Isles of Scilly and Plymouth

Fri 30 Jun 2023 12:59

Thanks to a large but not very deep low-pressure system, we had an amazing sail from Horta with a decent following wind most of the way enabling us to sail in an almost straight line for the Isles of Scilly.    Finally, though, with about thirty-six hours to go, the wind which had been so useful for nine days, evaporated as we clipped a region of high pressure lurking in the north of Biscay.  But, with less than 200 miles to go and a full diesel tank, we had no qualms about starting the engine to maintain progress.  Even at that range we started to feel the influence of the tides with three or four hours of enhanced speed over the ground followed, a few hours later, by the reverse situation as the stream hindered us.

During the last attempt to catch a fish, inspired by frenzied dolphins and plunging gannets, the fishing line managed to entangle one of the soaring birds that I now know are Shearwaters.  The indignant, and slightly stroppy, bird was pulled onto the sugar-scoop step in the transom where we wrapped it in an old towel to  untangle the line from its wings; fortunately it was only tangled and not hooked so we released it and, after a bit of a shake to straighten its feathers and  a few trial wing flaps, it took off again, hopefully with no permanent damage.

Mid-summer ‘spring’ tides are not large compared to those at the equinoxes but ten miles from the Isles of Scilly, the tide ‘hooked us up’ and sluiced us, still under motor, past Tearing Ledge and the Bishop Rock, serenely into Broad Sound with a knot of current under us.  With settled weather, St Marys Harbour, 49:55.00N 006:20.00W, was busy.  It was 9:30 in the evening of the longest day, just after high water and still plenty of daylight but we couldn’t find a mooring, and with that our hopes of getting ashore before closing time started to evaporate. 

The only option was to anchor and we moved across to the pool just north of St Marys. The 10kg (picnic) anchor failed to set in the weed and we changed it for the 20kg Delta.  By the time we were confident of our holding with the bigger anchor it was dark and we resigned ourselves to a night on board but a few Azorian gins were consumed along with a bottle of red wine.  With no wind and little tide in the anchorage, and no pressure to get up to go on watch, we slept well.

We had a lazy day in St Marys on Thursday 22nd and after showers in the public facilities on the quay, went our various ways to explore, shop or just wind-down before meeting for lunch in, appropriately, ‘The Atlantic’ pub.   The wind was due to freshen from the south or southwest on Thursday night so in the afternoon, we moved anchorage to the more sheltered Porth Cressa from where we set off for Plymouth on Friday morning.    In the morning, the southerly wind gave us a good reach to the Lizard (still flying our small working jib) and a slower run from there up towards Penlee Point where, with 5 miles to go at 4:30 in the morning, we ran out of wind and motored into Cawsand to anchor for some sleep and breakfast before crossing Plymouth Sound and locking into Sutton Harbour to meet family and friends.



The Atlantic on St Marys; from   l-r: Tony, Brian and Keith
Thank you Royal Plymouth Corinthian yacht Club for your lovely 'Welcome Back'