The West Briton is a local paper published in Cornwall and it has a Falmouth & Penryn Edition that we always buy as soon as we arrive at The Captains’ House. The paper was first published around the time that The Captains’ House was built and it now comes out every Thursday. There are many things to recommend it to a visitor, as it provides some real insight into what is happening in the local community, but there is one page that draws me more than others: HarbourTalk.

HarbourTalk lists all the ship movements over the course of the previous week and I find it fascinating. Last week the paper had the following:

Tuesday November 26th: The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Genmar Argus (81.151,00) arrived well before dawn to load bunkers. She was on passage from Bilbao Spain, in ballast, to Teesport, Middlesbrough.”

And the only picture on the page was of the coaster Edor.

“On Saturday, the Danish coaster Amanda arrived for repairs and entered dry-dock. This vessel, under her original name Edor, was a familiar sight for 20 years, calling at both Par and Fowey to load china-clay in slurry form. Together with her sister ships Condor, Widor, Tudor, and Tirador they were operated by Reederei Paul Hase KG, Hammah, Germany, and all were frequent visitors over many years.”

These are just two of about fifty shipping movements that are listed. I find them so compelling because I love the sea and ships and I’m a great fan of Annie Proulx and her wonderful book The Shipping News; I can’t help thinking there must be more to say about some of these arrivals and departures and the ships’ crews: if only we had a Quoyle in Falmouth.

Quoyle is the protagonist in The Shipping News, which tells the story of a man’s search for identity and healing, and it is one of my favourite books about the sea, perhaps the most enigmatic yet powerful character in the story, and which Annie Proulx finds words to describe like no one else I know. In the book Quoyle writes a column just like HarboutTalk.

There is always a copy of The Shipping News in The Captain’s House.