Words by Hannah Tapping
A unique maritime enclave with Mediterranean overtones.
It’s been more years than I can remember since I visited Mylor Yacht Harbour. Cutting my teeth as a young yachting journalist, this would be our destination of choice to photograph products on the marina’s board walks or to interview visiting yachtsmen and women, squeezed into cockpits, clutching steaming mugs of tea, shooting the ocean breeze. A recent visit, however, revealed that Mylor harbour has become so much more than just a marina. The sum of its parts have combined to create a unique waterside destination.
Two hundred years ago this was England’s smallest naval dockyard in one of the world’s most strategic ports, home of the naval training ship, HMS Ganges and the Packet ships, and centre for the French Resistance during the Second World War. We chose to park a little way out of the port so that we could walk down through the parish churchyard of St Melorus. We walked past many graves of those who made their living on the sea, including those of several Packet ship captains and more than 60 of the men and boys of HMS Ganges, infamous for its harsh conditions and zealous discipline.
Mylor is now home to the last fleet of oyster fishing boats under sail and has become a haven for water-lovers of all types. I would be hard-pushed to ever again align so many good things all in one evening. The sky was blue, the air warm. A gentle breeze was creating my favourite sound of halyards clinking against masts. The marina was full of every vessel you could imagine, from small pocket cruisers to sleek 40-footers, RIBS to rowing boats and a couple of large modern motorboats that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Monaco. In fact, the whole feel was Mediterranean. We were there for dinner at Castaways, Mylor’s social hub. Serving delicious food and drinks to day visitors, locals and sailors alike we spent a happy evening watching a new world unfold. As we sat down at a table on the quayside, I leaned back against the warm wall and with the sun on my face I could have been thousands of miles away.
In modern times, Mylor’s heritage lies in its marina, boatyard and marine services. With one of the largest boat storage facilities in the south west, Mylor’s dry storage extends up the valley behind the harbour, accommodating up to 600 boats in cradles, chocked or on trailers during the winter months. Treating each vessel as if it were their own, the yard team at Mylor are always on-hand. As expert boat handlers they are able to lift and launch boats up to 38 tonnes. Mylor’s boatyard services also includes a marine team of engineers, electricians, shipwright’s, GRP experts, painters, and fabricators and riggers. Combined with a dedicated parts store and onsite chandlery Mylor is all about offering convenience and expertise to the discerning boat owner.
Dining quayside at Castaways
Exploring Carrick Roads
The marina itself is world class. 180 berths are arranged in a unique horse-shoe shape, making entering and leaving simple, straightforward and stress-free. You can choose to berth annually, for the duration of the summer or as a visitor for a few days or a few hours. Each berth is fully serviced and with 24-hour CCTV and night security the only thing owners need worry about is where to explore next. The Carrick Roads, and nearby Fal Estuary and Helford River, combine to create the ultimate cruising paradise – think calm, tree-lined passages, hidden creeks and deserted beaches, inaccessible by foot.
However, adrenaline junkies should not despair as Falmouth Bay offers exciting year-round sailing and in ‘normal’ times a full race and regatta calendar. It was uncertain that this year’s Falmouth Sailing Week Regatta would go ahead but with the support of local sailing and yacht clubs and full week of racing was achieved. Mylor Yacht Harbour MD, Neil Salter commented: “Mylor Yacht Harbour is all about boating so we want to promote local boating in as many ways as we can and supporting events such as Falmouth Sailing Week is one way we can do this. We’ve supported the event for many years and want to continue to do so in the future. Sailing events like this bring together like minded people who have a shared passion and whilst there is always a good competitive spirit, there’s also a sense of community that comes with this – it brings people together and gives a different dimension to enjoying boating.”
Over the last 20 years, a £7million investment programme has seen the port go through a huge transformation. Bought by Roger and Dinah Graffy in 1997, their vision was to create a harbour community like no other. In order to protect the Grade II listed quay, the old yacht club was demolished, replaced by a contemporary new building in 2011. The project cost over £1million and incorporates Café Mylor and Watersports’ shop. This is now a fitting home for Mylor Yacht Club, its sixty-plus year history and near 800 members.
Experience a harbour holiday
Shower blocks and a new marina office were also added as well as the renovation and preservation of some of the harbour front buildings to create four-star, self-catering holiday homes. Mylor Harbourside Holidays offers a range of accommodation, from two storey cottages to single storey apartments, sleeping up to eight people. Even if you don’t have a boat you can stay here and experience all that Mylor harbour has to offer. The Graffys always wanted Mylor to be inclusive, offering a place to visit for salty seadogs and landlubbers alike, and that has been achieved, in spades.