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Cornwall Marine Directory

The Fal Estuary

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Between the quiet yet imposing forts of Pendennis and St Mawes lie the glistening waters of the Fal Estuary. It is one of the best all-round sailing and safe cruising grounds in the world.

This sheltered basin of the Carrick Roads is a watersports haven offering anything from yachting to kayaking, diving and snorkelling to windsurfing. It's a place of wooded creeks that can be explored in a dinghy or canoe and has wonderful opportunities for on and off the water activities.

It is also a welcoming sight to the visiting yachtsman thanks to the great deal of facilities the estuary, the town of Falmouth itself, and surrounding villages have to offer.

One event highlight of the estuary is the annual Henri Lloyd Falmouth Week Regatta, which is one of the best-attended Cornish sailing festivals. It sees all sorts of boats going head to head in the estuary and out in Falmouth Bay. From high performance dinghies to cruising yachts and classic boats, they all come to compete in this picturesque boating hotspot.

Henri Lloyd Falmouth Week is one of a wealth of sailing events to be found taking place in this area. Other attractions include the prestigious Falmouth Classics racing and the new Fal River Festival which sees historic Falmouth Pilot Cutters in a parade of sail. The estuary is also home to class racing including a strong J24 fleet and a stately fleet of Sunbeams.

On land there are such great sights to see as the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. Housed in an award winning building on the Falmouth harbour-side, the National Maritime Museum transports you into the world of small boats and Cornish maritime history.

the National Maritime Museum transports you into the world of small boats and Cornish maritime history

The estuary itself has a wealth of creeks and inlets as well as charming villages and smaller settlements scattered along its banks. St Mawes to the East is a village nestled around a picturesque harbour. Today the village contains a selection of great places to eat and stay.

The estuary is an ideal location to hire a dinghy to explore what's around those corners or take the opportunity to brush up on your sailing skills with lessons. You can also take a ride on one of the local ferries running between Falmouth and Flushing, St Mawes and Mylor.

fal_qtr_wkg-boatOne of St Mawes' annual highlights is the Falmouth Working Boat World Championships hosted by the village. It sees the estuary erupting in a whirl of coloured topsails as these boats, many of them antique, battle it out to be the best in their fleet. The working boats themselves are something of a legend around the Fal Estuary. A bylaw of the Fal oyster fishery - that fishing may only be done while rowing or sailing - is largely responsible for the preservation of the fleet.

Around the corner is the small village of St Just in Roseland known for its picturesque church set in magnificent gardens complete with subtropical shrubs and trees. The church sits on the edge of a tidal creek looking out over the sparkling waters of the Carrick Roads the anchorage here makes a peaceful stopover for the night.

At Mylor yacht haven visiting yachtsman can find everything from marine engineers to marina accommodation. Mylor has a good selection of services as well as the peace and quiet of a rural Cornish village with beautiful surroundings. For the experienced, the Truro River is navigable all the way to Cornwall's capital on a favourable tide.

camel_qtr_dinghyThis is also one of many great places on the estuary to hire a dinghy or canoe to go and explore the creeks to your heart's content. If you find Restronguet Creek, you'll no doubt spot the 13th Century Pandora Inn - one of the gems of the estuary.

This sailor-friendly pub offers good food and a warm welcome as well as having its own pontoon and facilities for visiting yachtsmen.

If there is a job to be done on your boat you'd be unlucky not to find a person to help out in Falmouth. From repairs to the cooling systems of a super yacht to mending the engine of a small boat or spars of a dinghy, the port has someone who will be able to help. Use the search box at the side of the page to find the services you require.

Blessed with its far western location, there is also nowhere better than the Fal Estuary for high profile sailing events - not only did Robin Knox Johnston begin and end the world's first non-stop solo circumnavigation at Falmouth in 1968/69, more recently Ellen MacArthur used the port as her first landfall after smashing the record for the same feat.

With some of the warmest and clearest waters in Britain, these shores are also home to a wide range of marine and shore-based wildlife. The Fal's diverse scenery is designated a Special Area of Conservation by Europe - affording it the highest category of protection possible.

fal_main_dolphinImage courtesy of Toby Budd
The Fal estuary is also a year-round attraction to dolphins and porpoises with many sightings. Regular species include the bottlenose dolphin, the white-beaked, common, striped, Atlantic white-sided and Risso's dolphin.

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