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Saint Mawes

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Overview





Saint Mawes is situated on England's southwest coast, about fourteen miles northeast of Lizard Point and opposite the port town of Falmouth. It offers moorings and a protected anchorage.

The harbour offers good protection except for any substantial southwesterly wind which unfortunately is the prevailing sector. However, it is simply a matter of crossing over to Falmouth or moving upriver should it become uncomfortable. The entrance and its approach is well marked and may be safely accessed in all reasonable conditions, at any stage of the tide, night or day.



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Keyfacts for Saint Mawes
Facilities
Water available via tapShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the area


Nature
Anchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
5 stars: Safe access; all reasonable conditions.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
March 29th 2019

Summary

A good location with safe access.

Facilities
Water available via tapShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the area


Nature
Anchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: harbour fees may be charged



HM  +44 1326 270553      info@stmawesharbour.co.uk     stmawesharbour.co.uk      Ch.12 [St. Mawes Harbour Radio] 
Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 9.487' N, 005° 0.840' W

This is the head of Saint Mawes Pier which exhibits a light 2F.R.(vert)

What is the initial fix?

The following Falmouth Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
50° 7.967' N, 005° 1.336' W
This is ½ a mile south of the entrance and on the line of bearing 004° T of the eastern extremity of Saint Mawes Castle, situated on Castle Point, that leads in via the river's preferred East Channel.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern England’s coastal overview from Start Point to Lizard Point Route location. The entrance to the River Fal is covered in the Falmouth Harbour Click to view haven entry.
  • The River Percuil enters the River Fal from the east a ½ mile within the entrance.

  • The ½ mile-wide entrance has only one danger, the covered Lugo Rock, which lies south of Saint Mawes Castel and is well marked by a lit south cardinal.


Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Saint Mawes for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Falmouth - 1.2 miles W
  2. Portscatho - 1.4 miles NE
  3. Gillan Creek - 3.2 miles SW
  4. Helford River - 3.5 miles SW
  5. The River Fal - 3.9 miles NNW
  6. Coverack - 5.4 miles SSW
  7. Gorran Haven - 6.2 miles ENE
  8. Portmellon - 6.8 miles NE
  9. Mevagissey - 6.9 miles NE
  10. Cadgwith - 7.5 miles SSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Falmouth - 1.2 miles W
  2. Portscatho - 1.4 miles NE
  3. Gillan Creek - 3.2 miles SW
  4. Helford River - 3.5 miles SW
  5. The River Fal - 3.9 miles NNW
  6. Coverack - 5.4 miles SSW
  7. Gorran Haven - 6.2 miles ENE
  8. Portmellon - 6.8 miles NE
  9. Mevagissey - 6.9 miles NE
  10. Cadgwith - 7.5 miles SSW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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What's the story here?
Saint Mawes
Image: Michael Harpur


Saint Mawes is a small town with a drying quay located at the entrance to the Percuil River on the Roseland Peninsula. It lies off the east bank of Carrick Roads, ½ a mile within the entrance to the River Fal and on the opposite side to the town of Falmouth. It was once a busy fishing port but it now serves as a popular tourist location with many properties in the town functioning as second homes or holiday accommodation. A small fishing fleet still operates from the harbour and a seasonal foot passenger ferry service plies its way from here to Falmouth's Custom House Quay.


St. Mawes Pier & Harbour Company booth on the quay
Image: Michael Harpur


The harbour authority is St. Mawes Pier & Harbour Company who overlooks the harbour area from their booth on the quay. They maintain a listening watch on VHF Ch.16 with a working channel of VHF Ch. 12 [Saint Mawes Harbour Radio]. They may also be contacted by Landline+44 1326 270553 or E-mailinfo@stmawesharbour.co.uk and the web site is Websitewww.stmawesharbour.co.uk.

The St. Mawes Pier & Harbour Company provide 10 visitor moorings capable of taking vessels of up to 15 metres LOA off the quay. The visitor moorings are green buoys, marked 'St Mawes'. Charges per day range from £18 for vessels up to 10 metres, and £33 for a 12 to 15 metres boat (15 m maximum).

It is also permissible to anchor clear of the moorings but it does attract harbour dues. Expect to see the harbour master RIB out and about around the harbour collecting harbour dues and mooring fees and it is worth hailing them if there are any questions.


The Percuil River continuing into the Roseland Penninsula
Image: Michael Harpur


In addition to the harbour area vessels that can anchor and take to the bottom may continue up the Percuil River. The river and estuary, a ria or drowned river valley, meanders into the peninsula for 6 miles. Above Percuil, about midway, it quickly dries.


How to get in?
Saint Mawes Castle and south cardinal marking Lugo Rock
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use southwestern England’s coastal overview from Start Point to Lizard Point Route location for seaward approaches. The entrance to the River Fal is covered in the Falmouth Harbour Click to view haven entry.

Saint Mawes harbour is entered between Carricknath Point and Castle Point, ½ a mile northward. St. Mawes Castle, standing on Castle Point and ¾ of a mile north of the entrance, stands prominently throughout the approach to the River Fal.

The single hazard to be mindful of is the covered Lugo Rock that lies 300 metres south of Castle Point. It remains covered with a LAT of 0.8 metres and is marked on its southern side by the 'Saint Mawes' southerly cardinal buoy, Q (6)+L Fl 15s. The cardinal should normally be passed on its correct side, left to port on approach, by deeper draught vessels during the lower stages of the tide. It is, however, possible for most boats to cut in from the north during the top half of the tide as, at half tide, there is not less than 1.8 metres between the buoy and the Point.

The run in from the cardinal to the visitor's buoys (bottom left)
Image: Michael Harpur


Once past the cardinal, there is a central shallow patch with 1.9 metres LAT that very deep draft vessels may need to consider during a low spring tide, and the 5-knot harbour speed limit. Outside of this, it is simply a matter of following a central track up the river. Located on the northern shore, ½ a mile within the cardinal, the houses of the small village of Saint Mawes and its drying harbour will be visible throughout.


St Mawes Quay
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location The harbour authority has 10 green visitors' swing moorings located southeast of the quay. It is also possible to anchor to the east of Castle Point or clear of the harbour authority moorings off the beach east of the quay. Vessels anchoring off the beach should keep clear of local moorings and avoid anchoring in such a fashion as to obstruct the small passenger ferries operating between St. Mawes and Falmouth.

It is also possible to anchor off the south side of the entrance to St Mawes between Carricknath and Amsterdam Points. The Falmouth Bay & Estuaries Initiative just request that mariners refrain from anchoring close to the shore as they are trying to protect an eelgrass bed. This extends out to seaward of the low tide mark to a depth of 3 metres. Keeping in deeper waters is appreciated.


Landing jetty inside the pier
Image: Michael Harpur


Land at the quay securing the tender to one of the two sets of steps that are inside the harbour wall. Tenders shouldn’t be secured to the central pontoons, although people do this unknowingly. It is also possible to land on St Mawes Sailing Club slipway at Polvarth except for LWS.

A vessel may come alongside the pier at high water but it will cost you £8.00 per hour, for a 5 - 8 metre vessel and more for a 10-metre boat. Drying out inside Saint Mawes inner harbour is possible by arrangement with the harbourmaster.

Pecuil River continuing inland around Polvarth Point
Image: Michael Harpur


Vessels proceeding up the Percuil River on the tide, preparing to anchor and take to the ground when the tide is away, should keep a sharp eye out for numerous moorings and oyster beds. The deeper water is broadly indicated by the line of moorings, and good depths can be found up to North-hill Point after which it shoals rapidly. Make certain to dig the anchor well in as thick weed on the seabed tends to foul anchors sending them skittering along the riverbed.

St Mawes Sailing Club maintains three visitors' moorings up the Percuil River. It is best to contact the club regarding depth and availability Landline+44 1326 270686, E-mailoffice@stmawessailing.co.uk, Websitewww.stmawessailing.co.uk/. Fin keelers who need to remain afloat in the harbour should not overlook the opportunity to ascend the river on the tide as it makes for a delightful day out in some stunning scenery.


Why visit here?
Saint Mawes takes its name from the Celtic monk St. Mawes who arrived here in 550 AD. He is believed to have come from Ireland but is mainly venerated in Brittany who know him as St Maudez.


A romanticised version of St Mawes by JMW Turner
Image: Michael Harpur


The monk established a chapel and holy well at the base of Church Hill. His cell gave the area its first name, which was mentioned in 1284 as Lavada, or Lavousa in Cornish, which is built on the element lann the name for an early Christian enclosure. The chapel remained in use throughout the Middle Ages but was eventually abandoned in the 16th-century and allowed to fall into decay.


Traditional boats off the quay today
Image: Michael Harpur


From these Christian roots, St Mawes grew to become a busy fishing village and port despite being vulnerable to attack from Breton raiders. Most surprisingly it was to be the only coastal settlement in this area throughout the entire medieval period. Falmouth, across the river, only started to develop as a port during the 17th-century.


St Mawes Quay with St Mawes and Pendennis Castles in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur


For up until this point the settlements of the River Fal were focused on a small number of centres around its tributaries, various tidal waterways, and bridging points at the upper limits such as Truro, Penryn, Tregony and Grampound. This was partly due to the estuaries’ exposured position to foreign raids and, more importantly, the inner settlement’s proximity to larger hinterland markets and major routes.


Sailing past Saint Mawes Castle
Image: Tim Green


Hence it was the only recorded coastal settlement to have a notional ‘town’ status from 1283. But this, most likely, consisted of a cluster of houses or cottages along the shoreline that appears not to have developed on any scale. As late as the mid-16th-century it was listed as a 'poor fisher village'. Elizabeth I made it a borough in 1562 and it returned two members to parliament which was extraordinary when the whole of Cornwall was represented by only 44 MP's. Like most of the enfranchised or re-enfranchised Cornish boroughs during the Tudor period, it was a rotten borough from the start and disfranchised in 1832.


Roseland Gig Club overlooking the quay
Image: Michael Harpur


This was no doubt sparked by the increasing political tensions with Europe in the late 1530s and the realisation of the strategic value of the Fal, not only as a haven for English shipping but also as a potential invasion beachhead for an enemy. This lead to the construction of St Mawes Castle with its counterpart Pendennis Castle on the opposite side of the estuary between 1540 and 1542. The Tudors established deep relations with the Killigrew family across the water in their estates at Arwenack.


Saint Mawes is today principally a tourist destination
Image: Michael Harpur
With the corresponding forts sited to command an uninterrupted field of fire over the entrance, the estuary was well guarded. The protection they provided made the open sea safer and having close proximity to major trading routes St. Mawes expanded to support industries such as boat building and repairs, and rope making. Together with its traditional crab, oyster and pilchard fisheries, and the pilchard cellars, the inns of the area flourished. In 1808 the Board of Trade decreed that Falmouth was to become a compulsory pilotage area and the pilots from St Mawes could reach incoming ships before their Falmouth rivals.

Being rather isolated on the Roseland Peninsula, and with its connecting roads in very poor condition, St Mawes itself would never become a port of any note. In 1880 it was described... as a quiet little fishing village, consisting of a long straggling street fronting the water; it has, however a good pier which was erected in 1854; and a sea-wall with a parapet which was built not long ago, along the centre front of the town.

Many sea captains, who earned their living carrying cargos of goods from port to port, found it convenient to base themselves in the village. Notable families then started to follow suit in the wake of the sea captains, attracted by the charm of the village or to take their holidays there. The desire for second homes in St Mawes started at the turn of the 19th-century. By then its maritime industries were in decline and after the opening of the railway to Falmouth, in 1863, St Mawes slowly faded to become a holiday destination and an exclusive residential and retirement village in the 20th-century.

Today, set in a deeply serene secluded area the unspoilt fishing hamlet remains a popular place for retirement with its waterside retreats attracting staggering prices. As such, it boasts an abundance of smart houses or villas in addition to its traditional cob cottages and holiday homes. Its popularity has been boosted by being off the main holiday track which has also helped it escape over-development and commercialism. Most of its tourists come over via the foot passenger ferry from Falmouth. So it remains a quiet, select and idyllic enclave with good restaurants, attractive shops and a number of galleries.


Pretty historic fishing corteges overlooking the quay today
Image: Michael Harpur


The pretty town lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with the same status and protection as a National Park. There is no better place to gain a grandstand view of Falmouth docks, estuary, and Falmouth Bay, than from St Mawes Castle.


Saint Mawes Castle
Image: Tim Green


Located a short stroll from the village the castle is among the best-preserved of Henry VIII's coastal artillery fortresses, and the most elaborately decorated of them all. The castle scarcely saw military conflict as Henry's forts were intended as a deterrent. The closest call came during the English Civil War in 1646 when an early surrender to parliamentary forces left the castle immaculate. The bloodless takeover eased the way for a much harder-fought conquest of Pendennis Castle which was the penultimate hold out Royalist fortification of the war. Both castles are managed by English Heritage and can be visited today. The cloverleaf-shaped gun battery of St Mawes is by far the prettiest, featuring circular towers around a central keep which is approached via a classic drawbridge. The castle has a host of decorative features which can be explored by wandering freely around the interior chambers and the outside gun decks.

The ferry to Falmouth's custom house quay
Image: Tim Green


From a boating point of view, the pretty Roseland backwater of St. Mawes, just a mile across the river from the busy port of Falmouth, offers blissful peace and comfort. The distance is short enough to be crossed in good weather by a stalwart tender and outboard, or by the ferry which crosses daily every 30 minutes for a modest fee. The anchorage is well protected unless the wind is westerly which, sadly, is the prevailing wind. But, should the winds build, it is simply a matter of moving across to Falmouth or proceeding up the river Fal, and vessels that can take to the bottom will find all-weather shelter up the Percuil River around Polvarth Point. In any other winds, particularly easterlies, it is a perfectly quiet piece of Cornish bliss.


What facilities are available?
There’s a water tap in the inner harbour just along from the yacht club that can be used to fill jerry cans. Also fuel by jerry cans and camping gas. St. Mawes Sailing Club welcomes visitors and allows access to their club showers and toilets. They also have a welcoming bar. There is a slipway and jetty in the harbour.

The small town has a small Co-Op minimarket on the seafront and a small bakery on the dockside opposite the harbourmaster’s booth, and a Post Office. There is a Lloyds TSB St Mawes but no cashpoint. Being a magnet for tourists there are several cafes and restaurants serving good food.

Services in the Fal/Falmouth Area

Batteries:
Cornwall batteries P: +44 1872 270P: +44 11
Trago mills P: +44 1326 315738

Builders & repairers
Falmouth boat co. P: +44 1326 374309
Pendennis shipyard P: +44 1326 211344

Chandlers
Bosuns locker P: +44 1326 312212
Mylor chandlery P: +44 1326 375482
Macsalvors @ the boathouse P: +44 1326 377131

Divers
Falmouth divers P: +44 1326 374736
Seawide services P: +44 1326 317517
Sub marine services P: +44 1326 211517

Electricians
Falmouth boat co. P: +44 1326 374309
Marine electrical services P: +44 1326 378497
Marine trak engineering P: +44 1326 376588

Electricians (technical)
Selex communications P: +44 1326 378031
Sim rad P: +44 1326 374411

Riggers
A2 rigging P: +44 1326 312209
Falmouth boat co. P: +44 1326 374309
Mylor rigging P: +44 1326 375482
Stay tensioner services P: +44 1326 373310
The boathouse P: +44 1326 374177

Engineers
Cellar marine (yanmar) P: +44 1326 280214
Challenger marine (volvo penta) P: +44 1326 377222
Coastal diesel & transmission P: +44 1326 313332
Seastart (inboard / outboard) M: +44974 250533
Falmouth boat co P: +44 1326 374309
Kevin Hearn M: +44 767 303286
Marine Trak Engineering (vetus agents) P: +44 1326 376588
Nick Eddy M: +44968 214226
Powerfal (turbo chargers) P: +44 1326 377160
Robin Curnow (outboards) P: +44 1326 373438
Simon Caddy P: +44 1326 372682

General supplies
FWB (screws, bolts etc.) P: +44 1872 243500
Bubbles (laundry services) P: +44 1326 311291
Marineco (clothing) P: +44 1752 816005
Seaware (all boat fittings) P: +44 1326 377998
Trago Mills (various) P: +44 1326 315738

Sailmakers
Penrose Sailmakers P: +44 1326 312705
Sailtech P: +44 1326 376550
SKB Sails P: +44 1326 372107


With thanks to:
eOceanic.


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Saint Mawes, Cornwall, England
Image: eOceanic thanks Tim Green


St Mawes Quay
Image: eOceanic thanks Tim Green


The inner quay at low water
Image: eOceanic thanks Tim Green


St Mawes Quay at half tide
Image: eOceanic thanks Tim Green


The landing jetty Saint Mawes
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Yachts anchored off the beach
Image: eOceanic thanks Tim Green


Drying out on the beach for maintenance
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The harbour as seen from Polvarth Point
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The Percuil River
Image: eOceanic thanks Tim Green




Aerial Overviews of St Mawes



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