WINKS on the Fal

Richard Bessey

July 1999 saw the completion of 18 months restoration work on WINKS, a 11½ foot clinker lugger built at Tucker Brown’s of Burnham in the about 1958. She has had her keel and centreboard case replaced, one garboard and about 30 ribs, along with a good deal of sundry patching. A couple of days in the Roach for trials and a touch of taking up, WINKS was loaded on a trailer bound for Cornwall.

Arriving in Friday afternoon rain, I launched at a public slip at Sunny Corner near Truro, and tacked gently down the river, leaving the family to find a camp site. Near Loe Beach at the head of the Carrick Roads I encountered a Falmouth Oyster boat, it’s owner preparing for the Falmouth Classics racing next day. He helped me to find accommodation for WINKS on the beach for the week (£20).

Next day I set off for Falmouth. As the morning progressed the number of traditional boats grew, and by the time I arrived near the starting boat (an old square-rigger) there seemed to be hundreds milling about - WINKS seemed to be the smallest boat!. There were yachts and working boats of all sizes. Of particular local interest were the Falmouth Oyster Boats - which still dredge the Carrick Roads under sail (motors are not allowed whilst fishing). These craft are also raced seriously and many a 1st XV were seen sitting along the side! Skiff rowing is also highly popular in Cornwall, but these traditional boats are also required to sail, and a large dipping lug is used - several were racing that day.

I followed the action across the Harbour entrance to St Anthony’s head, then sailed into St Mawes, where I tied WINKS up to the harbour wall and went to look for a Pastie. I also looked into the St Mawes YC for a beer, and the racing officer kindly showed me round the place.

The afternoon saw WINKS back at Falmouth to see some races finish, then back the three miles up the Carrick Roads.

During the following week, WINKS visited most of the places that surround the Roads - Restronguet and the shallow Devoran estuary, Mylor, Flushing, and Penryn on the Falmouth side, St Just, Feock and the Truro River on the St Mawes side. The estuary is perfect for small boat sailing, with a big expanse of water but well-protected and with rarely more than half-a-knot of tide.

One evening we sailed up the Truro River to Malpas (about three miles) to visit family there, six of us in WINKS. The river passes the KING HARRY chain ferry, several laid-up ships, and some curious cottages (with an interesting history no doubt) as it winds between the steep oak-clad hillsides. We had a fine Cornish tea in Malpas, and didn’t get away ‘till nine, to row back in the dark!

WINKS is now back home on the Roach for the rest of the season. The experience of trailing her to remote parts was remarkably easy-going, and likely to be repeated. One interesting footnote - we actually used less fuel on the journey than usual - thanks to a little less wellie on the motorways!