valleys called rias. They typically have fishing villages or ports near the estuary mouth and quite a bit of yachting activity and moorings. Luckily the signs of human habitation disappear quite quickly as you sail further inland. In the Helford River anchoring is restricted beyond Port Navas to protect the oyster beds, which means there is an empty wild playground for a small boat without a deep keel (Outdoor Girl draws 60cm). In the upper reaches there is salt marsh and you might see otters. The stunted sessile oak trees hug the rocky shores and several stone quays can be found. In spring there are bluebells and primroses and in autumn
Inland of St Mawes Bay is the Percuil River which has moorings for a mile and then just steep farmland and woods. This is our backyard and we know several landowners.
The River Fal and its tributaries is heavily wooded with steep sides and overhanging branches. There are a few gravelly foreshores above the high water mark, with overhanging trees and a few private quays with grassy areas. Far up Ruan Creek are very shallow channels through the salt marsh that were once commercial waterways. Romans used to trade all the way to Tregony, but the furthest we can reach on a big spring tide is Ruan Lanihorne. Old lime kilns and ospreys have been sighted here and the salt marsh is a nature reserve
If you have never been to this part of Cornwall it is very different from the surf beaches on North Cornwall. The Lizard Penisula and angle of the coast protects it a bit from the Atlantic, and a series of headlands creates bays and sandy or gravel beaches. There are many caves and small islets where seals and seabirds hang out. The whole coast is part of Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural beauty and protected from development. In addition to the popular village beaches, there are many small coves backed by cliffs and gorse which are inaccessible to the public.
Outdoor Girl is typical of the beach fishing boats that used to operate under sail and oar from Porthholland, Portscatho, Portloe and Gorran Haven.
The Atlantic is so close and the English Channel is wide here in Cornwall so the acrobatic common dolphins from the ocean are as common as the coastal bottlenosed dolphins. Rarer sightings include Risso dolphins, minke whales and pilot whales.Outdoor Girl will never be offshore more than a couple of miles so marine creatures of the foreshore are more likely – Western Grey Seals are here all year round. Ocean birds like guillimot, shearwaters and razorbill breed in the cliffs. On the beaches turnstones, oystercatchers and curlew are likely to greet you when you emerge from your tent. There is edible seaweed, samphire, wild garlic and mussels to pick for the pot. Ravens, Peregrin falcons, buzzards, great blackbacks, herring gulls and gannets rule the skies.
Up the creeks you can hear owls and foxes at night and many waders and wildfowl can be spotted on the muddy banks. Otters and Ospreys have been seen but are rare.
Nudging Outdoor Girl onto a shelving beach is fine in calm weather, but she weights over 700kg so the trick is not to get stuck on the shore unless you mean to. Stern and bow anchors, placing temporary outhauls, utilising boat legs and laughing at the skipper as she wades or swims back to shore after anchoring is all part of the fun in summer. The boat also has a stand-up paddle board, and the skipper has a drysuit/waders for later in the year. Sailing into small ports for icecream or beer is not too stressful as it is easy to brail up the mainsail and row the last few yards onto steps or a pontoon.
Setting sail and getting going under sail are key sailing skils for any size sailing vessel, as is helming and coastal navigating. Sailing Outdoor Girl is not hugely complicated despite having 3 sails. You can try sailing her single handed, which is a bit more challeging. Using our body weight to trim the boat properly is important if you want to sail fast or upwind. In moderate winds with strong gusts you may have to sit and lean out like on a dinghy, but Outdoor Girl has a lot of ballast to keep her upright. It is a different mindset to dinghies. The seamanship you are learning is to carry the right sail area for the conditions. Keeping a lookout is very important as the sails are low with many blind spots so it is a team effort.
We are not stopping – we are just sailors resting for a bit…..
Wild camping is clandestine and secret. We ask guests not to reveal our landing locations blatantly on social media. If you are not happy with this concept then this is not the holiday for you.
There are very few places in England where wild camping is legal without the landowner’s permission. Scotland and some national parks have right to roam and wild camp, but these freedoms were often hard fought from the landowners. This does not stop South West Coast path backpackers discretely camping in remote spots. Sea kayakers often pull up on Cornish beaches to rest and camp overnight. Pilots in Cornish pilot gigs would often pull their 32ft wooden gig boats up on the beaches of the Lizard Peninsula and camp underneath the upturned boat overnight, rather than row 10-14 miles back to port.
The foreshore is the area between the high water mark and the low water mark. When the tide is in there is an absolute right to navigate through the shallow water. All foreshore belongs to the Crown unless it has in the past been sold or given away. In South Cornwall this normally means the National Trust or the Duchy.
Where we stop overnight, it will be a mix of special spots where we have the landowners permission, and other more secluded places where we have simply come ashore to ‘rest for a bit.’ In the morning or on the high tide we will move on.
In some places we will actually sleep on board on comfy mattresses with a boom tent. This not so easy to accommodate whilst social distancing is in place but if you want to experience it then it can be arranged.
The Wild Camping Code for Scotland will be followed so we leave no trace.
Accommodation overnight & Covid – Are you brave enough to camp?
The price of these voyages is set to include meals and camping overnight. We will accomodate you in a 2 person tent on your own if you are coming solo, or sharing the tent with a member of your household or bubble. There are full details of these mountaineering style tents in the accommodation section. The skipper has her own tent.
You can opt to camp on Outdoor Girl under the boat tent instead of ashore, but during Covid-19 pandemic the skipper will have to be sure she can get to you in the boat quickly if she is social distancing in a tent ashore. Two people from same household can sleep on the boat. It is very romantic and more spacious than a tent, but there is not room to social distance. The boat is 6ft wide (183cm). Tent is 136cm wide with full mosquito net doors.
Camping or Glamping not for you?
If you really don’t want to camp and you are prepared to book more conventional accommodation ashore, Debbie is happy for you to come back in the morning and carry on with the next day sailing. There is no reduction in price, but we can probably give you a lift back to your hotel or cottage. Please let us know where you are staying when you book. Cottages, campsites ashore and hotels may be very oversubscribed in 2020 summer due to it being shortened by the earlier lockdown.
Debbie will cook and adhere to standard food hygiene requirements. As a covid precaution a cutlery/crockery set will be yours for the trip and your responsibility to wash.
Wild swimming and washing can be combined. Eco friendly soap products please if you bring your own toiletries.
As well as soap and seawater we will have hand gel, but please bring your own if you have a preferred brand of sanitiser that you are comfortable with using.
Debbie is a big fan of wild swimming and trains for open swimming events with ‘Into the Wet Stuff’ a local Cornish fitness coaching and swim training company run by Binnie and Nick. She swims in the sea all summer after work in Classic Sailing office and has spent years encouraging guest crew on pilot cutter Eve to jump in the sea.
There is a tradition in many Cornish villages to jump in the sea on Boxing Day. The sea rarely drops below 10 degrees centigrade in the winter months and locals surf in wetsuits all year round…Its cold but allegedly good for your mental health! In summer the temperatures are much kinder and the water is often crystal clear.
The outer limit of our sailing area in summer is Nare Head to the South of Helford River and St Anthony, but within this sailing ground is a huge range of sailing and landing opportunities. In Winter the area shrinks slightly from St Anthony’s head to Rosemullion Head, allowing open water sailing in Falmouth Bay.
This is probably the most hands-on sailing experience in the Classic Sailing fleet. The skipper/owner of Outdoor Girl is Debbie Purser. As co-founder of Classic Sailing she is taking these mini sailing expeditions right back to our company roots. When we set up sailing voyages on pilot cutter Eve of St Mawes, the skipper sailed solo with guest crew and it was a truely collaberative effort, with guests fully involved in the whole process from navigation planning to anchoring and rowing ashore.
Debbie loves cooking, whether it is on a big boat or on a campfire/camping stove so you don’t need to do that, but just about everything else is a team effort. Pitching tents, setting anchors and shorelines, carrying equipment ashore in drybags and packing up again in the morning to go sailing is a team effort.
We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands-on participation. There is a lot of information about day to day life, the facilities and accommodation of the ship on the vessel page above.
Every customer will need to fill in basic medical questions for their voyage. If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility is up to a sailing voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office on 01326 53 1234 and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better.
Nobody wants to catch COVID-19 which is why all our vessels have all set themselves up to take you safely to sea and operate strict procedures to comply with relevant COVID-19 guidance.
Nobody wants to pay for a voyage if they are not going to be refunded if the voyage can’t run because of COVID-19.
Nobody wants to pay for a voyage if they are not going to be refunded if they can’t join the voyages because of COVID-19.
*Please note each sailing vessel has their own Covid-19 policy details as shown in their Terms and Conditions, see your vessel’s Terms and Conditions below.
On a sailing voyage, we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast and most idyllic or sheltered anchors and ports. They are as keen as you to include some of the highlights described above, but you have to go with Mother Nature, not fight her.
Visas and Vaccinations
Classic sailing is unable to be an expert for advice on visas and vaccinations for customers travelling outside their own country. Please seek advice relating to your nationality travelling to the countries of your voyage from the country you will be setting off from and returning to.
In most instances, you will need a passport that expires six months or more after your return to your home country.
Classic Sailing strongly recommends that you have adequate travel insurance for all voyages except day sails. Whilst we recognise that many policies do not cover aspects of travel disruption due to Covid-19 restrictions, there are many other reasons why you need cover for your holiday with travel insurance, in case you have to cancel or have to curtail your voyage. We recommend that you ensure that your travel insurance covers the eventualities described in the terms and conditions for your vessel.
Topsail Insurance offers a range of travel insurance products, designed with sailing trips in mind. Find out more here and choose the right policy for you
This is the home port of Classic Sailing. A seafaring village on the East side of Falmouth Harbour.
The historic Quay in St Mawes Harbour (TR2 5DW) is the official rendezvous for all Outdoor Girl Voyages. Plan your travel for the quay in your first instance.
Our alternative meeting point in St Mawes is Freshwater Boatyard, Freshwater Lane (TR2 5AR). Outdoor Girl has a beach mooring on the shore to the left of the main slipway at this tiny boatyard on the Percuil River, which is best for some combinations of wind and tide.
This is still within the village and only about 10 minutes walk from the village quay and main (pay & display) car park. There is sometimes free street parking in this area in Buckeys Lane, Pedn Moran or Freshwater Lane itself. As with all street parking please make sure there is room for fire engines to get through and no drives are blocked.
Do not drive down the steep driveway into Freshwater Boatyard. It is a small working area and no room to turn. and no parking.
For some voyages we may pre position Outdoor Girl in a new exploration area within the Falmouth and Helford Estuary network to make better use of the winds and tides and sheltered water. Debbie will contact you at least 48hrs before the voyage with final joining instructions by email and text. All confirmed customers will be sent Debbies mobile number for emegencies or late arrival.
The A30 is the best route into Cornwall for St Mawes – if you follow a Sat Nav you will probably be taken via King Harry Car Ferry which is not the quickest route but is worth doing for the experience.
The best way is to leave the A30 at Fraddon and follow the B3275 until it meets the A390 where you turn left for a little way back towards St Austell. Then follow the signs to the right for the A3078 which ends in St Mawes.
There are two car parks in St Mawes both trouble free and you can pay by card
St Mawes Quay Car Park is very convenient as it is where you join your voyage but is a little more expensive.
St Mawes Central Car Park run by the St Just in Roseland Parish Council is recommended. It is just a minute walk from the Quay.
You can pay for a number of days with a debit card
To get to St Mawes by train, buy a ticket for Falmouth Town Station and come accross Falmouth Harbour by passenger ferry..Falmouth is on a branch line from Truro which is on the main London – Penzance rail line. Trains come into Cornwall to Truro from many parts of the UK and it is only 30 minutes down the brach line to Falmouth but beware there are several small stations in Falmouth. Get off at Falmouth Town Station..
Falmouth Town Station (the Dell) is ten minutes walk from Customs House Quay where one of three ferries runs to St Mawes in the summer. In the winter it is about another 15 minutes walk to the Prince of Wales Pier.
Ferry is the best way. St Mawes Passnger Ferry timetable for both piers https://www.falriver.co.uk/ferries/st-mawes-ferry/timetable. This has a live update to confirm which ferrys are running on the day. It only stops in really bad weather.
St Mawes Ferry 01872 861 911 or 07855 438 674
Ferries are hourly in winter and three per hour in the summer and the journey is 20-25 minutes.
There are buses from Truro to St Mawes but they are very infrequent and take about an hour.
Newquay is the nearest airport but it is poorly served by public transport. A taxi to St Mawes can cost over £60
Classic Sailing recommend Treesisters charity as a carbon offsetting scheme and we have our own Classic Sailing Forest you can add tree planting to. These community tree planting schemes are all in parts of the world that desperately need reforestation and have maximum scope to reduce CO2
Packing your gear for a self sufficient sailing expedition in an open boat is a skill in itself.
At least you don't have to worry about the food provisions, water, cooking and camping equipment, as Outdoor Girl's skipper will supply and pack that for you on the 2 and 3 day taster voyages.
Fast drying clothing is helpful, but the main trick is to stay dry and always have spare dry clothing kept dry.
Lightweight packing is not as important as it would be if you were back packing, but we still have to keep the overall boat load light, and have room to stow everything securely on a 17ft x 6ft boat.
We also need enough floor space to be able to move around the boat and sail and row Outdoor Girl, access anchors and safety kit etc.
Classic Sailing can look after any spare kit or valuables ashore if you come by public transport.
WHAT WE SUPPLY:
The tents each have a fixed torch for interior lighting
Mountaineering quality Insulated inflatable mattresses
a yoga mat each - for yoga / sitting down ashore / extra insulation/padding
All food and cooking equipment, BBQ charcoal and wood
We tow a stand up paddleboard you can try. (If you dont have a wesuit for bouyancy thn we can supply a small or large bouyancy jacket.)
ESSENTIAL KIT YOU NEED TO BRING
HOW TO PACK
The kit bags will be stowed against the sides of the boat or under the thwart seats. Please try and keep bag sizes small, so we have room to move about whilst sailing. Our tents and spare fresh water are stored under the floorboards to lower the centre of gravity.
When we stop for the night these will be unloaded and you can either store them in the outside foyer of the tent (Quasar tents have an entrance either end with foyer tent under the flysheet) Or bring your kit bags into the inner tent if totally dry.
The inner tents have ample headroom when you are seated, waterproof built in groundsheet and a zipped door or zipped mesh insect screen so you can enjoy the view.
There are no waterproof lockers on board, but you are welcome to bring a SMALL extra bag for things you might need during the day like cameras, money, extra layers. Please make sure anything valuable is well waterproofed.
WHAT TO PACK - FULL LIST
SUP - on request we can bring a stand up paddle board to try.
alcohol - you are welcome to bring some for evening ashore for responsible drinking. (none whilst sailing please)
fishing lines or collapsible rod.
"My weekend sailing trip (photos). Can’t recommend this highly enough. With Debbie Purser who made the trip a real joy and we got lucky with the weather."Russell Young Aug 2020
A huge thank you to the lovely Debbie Purser for the best day out of shielding....a socially distanced sailing adventure followed by a wild swim. Debs you're a legend xx"Caroline D. & Freddie
Today a socially distanced sail with Debbie. Many thanks also to Adam for helping Debbie step the mast so we could keep apart. the trip up and down Percuil River and back and fore across Carrick Roads has done my mental health a power of good....Chons da me hearties."Jan P.
Check out SailRowExplore.com - Debbie Purser is a female empowerment heroine of mine. Anything to do with Debbie is worth getting involved with. She is a true entrepreneur x'Esther M. June 2020
I think your new venture with Outdoor Girl is BRILLIANT! It's lovely to see a small and engine-less alternative to all the large and (sometimes) luxurious vessels you promote.
I'm not planning to sign up for this (sorry!) because it's the kind of thing I already do singlehanded on my 11' lugger, sleeping on board and cruising my patch. If you'd been offering this ten years ago, I'd have done it like a shot!Sarah S. Past sailor with Debbie - inspired to buy her own small boat.
Outdoor Girl is a 17ft spritsail yawl. Travel around the Cornish coast the greenest way possible by rowing and sailing 'Outdoor Girl’ with a local skipper as your guide. This is an open boat with no cabin so you can really live an outdoor life for a few days. Tuck into places that only smugglers would find. Wild camp, improve your small boat skills and gain the confidence to explore without an engine. Take part in the voyage navigational planning with the skipper and learn to make full use of wind, tide, ingenuity and oars.
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