Stopping Places: Fowey to Lands End

Be sure to check out Reeds  and / or the appropriate pilots for more detailed information and alternates, this is just an overview of likely candidates, but I have been to all of them. 

To see my recent visits to each anchorage check out the "Labels" the panel to the right or follow the individual links.

Updated Jan 23 to include Harbours and Marinas also some info on fuel & gas availability, I would not have checked at many locations.

Further updated during a boring winter 2023/4 to include some information on access to and from marinas. See my page Marina notes (opens in a new window) for some general tips and the context (handling of my boat) in which I comment.

Red = Anchorages, Blue = Marina or Pontoon

Fowey


A very popular stop or destination for sailors and holiday makers which means it gets very crowded both in town and on the moorings where boats are frequently rafted up on moorings already close together, boats tend not to swing together off Pont Pill but despite that I have not seen a collision although I have been close more than once. If things are busy and space is available on one of the mid stream pontoons that is probably a better bet. Shelter is better further up but is not normally a problem anywhere. The valley is a sun trap and it can get very hot on a calm day, a sun shade of some sort may be needed. 

The tide runs quite quickly at times and the river is busy, best to have the outboard on the tender to get ashore or take the water taxi.

I try and avoid during high season, especially at weekends when sailors based around the Fal and Plymouth often visit, but like the place early and late. Don't think of going there during the very popular Regatta Week unless taking part, it gets VERY crowded and there might well not be an available mooring even rafted up - that can also happen during a high season weekends.

There is a self service fuel berth just above the car ferry but be careful as it pumps quickly and its easy to get blow back from the tank or when filling cans. Its easiest to get on and off during the ebb, port side to but starboard side to on the flood can be done if the fuel filler is that side. Getting on with the tide may be possible depending on the boat but probably not singlehanded. 

IIRC the fuel pontoon is quite high where as the mid river berthing pontoons are quite low so check your fendering.

Occasionally small cruise ships call, more frequently rather
larger ships come to collect China clay. Best to call Fowey Harbour
Patrol just before entering (any distance away VHF may not work),
 they will also give directions to a mooring, and later collect your money
which can also be paid at the office, every seventh visit is free.
The short term (max 1 hour) walk ashore pontoon by the Harbour Master's office Home | Fowey Harbour is very useful for shopping, water and a shower but is heavily used so you need to be lucky to get a space. Unless your boat steers well in reverse it is best to go on and off it with the tide running in the same direction as you will likely be "ferry gliding" both ways through small boat moorings. 

Showers, pound coins required, at the The Royal Fowey Yacht Club (rfyc-fowey.org.uk) for members of RYA affiliated clubs (and RYA members) and Fowey Gallants Sailing Club (foweygallantssc.co.uk). Rubbish disposal (bagged only) on pontoons.

Update 2023: Showers at the RFYC now cost £5 for 4 minutes! Update Sept 2023, I assume they had complaints, probably from members, it is still the same price per minute but you can now buy in £2 increments, one shot is long enough to shower if you turn it on and off.

Tenders can be moored behind the Harbour Master's pontoon, make sure you have a long painter, it gets very crowded. Life jackets can be stored in lockable cabinets at the top of the bridge.

Fowey up river part, the Harbour Master's pier and short term
pontoon  left (with space for a change), Fowey Gallants SC just
right of the boat on the left. Car ferry (blue) crossing extreme
right with the fuel berth just beyond (not visible).

The central part of town, RFYC on the left, Town Quay right
behind the moored yacht, used by the water taxi, the ferry to
Polruan and tripper boats.
Shopping is very orientated to day visitors but there is a very small convenience store, a good but expensive butcher / green grocer / delicatessen, several good bakeries and lots of places to get ice cream and pasties. A good variety of places to eat and drink.

Vodafone and O2 signals OK. I haven't tried the Harbour wi-fi.

Visited many times over 60 years and for 29 days, many of them weather bound, between 2018 & 2024.

Note: The small shop with some chandlery in Fowey has closed and despite, at the time of writing (April 2023) their web site advertising a wide range of chandlery the boat yard in Polruan closed their chandlery some years ago. The receptionist was rather surprised when I asked and said she would alert management to the error, so the website may now be updated. A Chandlery at Mixtow is now advertised but I have not been there.

Polkeris


A large anchorage exposed to the south but well protected from the north and east, its especially useful if Fowey is crowded, as it usually is during the summer. Vodafone and O2 signals OK.

One of the useful bathing beaches but keep a look out for jelly fish..
Parr Sands in the distance.
Visited 2018, 2021, 2022 and 2024.

Portmellon and Goran Haven

Two useful anchorages not far from Polkeris and Fowey that are sheltered from westerly winds but can be affected by swell, Portmellon less so than Goran Haven.

Warning: if moving between the two keep well off Chapel Point where I have found A LOT of very small dirty pot buoys - you probably would not see some even in a slight chop.

Vodafone and O2 signals OK at Portmellon, IIRC also at Goran Haven.

Approaching Portmellon anchorage
Goran Haven, an interesting anchorage in quite weather. The harbour is
shallow and dries, anchor off, well inside of Gwineas rock
Visited in 2023.

Portscatho.

A popular lunch time anchorage for boats based on the Fal and in the right conditions a useful passage anchorage, especially heading west as it is much closer to Plymouth than the Fal but only a couple of miles further to The Lizard than from St Mawes. Vodafone and O2 signals OK.

Portscatho anchorage
Visited in 2018 and 2023.


St Mawes.


Most of the time St Mawes will serve well and I been there many times, although the village does get crowded and noisy in high summer. Plenty of room to anchor in good holding with some weed, but keep well clear of the ferry route (not quite where it is shown on the charts), the ferry drivers appear to take delight in passing close by at speed. Also keep clear of the sailing club start line just off the harbour. Visitors moorings on the south side between Amsterdam Point and Carricknath Point are increasing in number seemingly every year, I understand to protect seagrass beds. In suitable conditions boats often anchor in the bay just north of St Anthony Head but I have not been in there.

The South Cardinal mark is just off Sancerre's
bow, Black Rock just aft of the mast, Pendennis
Castle right of the working boat under sail.
The pic below shows the view the other way.
Be careful west and particularly south of St Anthony Head as there are usually poorly marked pots along there. Also if approaching from Falmouth or Carrick Roads take note of the South Cardinal mark near the middle of the entrance to St Mawes Harbour, it is there for a good reason and boats frequently hit Lugo rock south of Castle Point whilst trying to take a short cut. 

St Mawes has a reasonable COOP, butcher, chemist and generally expensive touristy shops. The fish and chip shop / restaurant has a mixed reputation, a couple of us sampled the take away c 2021 and it was very poor, others I have spoken too though it was very good but I have not risked a return visit. Decent pasties on the harbour. Good pub food at the Rising Sun but it gets very crowded in season, take out a mortgage before sampling "The Idle Rocks" (not tried).

Dinghy landing at one set of steps in the harbour gets very crowded - take a long painter, and is well above the low tide line so it can be a bit of a haul back to the water over the firm sand. Vodafone and O2 signals OK.

Race days at St Mawes can be spectacular. 
Don't be surprised to find one of these working boats a few yards away.
Sancerre off St Mawes, July 2019. A long dinghy painter will
encourage race boats to keep a bit further off although from what
I have seen and heard the working boats are very skilfully sailed
and not a problem. As usual make sure you have your anchor ball
showing and show an anchor light, if someone did hit you, lack of
one could cause problems with a claim against them.
Visited many times, see labels. 

Falmouth and the Truro River.


On the mid river pontoon in the Truro river
2023, below Maggoty Bank and just after the
Truro River separates from the Fal.
Falmouth Marina near the top of Penryn River is very exposed to NW winds that whistle down the valley, I decided not to try and get in when I went there for fuel a few years ago. You will be charged for anchoring off Falmouth.

The Fal has many "hurricane holes", in really serious weather one of the pontoons up the Truro River is secure as it gets but take care passing Turnaware Bar and Maggoty Bank. 

If anchoring up river, especially at spring tides, ensure that the length of chain required at high tide will not let you swing onto a bank at low tide see my 2022 post "Stuck in the Truro river"  anchoring fore and aft would be a sensible, on two occasions I decided to use a pontoon instead. With a good outboard and sufficient tide the Truro Tesco's is within range for shopping from c Maggoty Bank (I am advise by locals to lock up the outboard and preferably the dinghy when in Truro. I understand there is a shower at the harbour masters office in Truro but one can be had at Malpas that is closer, visitors dinghies on the extreme right as you approach. Some victuals at the coffee shop but it is very limited, mainly sweets and expensive biscuits. Pasties etc. from c lunch time not sampled.

Vodafone and O2 signals OK.

Truro River in 2018, 2022, and 2023

Coverack

Good shelter from westerly winds although swell could be a problem. A spacious useful anchorage westbound to wait for the tide around the Lizard or east bound to avoid an adverse tide east or north. Often used as a lunch time anchorage from the Fal. I anchored overnight in 2023. Vodafone and O2 signal OK.

Coverack anchorage.

St Michaels Mount


A good anchorage in offshore winds and reasonably protected from the E and often the south east when the anchorage off of Newlyn would be bad news. Vodafone and O2 signals OK. Visited multiple times.

 Visited 2021 twice2022

Newlyn


Anchorages NE of the harbour in Gwavas Lake with good holding and SE (not tried). There are a few pontoon berths in the harbour (no animals allowed) which are convenient for shopping, fishing boats come and go, it smells a bit and if on the seaward side of the central pontoon you will often end up with three boats in bay rather than two. But I quite like it and have spent 35 nights there in the last few years, 18 of them storm bound πŸ˜’ and some visiting friends or recovering from long trips.

Anchored in Gwavas Lake off the harbour, 2023. There is
another anchorage the other side of the harbour.
Looking the other way towards Penzance. The Laundrette is
about 1/3 in from the left, the Lido just out of frame to the right,
the harbour behind.
In an emergency or in the event of heavy weather somewhere will be found for you to moor but it might be rafted on a fishing boat that could move at any time or against a rough wall with a tidal range of up to c 5.5 metres at springs. There are places to dry a boat out against a wall, check with the HM.

At low tide the water is very shallow heading to the inside berths and the channel narrow, drawing 1.7m I have been aground when inside the marker buoys, soft mud over rock which is why it has not been dredged deeper. 

Why you need to be careful going onto the berths behind the main
pontoon. at LWS where is barely enough water for me to get in
passing close to the fingers and clearly the port hand marks are
not a safe marker unless there is a couple of meters more water.
Newlyn Harbour, 2021. If coming into the harbour in the dinghy land on
the beach, left. Note how close in the channel markers are to the pontoon,
stay close to the inner pier head, don't be tempted to head straight to
the channel marker from the harbour entrance near low tide, stay close to the
end of the commercial quay.
If spending more than a night or two in suitable weather, consider a night in the harbour for shopping and showers and anchoring off or nearby for the rest. If coming into the harbour in the dinghy use the beach straight ahead from the entrance to land, the pontoon has a security gate and there is no space reserved for tenders. Alternatively go to the Newlyn end of the pebble beach stretching to Penzance which is close to the shopping.

Only the first few fingers on the pontoon can be used by yachts - watch out for the notice. Yachts are not allowed on the self service fuel berth which only supplies red diesel for commercial use. Water on the pontoons but you may need a very long hose or cans. Electricity is extra - I don't know how much as I don't need it. Camping Gaz & Calor available at the small chandlery. 

Showers and loos on the end of the RNLI block (combination for them and the security gate from the harbour office) are OK but the drains are temperamental so they are frequently not available or flooded, there are some not very salubrious gents loos at the near end of the fish market and an unheated (? at least darn cold in March / April!) shower & toilet at the other end - ask for the key for the latter at the HM's office nearby.

Vodafone & O2 signals OK.

There are plenty of services in the town including a medium sized CO-OP, a small but excellent cheese and charcuterie shop, pharmacy, fishmongers (surprise, surprise), a probably unique ice cream shop and a good Chinese takeaway. Laundrette on the near side of Penzance, tucked down the side of the "Casino", actually an amusement arcade.  Within walking distance but with my arthritis I do the wash myself rather than pay for a service wash and have to walk in twice.

Mousehole


There is an anchorage off of Mousehole just south of Newlyn but keep well clear of the route into the harbour and set a low level anchor light, locals tell me that fishermen have been known to crash into anchored yachts at night.

Lamorna Cove


I have not tried Lamorna which is often recommended, but locals tell me that you will rarely get a comfortable night there due to a rolling boat.

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