For the first time on this trip I have struggled with phone service. That’s not bad really is it and whilst the Isles of Scilly do have 3 / 4g you need to be above sea level but as soon as you walk up on to the shore, it seems to connect. There you go – excuse for lateness of this blog delivery…
I left St Mawes and made my way across to Falmouth Yacht Haven. Falmouth Harbour is massive but the choice for marinas close to the train station is limited. It’s really important that I keep things as convenient as possible for my meal ticket so I wanted to make it work. Falmouth Yacht Haven operates on a first come first served basis for their visitors berths and as there are not many of them, you generally have to raft up alongside someone else. I called them up and was told that someone was just leaving so if I got a move on, I would have the last spot! Five minutes later when it came in to view, there was a boat there! Jesus, you do have to be fast here. While I was trying to decide who I would annoy by going alongside, I got a call from the marina and they wanted to know what my draft was. On telling them that it was less than a metre they said I could go round on the inside in a tight but well protected spot near the harbour’s pilot boat so that’s what I did. I could see the bottom as I carefully crept round near the shore line and owing to the shelter afforded by being right on the inside, turning the boat in the small space available was no problem. My little spot was great! Whereas all the other visiting boats were heaving up and down on their mooring lines on the outside berths and feeling the full force of the choppy harbour, I was in a calm sheltered sun trap on the inside! Excellent, Canada will like this!
Me and my big mouth! I walked to the station and was relieved but disappointed to see Sarah with a navy blue case. Relieved because I didn’t have to relive the embarrassment of walking alongside the fuchsia pink case that arrived at Poole but disappointed because now I had no choice but to be a gentleman and do the donkey work!
When we got back to Fiesta Sarah put her case in the spare stern cabin, lit the fuse and ran for cover. I didn’t hear the explosion but when I glanced into the cabin a few minutes later, a bomb had definitely gone off. How do you do that?
Whilst the plan was to make for the Isles of Scilly as soon as possible, the wind on Saturday was from the one direction that would make it a complete nightmare so instead we spent the day in beautiful sunshine in Falmouth. We visited Pendennis Castle which is a fantastic place and I revelled in the endless amusement from watching a North American coo over anything that has a whiff of history about it or is more than five minutes old.
On checking the forecast when we were back at the boat, it appeared that a weather window was showing itself and it was looking like Sunday would bring wind from the East before swinging back to the West for the next few days. We’ll have some of that I thought and so at 9am on Sunday we left Falmouth in a moderate Easterly breeze, got out of the harbour, hoisted sails and switched the engine off. We made good speeds of about six to seven knots all the way down the coast passed Lizard Point and when we got to Lands End we turned and aimed fairly and squarely at the Isles of Scilly. The wind was now blowing out of the South East and the gentle breeze had given way to a force 4 to 5. I simply couldn’t resist it so we got the spinnaker out. I think I have said this before but I love that sail. I told Sarah that it was like a lady of the night in that you are guaranteed a great ride but it comes with some increased risk and dangers. This produced the closest I have ever seen to a dirty look from Sarah which in itself is a remarkable achievement. I chuckled to myself, had a scratch and moved on.
There was a point where everything was attached and we were ready for the hoist. I said to Sarah ‘Right, at this point it either goes really well or we have a total effing nightmare’. It was the the latter! Spinnaker up, it filled and then the halyard brake which is what holds the rope that you hoist the spinnaker up with came undone and the whole thing dropped from the top of the mast into the water! This is a NIGHTMARE! Quite often this will result in a spinnaker ripped to shreds or even having to be cut free because once it fills with water it is simply impossible to manhandle back onboard. We were lucky, it was only the bottom half that went in the water but unfortunately it went under the boat so I had to untie the ropes that attach to the bottom of the sail and and let it go right under and trail out the back. Only being attached to the boat by the halyard at the top of the sail, I managed to haul it back onboard.
The last two sentences simplify what was 45 minutes of scrambling around all over the boat in reasonably big waves, getting exhausted, hot, bothered and swearing like a tourettes sufferer on death row.
Drama over and once bitten, not twice shy we got that f*cking **** of a ******* ******* thing up where it instantly redeemed itself but providing an exciting ride of between 9 and 12 knots for the next couple of hours. As I said, I love that mother f*cker of a sail!
The best thing about this part is that I pushed Sarah into staying on the helm while this thing was up. I did this for two reasons. Firstly, she needs the confidence boost to show her that she is no longer a beginner and in fact is a pretty bloody competent person on the helm and secondly, I was too scared.
Our sleigh ride continued until the wind increased as did the waves and as always happens, a thought comes in to your head that says ‘Should we take this thing down’? As any sailor will tell you, the second you think about taking in a reef or getting a sail down is THE time to do it so I went on the foredeck and got the thing down without any further drama and with much relief at a successful mission despite the fractious start!
I’ve got some good video footage of Sarah on the helm achieving some great speeds and I will post this at some point because she did well!
The rest of the sail was good but uneventful and eventually the wind died and we motored the last two hours into a bay behind Hugh Town on St Mary’s. Total trip time was 10 hours. Tired, emotional and extremely happy to be anchored up we went ashore for celebratory beer to the Mermaid pub. It was Sunday night of the bank holiday weekend and the locals were enjoying themselves! I’m not sure if it’s because I come from Burnham on Crouch where we are not exactly blessed with the largest or most diverse gene pool in the word that makes me appreciate this but small gene pool pubs prove to be a lot of fun and the Mermaid was rocking! We had a couple of beers and both suffering from the feeling of being at sea all day, we swayed back and forth with Max to Fiesta for a late dinner and bed.
I knew the anchorage was going to be shallow and whilst the chart said it was a sandy bottom, I already had my doubts because the water was very clear and there were big black patches of weed and I wondered if these weeds were attached to rocks. We pulled up the anchor and moved into the biggest patch of sand we could find but at 3am we awoke to a fairly horrible deep bumping sound. I rushed outside and we were floating in less that three feet of water. It was low tide so I wasn’t worried about us drying out but I was worried when the bump and shudder happened again. On inspection with the torch, the stern of the boat had swung at the full length of the anchor line over a black patch and sure enough, under the weed I could see rock! It was only an isolated patch and as the boat swung over it and a small wave came in at the right moment, we dipped down and the bottom of the skeg to which one of the rudders is mounted bounced down on this lump again. No, no, no, I don’t like that at all so I pulled about twenty feet of anchor line in to move us clear and into the sandy patch again and went back to bed, slightly worried, slightly tense and happy knowing the tide was coming in again. In fact there was a lot of rock in that anchorage that wasn’t marked on the chart so after a quick explore of Hugh town the next morning, we did one.
I know, I know, this blog is a marathon and my apologies for that but no blog would be complete without this next bit.
We turned up at ‘The Cove’ on the island of St. Agnes, moved close in to the beach and being about an hour before low water it was only 5 feet deep. We dropped the anchor in beautiful crystal clear water with nothing but white sand all around the boat, totally sheltered from the wind and scenery to die for! What a stunning little spot!
We spent a lazy day in the sun (and in the water) before walking round this small unspoilt island with its tropical plants, no cars and Caribbean looking water. Predictably we wandered in the directing the Island’s only pub and enjoyed a drink overlooking the bay of this unbelievably beautiful spot. I already love the Isles of Scilly so you can only imagine how Canada feels about this place. Oh my god, OH MY GOD…….. etc etc etc
Fiesta at anchor in St Mawes, St Mawes from the shore, an evening race and Fraggle Rock Lighthouse
My view whilst moored up in Falmouth Yacht Haven
On the way to the to St Mary’s (Sarah dressed for winter), North Cressa Anchorage and the black patches of weed that hide the rocks!
The Cove anchorage at St Agnes
The view from the Turk’s Head Pub