Step on board the majestic Constance for vintage luxury along the Helford River

When Jeni and I were invited for an evening on board the Constance, we jumped at the chance of experiencing this luxury Victorian launch whilst cruising the beautiful, unspoilt Helford River.

We headed down through the tree-lined, winding lanes and parked up at the Helford River Sailing Club. Walking down onto the pontoon, we gazed out in wonder as the late afternoon sun turned the river into gold, dotted with yachts. Just as we arrived, Captain Dave met us in a RIB to transfer us to the Constance.

Not being someone with much on-water experience, friendly Dave was brilliant in helping us get on board safely, chatting and calling out to other people out and about on the river. We weaved in between impressive boats and yachts, but nothing was as lovely as the queen of the river, the Constance.

As we approached, the stunning, elegant Victorian launch, built in 1895, lay majestically on the river waiting for us. Formerly a steamboat, it has been beautifully restored by its owners and turned into a silent, sleek cruiser powered by electric.

We were helped aboard and met by JB, the other crew member, plus two other guests, a couple from Australia, travelling the UK for three months. Once settled, we were handed a delicious glass of Prosecco and Dave and JB talked us through the health and safety bits, and the history of the boat. Their obvious excellent knowledge and experience put us at ease.

Soon we were gently cruising down the river, causing the merest ripple on the water – a true testament to Victorian boatmanship and excellent handling by Dave. We passed swimmers, kayakers and the odd boat; either moored up for the evening or slowly cruising the river like us.

Being a full moon and high tide, the river was very full, so we had full access to all the little creeks and waterways, the broccoli-like trees thickly lining the river’s edge, overhanging by meters in places. Because we were so quiet on the water, birds and other wildlife carried on undisturbed; we saw roosting herons and snowy egrets clustered together, and even a ray swimming close to the surface, its wings splashing on the surface.

As we cruised, we were given tasty canapes to go with our bubbly – totally delicious! Other options which are available to book are lunch, afternoon tea or dinner cruises, dependent on the time of day you want to sail.

Throughout the trip Dave pointed out places of note, such as the beautiful stone Tremayne Quay, built for a visit for Queen Victoria who never arrived, apparently due to poor weather. Today, it stands out amongst the trees, serene and stately, a perfect spot for visitors to picnic and for little ones to use the swing on the tree which stands alone on the actual quay.

Bishops Quay served as our halfway point a wide fork in the river, where we turned around and headed back, before diverting up Frenchman’s Creek, synonymous with Daphne du Maurier- a mysterious, atmospheric place.

We arrived back at the mooring just as the sun was setting behind the trees and the first of the stars littered the sky, and Dave helped us once again into the RIB and took us back to shore.

This wonderful evening is a truly unique, authentic way to explore this beautiful part of Cornwall. From the heritage of Constance, a beautifully restored Victorian launch, to the friendly, knowledgeable crew and tasty vittles served on board, this is a one-of-a-kind way to enjoy an evening and one which we thoroughly recommend to any visitor.

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