The Scilly Isles (UK) voyage

Sailing To the Scilly Isles (UK) June –July 2016.

John Barclay

On the 26th of May 2016 I left Sydney with David Mathlin to join his new boat Peregrine 1 in Barcelona for a voyage to the Balearics, France, Corsica and Sardinia, finally leaving the boat on 13 August. That story is told elsewhere. In the middle of this trip I had a break I went off to Berlin then to Bristol in the UK.

I met Les Sutcliffe an occasional RANSA visitor and Peter Chambers on the train at Bristol on 30 June to travel to Plymouth and board our chartered yacht “Celtic Flame II” for an eight day voyage to the Scilly Isles, some 60 nautical miles West of Lands End.

Celtic Flame II, a Dufour 34 chartered from the GO sailing association awaited at Plymouth Yacht Haven. We were away by 1515, motoring into the gloomy afternoon with a brisk SW wind of 15-20 kts, more or less on the nose. However, it was sails up, 2 reefs went in and we were on our way, arriving Fowey in the deepening gloom at 2035 where we tied up to a visitors mooring opposite the town. The water taxi took us ashore where we settled at the pub for a traditional pie and chips in my case, fried scallops for the others, all accompanied by a pint or two of local ale.


 Celtic Flame II  John, Peter and Les at Fowey.


 The trip to Fowey 25 miles.


  Fowey Landing. Lights in the pub!

 1 July. Fowey to Falmouth. 34 nm. An earlyish start saw us on the town pontoon for showers at the Royal Fowey Yacht Club (visitors welcome;  £@ for a shower) and we were away by 1130. The sails went up with 2 reefs, a full genoa in rough seas and 12 -15 kts SW again on the nose. It was wet, rough and freezing but a few tacks had us in Falmouth harbour at the Premier Marina by 1930.



 2 July. Falmouth to Newlyn 43.5 nm. We departed  at 1300, shook the reefs out and were immediately hit by 15-20 kts SE causing the reefs to be smartly reinstalled. We  tacked to the  Lizard and then went due south to avoid the breaking 1-2 metre waves and over-falls off the point.  Then followed a tight reach across the bay to Newlyn where we anchored off the harbour at 2145 in the gloom. Dinner was on board. The view of St Michaels Mount the next morning  was spectacular.


 After an excursion to St Michaels Mount monastery we set off for the Scilly’s. The 5-10 kts NW land breeze had the asymmetric spinnaker out briefly until it faded and it was back to motoring the rest of the way.

 At least it was a bit warmer and I was down to wet weather trousers, jumper and hat. As we approached the Scilly’s we were butting an adverse tide and the resident “naviguessers” concluded there was enough water over the shallow banks to the north of the main island, St Mary’s to get to port faster. We had an interesting passage seeing depths down to 2.7 m. The course is shown below. We moored on a buoy in the tightly packed harbour in the late afternoon, blew up the dinghy and went ashore.





4 July. Hugh Town St Mary’s, Scilly Islands.


5 July.  Hugh Town to Fowey. 80 nm. We departed early in a light 10-15 kts S-SW which stayed in for most of the day, sailing past many famous landmarks;  Bishops Rock, Wolf Rock, Lands End, the Lizard and reaching Fowey in the dusk.


6 July. Fowey to Newton Ferrers, River Yealm 25 nm. Peter’s effort to negotiate a discount for our second visit to Fowey resulted in a “loyalty card.” We again visited the Royal Fowey YC, breakfasted and we were away to the River Yealm. The incoming tide provided enough water to clear the entrance bar but also caused a white knuckle ride down the narrowing river searching for a vacant mooring in the crowded anchorage. We finally spotted a pontoon with a vacant slot and I was very relieved to tie up having not hit anything or anyone.


7 July. Newton Ferrers to Plymouth 8 nm.

We dinghied to the far bank and walked to “The Ship Inn” (where else?) to celebrate our last night with an excellent meal and a few beers. It had been a fabulous trip only marred only by the boat leaking diesel into the bilges which Skipper Les uncomplainingly managed. We motored back to the Plymouth Yacht Haven in the morning, completing our 230 nm circuit to the Scilly Isles and back.


 River Yealm at dusk with the “Ship Inn”.

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