An Incident on Frenchman’s Creek
It was a beautiful moonlit evening with the outgoing tide slopping against the hull in the warm gentle southern breeze.
A heron shook out its wings and then lifted into the air. We were relaxing aboard our Cornish Lugger enjoying a night cap of Calvados which we had recently bought in Roscoff in Brittany during our cruise across the Channel. We were talking about the SOE agents during the 2nd World War who used to be brought back across the channel in similar vessels to ours to a safe house on the Helford River for resting up between missions. We were also discussing Daphne Du Maurrier’s wonderfully romantic novel set on this creek.
Our idyll was rudely shattered by loud voices from a group of yachtsmen in an over loaded yacht tender which they were rowing to their yacht anchored opposite us. Amid much jollity the occupants of the dinghy clambered aboard their boat. Suddenly there was a loud splash followed by great consternation and confusion resulting from the last person in the dinghy having lost his footing and fallen backwards into the creek. Immediately a life bouy was thrown down to the casualty which he grabbed, following which they passed him a looped line which he managed to put over his head & under his armpits, whereupon his companions hauled him up the side of their boat with great difficulty and further shouting and encouragement until they were able to grasp his arms and haul their sodden companion aboard. An ignominious but fortunate outcome to what could have been a disaster and a lessen to us all.
We shared in the relief of his companions for his safety and wrote up this incident in our ship’s log. He had had a lucky escape in the treacherous currents of the outgoing tide.
The tide was going out fast now and the wading birds gathered on the silty shore. The night birds could be heard calling in the still of the night. Clouds scuddered in across the west heralding a good sailing breeze to be enjoyed the next day for our passage up to Fowey (the erstwhile home of Daphne du Maurrier). An interlude on one of the most beautiful and romantic rivers in the UK.
Written by: Susie Groom
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