Ever since I took the brand new Sealine F46 to the Isles of Scilly for a photo-shoot, I’ve had a hankering to go back. These beautiful islands, just off the tip of Cornwall, are about 3 hours away from Falmouth if you get a favourable sea and you’re in a boat that can happily cruise at 20 knots. Finally, a few years now since my first visit, the opportunity arose to go again. So it was, that we set off from Guernsey, aboard a Sealine F42, on a fresh but not too lumpy Sunday morning, to make our initial passage to Falmouth.
Isn’t it disappointing when you look at a weather forecast and it says the wind is going to be light and the sun will shine all day but it doesn’t? Well, that’s what we got. By the time we arrived in Falmouth the wind had really freshened, the sun had been replaced by clouds and the rain was building up to lash down the moment we stepped ashore with the mooring lines. Even worse, the near perfect conditions for the rest of the week had now become two days worth of lightish winds and F6 to F7 thereafter. In fairness, the rain never arrived and the sun did come back out for a while but our plans to stay a couple of days in IOS (Isles of Scilly) had to be adapted.
The next morning, after a superb evening spent eating fine food and quaffing even finer ales in Castaways, we were up early, fuelled up and on our way. As we nosed out of the harbour and moved up to speed, Falmouth coastguard gave a message out on the VHF, alerting everyone to the fact that there was some unexploded ordinance in an exclusion zone, which we had to keep away from and worse still, in my opinion, a large swathe of fishing net floating around, abandoned. What joy! Just what you don’t want to hear when your headed away from the Cornish coast in the general direction of America. OK, so I’m exaggerating, the IOS were in between.
An hour from the Lizard and we swept past White Rock. Actually, I’m exaggerating again. It was a little lumpy, with a F3 to F4 on the nose and we were actually only making about 17 knots but it was comfortable at that speed and by the time we got to White Rock lighthouse we were over half way.
There are absolutely loads of little bays and beaches amongst the IOS but other than picking up a mooring buoy in St Mary’s harbour, nowhere even comes close to being in a marina. So, if it’s protection from the elements, somewhere to plug into, running water and the ability to walk ashore you are after, forget it. This is a real adventure, for real adventurers and real adventures, so it turns out, involve getting a rib on and off a bathing platform that is going up and down like a whores drawers, spending the night rocking and rolling on a mooring buoy and waking up the next morning feeling like you’ve gone 3 rounds with Bruno! Do you remember the comment about weather not turning out to be what was forecast? Well, this, it seems, is what happened for the second time to us. We were supposed to be protected from the wind, waves and swell by the harbour wall. We’d laughed off the cautionary note about the harbour being awful in NW winds, on the basis that the forecast had it coming from the WSW. How were we to know it was going to move around to the North during the night? Do you know what was even more annoying? As we set off to return to Falmouth, the wind moved back around to the South!!
In actual fact, when we first arrived it was quite calm, as you can see from the shot of the Lifeboat above. We couldn’t wait to get ashore and as soon as the rib was off the back of the boat we wiggled our way through the moored boats and tied up in the dinghy park. Walking around the streets of the ‘town’ felt like going back in time. Everything was so ‘quaint’ and even ‘naive’. I saw a sign attached to the harbour railings and simply had to take a picture of it. Does anyone remember going around to friends for an exciting evening spent looking at holiday slides?
and this was a delightful moment captured, as someone walked up and leant their bike against the shop window…
The following day we were up early again and soon on our way. It wasn’t all that bad really and with the wind behind us we were whizzing along on our way back to Falmouth, the previous bumpy, sleepless night fast becoming a distant memory. It seemed like no time at all before we were ‘tip-toeing’ our way through the minefield of fishing buoys which appear to have been purposely laid on the track of any vessel navigating from the Lizard to Falmouth. Tied alongside in Mylor once again, we broke out the umbrellas and headed ashore for some lunch.
During the remainder of the day we relaxed and faffed about, as you do when you’ve got a little time to yourselves. After all, this was supposed to be a holiday. As most of you will have gathered by now, I’m a bit of a one for taking pictures, so I set to recording some shots of Mylor (one of my favourite stopping off spots) and the amazing calm we were experiencing. Worryingly, this calm suggested that we were likely to be in for something quite different the next day and this was to be the day we were heading off on our next leg to Dartmouth…
Yes, I’ve got a bit of a Black & White thing going on at the moment. I think it highlights the moody weather quite nicely, don’t you?
Wednesday morning turns up and the wind came with it. Happily, the sun put in an appearance as well and this was our chance to prove the theory that lumpy, sunny days are easier to deal with than less lumpy miserable days. One crew member disappeared off to catch a flight and Philip and I were left in charge of getting the boat to Dartmouth. Having refuelled the boat and having had a hearty breakfast ourselves, we nosed out of Falmouth for a second time and headed East for Dartmouth. It appeared that the abandoned fishing net was no longer a threat and the unexploded ordinance had been exploded, so our only concern was the frisky F6. On the basis that it was going to be from the North and therefore coming off the land, we anticipated hugging the coast and ducking into Plymouth if we felt it was too bad. However, once we got going, the ride was quite comfy and the biggest difficulty turned out to be climbing up the back of the larger rollers. You know, it did feel better with the sun out!
A bit bumpy around Start Point but then Dartmouth soon came into view and what a lovely sight it was. I do like Dartmouth: so much history and so picturesque. This really is a wonderful place to keep a boat.
We chose to go for Dart Marina, on the basis that the wind had some North in it and this would give us a flatter night on the berth but you know the way our luck has been running? The wind howled down the river, funnelled by the high sides to the river valley and as we approached the mooring someone turned the ‘full blast’ switch on. Good job we had IPS that’s all I can say at this point. Scarcely believable but true nevertheless, the moment we tied the lines to the dock the sun came out and the wind turned into a whisper. If I hadn’t been there myself I wouldn’t have believed it.
We had a lovely fish dinner that evening, in a place right on the front called Rockfish. Give it a try, I can recommend it. Strolling back I was moved to take this shot of a rather calm and serene River Dart – simply beautiful.
The next morning we left the boat, caught the ferry across the river and made for the train station – our Scilly Adventure complete, we now have to figure out where we’re going next. Keep checking in for Skipper’s Tips and soon I’ll be telling you what happens on the next leg of our journey.
Keep your eye on those dodgy weather forecasts shipmates,