Country: UK - Isle of Man
Town: Peel, IOM
Boat name: Saffron
Length: 8m +
Engine: I/B Diesel 315hp
Join Date: Nov 2000
Scilly Islands Cruise 2005
[CENTER]The Scilly Islands Cruise 2005
9th, 10th and 11th July
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That cruised with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
(With apologies to William Shakespeare)[/CENTER]
Ok, Ok, I know it wasn’t St. Crispins Day at all, but if you didn’t go, then you missed out on a fantastic cruise! But hook or by crook we seemed to have accidentally picked the finest set of hot weather the year has brought us so far. A high centred over the UK and just stayed there. Winds, the whole weekend were less than 5 knots and not a cloud in the sky for the three days.
On the morning of Saturday the ninth, I drove down to Falmouth to meet up with Mike and Di Garside and join their 9m Ribcraft cabin RIB, Magellan Alpha. Andy Cox had already launched his recently acquired Pacific P22, Big Blue, and completed her overhaul. Andy was joined on his boat by his girlfriend Claire and 8 year-old daughter Luci.
At 11.00am promptly we were met at the Black Rock buoy at the entrance to St. Mawes and the Falmouth estuary by Duncan (Searider) and his girlfriend, Morven, on their 6m Scorpion fitted with a 225hp Mariner, War Shot.
At the RV there was a surprise visit from Alex Grieg (Gingercoastie) and family on their brand new Rayglass Protector, Silver Fern. Despite much waving of cheque books and rattling of change in pockets, Alex could not be persuaded to either sell us his new boat (for a modest discount!) or indeed, to join us on the cruise as he had to work during the following two days.
So casting envious glances over our shoulders, we set out for our first waypoint, the Manacles Buoy. The sea was like glass, allowing much playing in the wake and criss-crossing with each other as we thundered down past the Lizard and onwards to the Wolf Rock lighthouse.
In this stretch of sea, we had hoped to see The Bradstone Challenger, a 51ft Blade Runner craft powered by twin 1000hp engines. pass us by at 70 knots, on it’s way round the British mainland in search of a new record.
Anyway, at Wolf Rock we stopped for a sandwich before setting off to cover the last 19 miles to St. Mary’s. The thought has always occurred to me that if you got your nav. slightly wrong to the south, and missed the Scilly’s, your next port of call would be Florida. Whereas, if you got it wrong to the north, you would next fill up in Newfoundland. A sobering thought either way, but it is the sort of thing your mind dwells on when running in perfect sea conditions.
Rather than go straight into St. Mary’s Sound, we made a small diversion to go and look at the spectacular rock ledge that sticks out from the cliffs above Peninnis Head and overlooks the fearsome Gilstone Ledges.
Then it was on, round a couple of corners, and into Hugh Town’s harbour where we attached to one of the official yellow buoys and rafted up together. Ashore we briefly split up to sort out our various accommodations. The Garsides and I decided to walk around the old garrison walls that surround the Star Castle Hotel, but soon we all met up in the Mermaid Inn for a convivial glass or two, before our evening meals.
A leisurely start was made on Sunday morning. The weather perfect, again!
So, at about 09.30 we left Hugh Town, going north around St. Mary’s. On the way, because time was on our side, we went into every little bay and cove we could find.
Porth Hellick, on the island eastern side, has always confused me though. On land you can walk up to the jetty, admire the small building next to it, and look out to sea. From the sea, however, it is a different matter. You can nudge your boat slowly in until it becomes too shallow and a line of unbroken rocks stretches across the approach. How do you get in? Do you get in? Ah, well.
Onwards then to Gugh Sound on St. Agnes and time for young Luci to have a swim with her mum, and for us to enjoy an excellent cup of cafeteria coffee.
Then it was round the western side of St. Agnes and up through Smith Sound to the puffin home island of Annet. Amazingly for this time of year, there were two dozen or so little orange-nosed puffins still around. Chirping and playing they dived around our boats until, to bored with our company, they chattered away leaving us to spot some giant jelly-fish in the water. The seas here are so clear, you can see way down to the rocks and sand patches slipping away more than 20 feet beneath your hull.
A quick run down to the Bishop’s Rock lighthouse was next on the agenda. We had heard that some chaps had rowed across the Atlantic and were due to cross the line at Bishop’s about then. No sign. So we returned to our favourite pub, The Turks Head on St. Agnes for lunch. After dropping everyone ashore, the last boat (in this case, Magellan Alpha) returns to the middle of the bay, to moor on a buoy. This difficulty of parking in St. Agnes gave Mike the opportunity to show off his immersion suit in which he then proceeded to wade ashore (much to our stifled amusement!).
An hour and a half later, and a swift tour of some of the island, and we are off to the famous (or perhaps I should say, infamous) Scilly’s Rock. This is an island, like the Maen-A-Vaur, which is split through. It is possible to take a small boat right through to the other side. Last year we managed it several times through the Maen-A-Vaur, but having been told that was for wimps, and real sailors took their boats through the Scilly’s Rock, we had to go have a look. Well, shiver me timbers and stap me vitals! There was NO WAY any of us were going to go through there. The guys that do must be mad!
Anyway onto the Maen-A-Vaur, then the Round Island lighthouse and up and down a few more Bays and Sounds until, eventually, we stopped, exhausted, for tea at the splendid St. Martin’s Hotel.
I had hoped to be able to persuade the others to go out to visit the Seven Stones Reef, site of the Torrey Canyon disaster. However, local knowledge obtained from John Nichols (famous local character and at one point the Scilly’s Isles Pilot), was that there were no remains to be seen and that it was a complete waste of fuel to go the 16 nmiles there and back, and that a much more efficient use of our time could be spent in buying him a drink and having a longer chat! And so, after our teas, we returned, down Tean Sound and thence back to Hugh Town for, yes, you guessed it, another “lifesaver” in The Mermaid. It had been a long hot day out in the sunshine, but a beautiful one, and the beers soon took their toll.
The 11th started late, but the air, breathless and very, very hot. Before 09.00 the air temperature was up in the low 20s C. Some sandwich shopping, plus refuelling took us slightly longer than anticipated, but by 11.00 we were out again on a mirror-glass sea, heading towards the Eastern Isles. We went carefully around Great Arthur and then just as we arrived at the Menawethan rocks, we spotted a large colony of Atlantic Grey Seals taking their ease on the rocks and amongst the kelp. We cut our engines and drifted silently in until we were no more than a few yards from them. We judged this near enough not to disturb them, although they kept a wary eye on us. We slowly reversed until we were out on the eastern side of the island and then set course for the Lizard.
Even after stopping for perhaps 30 minutes in the vicinity of Wolf Rock, we still managed to tie up in the Percuil River in Falmouth before 15.00.
I have to say that was the smoothest, flattest crossing I have ever had to The Scilly’s and I must have been there and back at least two dozen times now.
My thanks to all who came along and enjoyed this pretty special weekend. Particularly to Andy Cox for organising and leading the event and to the Garsides for my lift on Magellan Alpha.
News of the record attempts.
We missed her at The Lizard but found out later on that night, it had hit an underwater obstruction, damaged the hull and running gear, and had had to withdraw from the attempt.
The lads complete this in a new record time, but unfortunately for us, passed the line about 18 miles due south of the Bishop’s Rock lighthouse. So we missed that one two.
Chris Strickland and Seahound.
This did beat the Round The British Isles Record. They finished very early Wednesday morning after travelling around the mainland of Great Britain, Ireland, St. Kilda, the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetlands.
Well we missed them all, but they missed the Scilly Islands Cruise 2005. I wonder who feels who came off best?
1. Alex Grieg and family with Silver Fern
2. Duncan and Morven with War Shot
3. Andy Cox, Claire and Luci with Big Blue having fun
4. Penennis Head
5. Paradise (Turks Head on St. Agnes) with the 2005 cruisers L to R Di, Mike, Duncan, Luci, Andy, Morven and Claire. Checkout that seabed!