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    Calling in at Fowey
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2006 Oct 27, 16:20 +0100

    In a message [NavList 1487] Re: Cleaning arc of Vernier Sextant, Henry
    Halboth reminisced about a visit to Fowey. I would love to read more
    of those "digressions"of his, from the days when ships really looked
    like ships. I bet there he has many more up his sleeve.
    
    But I suppose people, even in the 1930s, would have said that these
    modern vessels don't really look like proper ships, any more.
    
    Anyway, back to Fowey, a port I would always drop into on my visits to
    the West Country. Henry's account brings back my own memories.
    
    Henry's account is exactly right. It's a one-product port, exporting
    China-clay (kaolin) and nothing else. Brilliantly white stuff, it was
    spoiled if it got sullied with smuts, which accounts for the hold
    ceiling that Henry refers to. Nowadays, it's handled in specialised
    vessels that carry nothing else, so that there's no contamination.
    These have the superstructure right aft, like a tanker's, and the
    hatches are an immense sliding structure that opens the whole hull
    length, folding like a concertina.
    
     It is not mined, but washed out from the hills that contain it by
    high-pressure hoses, like firepumps. The white scars that remain are a
    landmark to passing vessels, which we refer to as the St Austell Alps.
    I think the trade has fallen on hard times recently.
    
    To reach the loading wharves for the clay, the cargo vessels have to
    pass through the narrow harbour, and turn round. That harbour also
    acts as an anchorage for many small vessels like my own, who are asked
    to allow clearance for turning vessels when they do so. But I remember
    being woken in the (very) small hours of one morning, having strayed
    into the area required for a particularly large clay-carrier to turn,
    and asked, politely but with no room for argument, to shift, and
    pronto!
    
    Now, an additional docking area for small-craft has been created, just
    opposite the clay-loading wharves, which is tolerable if you don't
    mind a film of white powder getting everywhere. Absolutely everywhere.
    
    Henry's memories about the Queen's and the King's as drinking places
    correspond to my own, but there are others, for the dedicated
    searcher-out.
    
    A pleasant spot, Fowey.
    
    George.
    
    contact George Huxtable at george@huxtable.u-net.com
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    
    
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