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Anchoring in St Mawes: Those Falmouth Working Boats Come SO Close!

After our stay ‘up river‘ we headed back down towards the coast and popped into St Mawes, a pretty coastal village on the Roseland Peninsula. It took us just over an hour to get from the anchorage just shy of the last visitor pontoon on the Truro River to St Mawes; a lovely, gentle meander along the river in the morning sunshine!

St Mawes Anchorage

St Mawes is situated on the Percuil River, at the southeastern end of the Fal, opposite Falmouth. It is easy to approach with just one hazard – Lugo Rock – which is marked by a south cardinal buoy. As you make your entrance you can spot St Mawes Castle, at the northern shore end of the coast, before passing the rows of pastel houses that line the shoreline of this quaint and unspoilt corner of Cornwall.

Moorings and Anchorage in St Mawes

St Mawes Harbour has a number of visitor mooring buoys at a cost of £25 a night (August 2022) for vessels up to 12m; £35 for vessels up to 15m. Alternatively there is an anchorage area between the beach and the mooring field, however do ensure that you don’t drop in the fairway used by the ‘tripper’ boats between Falmouth and St Mawes. Initially we dropped close in to the beach on the northern side of the inlet but found that this area had quite a bit of seaweed. We watched as a neighbouring yacht struggled to take and, whilst we were holding, we were concerned that at the turn of the tide we could possibly unset or someone nearby could. We tried dumping a bit more chain but then found we were sitting in the ferry channel! So we decided to move back a bit, this time dropping at 50˚09.293N 5˚00.913W, on the other side of the fairway and just off of the mooring field. In 8m of water we had 30m out and after backing down on our anchor we were satisfied that we were holding well.

Also do be aware of the Voluntary No Anchoring zone on the southern side of the entrance to St Mawes, in place to protect eelgrass beds.

Dinghy Pontoon in St Mawes

Going ashore we landed the dinghy at the pontoon in the inner harbour at a cost of £5 for a short stay. This area does dry at low water so keep an eye on the time! We popped into the Harbour Master’s Office to pay our anchorage fee, which we were thought was 50p a metre for 24 hours, however they told us there was no charge for anchoring – finally a free anchorage in Falmouth! We also topped up our Jerry Cans with water from the tap at the quayside.

St Mawes Harbour

The village of St Mawes is postcard pretty; a picturesque harbour surrounded by lush hills and quaint houses. There is a Co-Op store (don’t be fooled by their ‘clearance’ shelf – as the staff member told us, it doesn’t mean it’s reduced, just stock that the shop is trying to get rid of!), a couple of pubs, bakery, seafood stall, pharmacy, butchers, deli and gift shops. For those fancying a boat trip you can hop across to Falmouth, passing the castles of St Mawes and Pendennis, across the Carrick Roads and past the working docks of Falmouth.

Old Fuel Pumps in St Mawes

After exploring the village we strolled along the coast to the headland and St Mawes Castle, which offers beautiful views over the Fal Estuary.

St Mawes Castle

Back onboard, it turned out that Thursday’s was a popular evening for the local sailing clubs! St Mawes Sailing Club do a spot of racing of Thursday’s and the iconic Falmouth Working Boats literally sail past within touching distance (see our blog header photo to see just how close!), a little unnerving to be honest but impressive to see these gaff-rigged cutters elegantly, but powerfully, glide by.

Sailing Boat in St Mawes

Our stay in St Mawes was brief, just the one night as we would now be starting our journey back east.

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