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Scillies 2019

Updated: 02-08-2019

Report from Steve Worner aboard "Wheal Go" (Bavaria 47)

(Photos - Steve Worner)

Crew: Roger, Ruth, Lis, Caroline & Nigel; Skipper: Steve

Withdrawal symptoms had been taking their toll with no visit to the Scillies for 4 years following last year’s disappointment of strong wind preventing a visit. To try to reduce the chances of disappointment in 2019 we decided to go for the Jaws option ‘need a bigger boat’ so we booked Cornish Cruising’s 47ft Bavaria "Wheal Go" which has no more accommodation that the 40ft Delphia we had last year but is a physically much bigger boat.

Sunrise leaving Scillies - crew
Sunrise leaving Scillies - crew

This year was a special one for two of our Motley crew of myself, Roger, Ruth, Lis, Caroline & Nigel having cause to celebrate (Caroline celebrated a significant birthday the previous week & Nigel’s last day before retirement was the Friday of our trip).

We kept a careful watch on the weather and sadly, Saturday was forecast with winds on the nose until sometime on Sunday so we decided to still gather on Saturday afternoon and hope that the weather would moderate to allow a departure on Sunday.

After a pleasant meal at the Marina on Saturday evening the forecast for Sunday seemed favourable for a late morning departure on Sunday and after collecting fresh pasties we cast off. Nigel was given the challenge of getting the big boat out of the Marina berth (believe it or not there’s no bow thruster, although most of the smaller Cornish Cruising boats do have this ‘luxury’) and made a good job of it, allowing us to head all points South West.

Once we cleared Black Rock in Falmouth entrance we set sail for the Lizard (avoiding the Manacles) and had a good sail for a time before the wind dropped and what wind we had was on the nose. So it was engine on and motor to St Marys, passing reasonably close to Wolf Rock lighthouse. During the trip we had about 5 sightings of Dolphins and Porpoises and on two occasions they came and played under our bows for quite some time.

Scillies Chart
Scillies Chart

We approached St Marys from the South around Spanish Ledges and the only slight worry was the Cardinal Buoy which had become a Green Starboard can – we had my old set of charts, a new set on the boat, the boat’s chart plotter and Nigel’s electronic chart which all showed the Cardinal but in all honesty, none of these had been checked for updates recently. The good news was that conditions were very clear and we were absolutely confident of our position.

We arrived at the moorings off St Marys harbour at about 20.00 to find they were all taken, mainly by visiting French boats although many other nations were represented. With calm conditions we were happy to join a number of other boats anchored just clear of the moorings, including a pair of old Gaffer rigged Brixham Trawlers.

Sunrise at St Marys
Sunrise at St Marys

Monday dawned bright and clear & one by one the crew got up and sorted out their breakfasts, watching the world go by, and in particular departures from the moorings. When two boats departed we quickly fired up the engine, raised the anchor and headed across to pick up one of the vacated big boat (over 40ft) moorings. This wasn’t as quick as it might seem as the anchor had to be raised by hand as Cornish Cruising have stopped replacing expensive electric windlasses as charterers are using them to drag the anchors out of the ground and burn them out, rather than motoring over them to break them free.

Smith Sound and Western Rocks
Smith Sound and Western Rocks

It was a hard job as the boat had a heavy chain and anchor, and like all good sailors we had used the old adage that ‘anchor chain is more useful on the sea bed than in the locker’.

Sunrise at St Mary's
Sunrise at St Mary's

Once we were settled on the mooring and mid-morning beverages drunk we headed off in the dinghy to the harbour wall for showers and a leisurely lunch in the Atlantic Hotel where we also booked a table for the evening. Some of us then had a leisurely stroll around the coast path to Old Town Bay, via the church yard where Harold Wilson and his wife Mary are laid to rest (Mary only last year aged 102). For those who are not aware, they had a holiday home in St Mary's.

Tresco New Grimsby Sound
Tresco New Grimsby Sound

During the evening meal we decided that Tuesday would be a windless day and we would motor up through New Grimsby Sound, around the Northern Scillies and back to St Mary’s later in the day so booked a table for Tuesday evening before departing for a nightcap on board the boat.

Sunset at St Mary's
Sunset at St Mary's

Early(ish) the next morning we paid the Mooring Officer and asked if we could leave our dinghy on the buoy to ‘reserve’ our spot and he was happy for us to do this but could not guarantee that someone would not decide to use the buoy anyway. So we headed off and were able to cross the flats between Tresco and Samson as it was high water and our vastly experienced navigation team took us through the winding route until we were able to follow the deep water channel between Tresco and Bryher.

Samson from Porth Cressa
Samson from Porth Cressa
Samson from Porth Cressa 2
Samson from Porth Cressa 2

Having reached the open Atlantic, with nothing between us and the good old USA we turned right and just kept a steady progress right around the outside of Tresco, St Martins & St Mary's (plus masses of other small islands and rocks) before deciding to pop into the gap between St Agnes & Gogh to drop the anchor for lunch. After a leisurely lunch we lifted the anchor (not so much chain out this time) and headed off clockwise around St Agnes, through Smith Sound and back to our mooring.

New Grimsby Sound, Tresco and Bryher
New Grimsby Sound, Tresco and Bryher

After a leisurely few hours on the boat we headed ashore for our meal but the outboard was not behaving itself, we did check that we had plenty of fuel but it was not sounding too healthy. During the week we had been keeping a careful check on the weather as there were forecasts of strong Easterlies and having got everyone settled down with drinks in their hands I broke the news that we would be heading back at dawn the following morning as winds gusting over 50mph were forecast from Wednesday evening, through Thursday and on to Friday afternoon.

Northern Isles
Northern Isles

The return to the big boat was delayed when the outboard would not play ball so Nigel & myself paddled back to "Wheal Go", abandoned the dinghy on the mooring buoy and returned with the big boat to collect the crew from the harbour wall before returning and putting the dinghy & outboard away.

Leaving St Mary's
Leaving St Mary's

The first alarm sounded at 3.30 and we prepared for departure with the only delay being an empty gas bottle. Once this was changed and tea and coffee drunk, we set off in semi-darkness with a heavy sea mist to navigate out between St Mary's and St Agnes heading East for the Lizard. After a while the mist lifted, we waved bye bye to Scilly and with an escort initially of seals to Port & Starboard and occasional visit from dolphins we motored back.

Sunrise leaving Scillies
Sunset at Falmouth Marina
Sunrise leaving Scillies 2
Sunrise leaving Scillies 2

The wind started to pick up as we rounded Lizard Point and we could possibly have sailed back across Falmouth Bay although the big Bavaria does need a reasonable breeze to get it moving and we were aware of the imminent high winds. Discussions took place on whether to head up to the shelter of Malpas but the decision was made to tuck the boat back in it’s marina berth, where we had access to our cars for a bit of shore based tourism. Whilst waiting on the fuel berth Nigel & myself had a look at the boats berth & decided he would bring the boat in with the rest of the crew whilst Ruth & I waited to take the lines on the pontoon. It was agreed that I would take the line from a midship cleat & hopefully control the boat as it came alongside with Ruth ready to put the brakes on with a bowline, if required. This was exactly what happened with just a little extra help from Ruth bringing the boat to a stop in the very short berth.

What I have failed to mention is that, other than the usual worry about damaging a boat and being embarrassed, Bob Grant (who had taught many club members at night school class in Bristol) works for Cornish Cruising as an instructor and was running a course ‘instructing the instructors’ so there were plenty of experts around to watch our efforts.

Mousehole
Mousehole

Having tucked the boat up (with the possible option of heading out for a sail on Friday if the wind dropped) we drove to the Pandora for a meal on Wednesday night and then visited Mousehole & the National Trust car park off Godrevy Lighthouse (St Ives Bay). Although the winds were strong it was extremely warm and T shirt weather.

For Thursday evening we booked tables at the pub attached to the Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth and cheered the England women on to victory in the football World Cup quarter finals.

With the wind not really dropping much on Friday and other things which various crew members could do up country we abandoned "Wheal Go" on Friday morning & headed home.

Godrevy Lighthouse (St Ives)
Godrevy Lighthouse (St Ives)

As ever a good week, with great company but, not having achieved all we wanted, we have a good reason to return.