Sully to the Scillies - June 2009


Saturday June 13th - Falmouth to Helford

Sunday June 14th - Helford to New Grimsby Sound

Monday June 15th - New Grimsby Sound to Gugh Cove

Tuesday June 16th - Gugh Cove to St Marys Sound to Gugh Cove

Wednesday June 17th - Gugh Cove to St Marys Sound

Thursday June 18th - St Marys Sound to Helford

Friday June 19th - Helford to Falmouth

Saturday June 20th - Falmouth to Home


Saturday June 13th

  • 0845 start on a sunny morning again
  • 1020, early into Taunton Dean this year
  • 1150 Came to a stop on the A30 ¼ mile from a junction with the B3257, in traffic backed up from a major RTA just visible down in the vale. Eventually the air ambulance flew in, first approaches stirring up huge clouds of dust, but eventually landed and took someone away. When traffic was finally allowed on we were redirected by police down the Liskeard side-road ( main A30 was still closed at 14.00) and found refuge in the Race Horse pub in North End. Very good food and friendly service, and their large damp dog no problem. Landlady a Geordie originally from Neath. Crew verdict, a better option than the old Blisland.
  • 14.00 found our way back by detours to the A30 and made Falmouth by 15.00, an hour behind schedule. Weather cloudy but still dry.
  • Shopping as Asda as usual; £480 total this year, for both boats.
  • Penryn Marina- gate code 9652. Interesting boat “Rudius”; signs of old-age, wear and tear all round the craft. Huge wheel about 5 feet in size, very hard to squeeze round. A’s usual starboard quarter “berth” turns out to be the rope & buoy locker. Damp enough to account for a dehumidifier parked inside it. Self-tacking jib on the bow, small but effective. Inside the cabin there are swivelling armchairs and an (apparently dead) TV set.
  • M. and his crew get the Polbream.
  • 1830 Away. Sails up most of the way to Helford, though wind on the nose from W.
  • A strange boat on buoy 320, so our boats raft up at another visitors’ buoy.
  • News from South Africa. Lions have won a game 26-23; doesn’t seem to bode well.
  • Dinner, excellent slow-cooked beef stew (RD), with glasses of S.A. red , 14% and rich taste – by coincidence from the vintners sponsoring the British Lions tour.

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Sunday June 14th

  • 0550 all up. Foggy, visibility less than 100 M. No wind. Not cold but decks soaking with dew. Cereals and tea for a frugal breakfast. Can’t find a 2B pencil anywhere in the chart-table.
  • 0650 off under diesel following Polbream. Fog thickens past the mouth of the Helford, but the sun is bright overhead, quite frustrating.
  • 0730 East of Nare Pt heading 150 at 4kts.
  • 0740 Tankers 5M to port. Foghorn audible off to the W.
  • 0800 pass the Manacles, clear the fog back into bright sun and a smooth-to-glassy sea. Vis about 10M. 0835 pass Black Head on our W.
  • 0900 caught again by a cold fogbank at 59.48N x 05.07W. Time for bacon rolls and tea.
  • 0940 Lizard Light due N. fog cleared again and bright sun. Passed a couple of yachts with full sail up heading E. Masses of strange foam littering the sea, not natural?
  • 1130 overtaken by Polbream, motor sailing. Cue to put our own jib up. Various mixes of sail and engine for the next couple of hours give us 4 – 6 kts at times.
  • 1400 finally stop engine due N of the Wolf Rock and have lunch in some peace. Then back to lumpy motor sailing, this time leaving Polbream well behind. Still a clear sunny day with a little more wind than expected. Round the Isles of Scilly to the N.
  • 1700 Finally tie up in New Grimbsy sound, with double warps on the buoy.
  • 1750 joined by Polbream to raft up. Apparently Polbream has been on autopilot most of the way from Helford.
  • Enjoy cherry cake (C’s) and tea. Followed by chillies and olives as aperitif, before dining on Chicken Chasseur and rice with Naan bread and a dessert of pears and raspberries. In the cabin shade at dinner signs of the day’s sunburning become more evident on crew’s faces. Harbour Master collects £20 mooring fee from each of us ( 25% up on last year!)
  • 2000 Clouding over but still dry.
  • 2100 visit ashore, R+C via the wartime steps, while B, A + S land via the harbour to dump bin bags. Rendezvous with Polbream crew for a walk round to Old Grimsby and the Church (Note from the memorial that 5 Dorien Smith family sons were lost in Flanders, and later at Normandy and Arnhem) To the New Inn for pricey drinks but luxury of a stationary lavatory. Learn that orange & tonic a good supply of quinine and protection against night cramps Another reason to drink G+T.
  • 2230 leave pub having missed a heavy, cold and unexpected rain shower. The flubber has become flaccid with the cold. Who can blame it. Motor back very gingerly to Rudius. Boats have all swung S. with the tide, - HW 2145. R and A to bed early, leaving the others to the cards and cheese in Polbream. A’s bunk mattress is thankfully quite dry after the day’s airing.

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Monday June 15th

  • 0700 short heavy rain shower.
  • 0730 all up for breakfast. Visit to Rudius from M. to offer their surplus food this evening. Seems their shower leaks, hence much bilge pumping in evidence this morning.
  • 0930 to Bryher for a clockwise walk. Caught by fierce squall of rain near Hell Bay hotel, run for shelter in a silage / composting shed. Very aromatic. Then on to Hell Bay Hotel for another sheltering, then finally hide from the next shower behind the rocks above Hell Bay itself.
  • 1100 back to the boats, to get the flubber on deck, and have jam tarts and tea.
  • 1200 Away N. round Shipman Head to head for the Bishop. Fresh breeze and big solid swells, boat quite lively under sail + engine. Conditions liven up, then get simply rough, as we pass the Crim Rocks and over Fletcher Ridge. Not pleasant. At one point A. in the cabin reading the GPS is swivelled right out of an armchair and onto his backside on the floor. (Who the hell designed this tub!) Polbream well astern catches the worst part of the squalls and has to break off, reef down and turn back up Broad Sound and St, Mary’s sound. As a result they reach Gugh Cove ahead of Rudius. Rudius goes West round the Bishop Rock and then via a wide detour S. (off the available chart), sometimes making 6 kts under sail. C. is on helm throughout, finishing hungry and tired.
  • 1500 drop anchor in Gugh Cove, N. of Polbream. Some French boats already in the cove.
  • 1530 salad rolls, tea and cherry cake
  • 1630 Napping for most tired crew, until about 1800. (1700, another heavy rain shower) Learned from radio traffic that a surmised “lost” craft “Sea Biscuit” has in fact just been diving off the Gilstone and not bothering to reply to radio. During the afternoon G. manages to catch 4 pollock in the Cove, fishing from the flubber. Oh Lucky Polbream crew !
  • 1815 time for the start of ‘This Year’s Really Interesting Event’ OR “The Gugh Cove Gremlin Strikes Again’. It seemspredicted a good time to reset Rudius’ anchorage against wind and tide later, so the anchor crew get on the winch while R. starts the engine for the necessary manoeuvres. Then in the middle of changing from ahead to astern the boat suddenly loses power and steering. The engine’s racing but the prop’s useless. The boat’s underway but not (really) under command in the middle of the moorings with a half-deployed anchor and at risk of grounding or hitting another boat. General alarm and calls to Polbream for help. Polbream comes alongside and a raft-up is decided on, as trying a fore or aft tow in the confined space might make things worse. By now there’s enough of a swell running under the powerless Rudius to complicate matters, and during one roll the main mast spreaders hit the end of the spreader on Polbream, and bits come off. Luckily the rigging doesn’t tangle and the boats are control at a stop, so we can investigate the cause of Rudius’ paralysis. Ferreting round the engine bay shows nothing, but eventually it’s discovered by taking apart the insides of the rope locker (A’s “cabin”) that there’s a cable linkage broken behind the panels. Repairs look beyond the scope of the tools and parts on board until G. decides that the spring from a clothes peg could replace a key piece of the linkage. It does. Throttle and Gear linkage works again. Magic. Afterwards join Polbream with some relief for dinner. It proves to be an excellent (non-Pollock) curry. Finally and gratefully to bed, musing over the thought - “what do Cornish Cruising’s other (more normal, less handy?) charter crews do when this sort of thing happens?”. It can’t just be us, can it?
  • 2100 Gugh Causeway covered, and with HW at 2300 the boats are rolling steadily. Glad that the anchor has been reset. Very cloudy, though breeze only about F2 -3.

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Tuesday June 16th

  • 0730 everyone up for cereal breakfast. Find that the Rudius domestic battery is dead so have to run the engine to charge it.
  • 0900 away, round the Spanish Ledges route to St. Mary’s Sound. Saw porpoises jumping. Into St Mary’s to raft up and take on water. Norwegian boat also at the quayside; C. recognises a connection with Moi Rana, where he once worked. Try using the water hose to rinse out the Head, only to nearly flood it. The shower pump is too slow to clear the water so Sam finally baled most of out by hand.
  • 1035 tea and cherry cake, in bright sun.
  • 1100 ashore to shower. Much needed hot drenching scrub, and only a quid for 10 minutes. Various shopping by crew then drinks in the Atlantic.
  • 1230 back to the boats, in relays loaded with Agapanthuses. Find B.’s phone charger alarm is sounding due to the flat domestic battery again M. is looking for superglue to mend Polbream, but has to visit shore again to buy some.
  • 1300 lunch tuna mayo baguettes, crisps and cup-a-soups.
  • 1400 B. goes up the Polbeam mast to fix the spreader’s broken end-caps. Brilliantly sunny day, hardly any roll at the mooring, and towels and sheets out on decks to dry.
  • 1420 Tea
  • 1430 Motor back to Gugh Cove . No porpoises in sight this time.
  • 1500 Anchor and take out the empty gas bottle. (Throttle and winch controls still working fine now.) Then to St Agnes to buy a new gas canister, since there doesn’t seem to be a second on board. £25. And a couple of Agapanthuses for B and C. Back to the Cove to watch an old geezer persuade a couple of women in swimsuits to brave the cold water to recover a moored Ribcraft for him, so he doesn’t get his feet too wet boarding it. We help a Belgian from an adjacent yacht launch his GRP tender, which looks as if it weighs about half a ton. Back on board to watch the sun set while eating peanuts, olives, chillies, beer and sherry, before dinner.
  • 1900 watch a group we assume is the St Agnes Gig crew jogging round the shores. Then watch the main evening performance, which is the St. Agnes-Gugh Fire Brigade ( 2 tractors and a water bowser). They cross the causeway in presumably a training exercise; then potter about (training) on Gugh, then drag the bowser back and get stuck in the causeway sand. They solve the problem by jetting off most of the water to lighten the load, which the tractor duly tows back to St. Agnes.
  • 2015 To Turks Head for dinner in the garden. Excellent Cod & Chips, Bass & Chips, Steak & Chips, and Bread & Butter Pudding dessert. Move indoors for last hour as the night chills. G. and K. have met someone from Pill in Newport. Learn that one of M.s uncles was long ago a customs officer stationed in the Turks Head before it became a pub.
  • 2200 back to boats; sea just breaking over the causeway and wind rising. Seven of the crews do cards and cheese (no Port tonight). Rudius lights are very dim because of the failing domestic battery. Wind noise is steady and strong, but the night’s dry with stars sparking and phosphorescence in the sea. Midnight all abed, except for one last trip outside to make fast the boarding ladder clanking as the boat rolls.

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Wednesday June 17th

  • 0330 Boat has been rolling as the wind has been building during the night. By first light it reaches a crescendo of creaking and thumping which got B. up on deck, and woke the rest of the crew. No danger found though.
  • 0430 Noise in Sbd quarter woke A. but proved to be just a dislodged fire-extinguisher. A. went on deck to see M. already up on Polbream deciding to weigh anchor and get out of the Cove.
  • 0500 everyone up in both boats, to stow the flubbers and retreat across the Sound to the shelter of St. Mary’s again. Luckily Rudius finds one remaining unclaimed visitor’s buoy. Joined by Polbream, who decide against rafting up in the rough conditions, and leave at 0645 for the safer shelter of the St Martin’s Daymark Cove.
  • 0700. Tea. Battery power so low B. has to start the engine to get enough power to radio Polbream. They confirm they’ve detoured to shelter in Watermill cove instead. Agree to make contact again at 1000.
  • 0850 woken by shouting and engines revving – Harbour Master checking up on a French boat rafting up to yacht Galatea moored behind us. A. unable to sleep so sat in the cockpit watching sporadic rain as the boat rolled in the wind. Moorings noisy and restless.
  • 0945 even more noisy radio traffic from gobby diving teams in diving tender Sea Biscuit and other boats, discussing whether to leave the Isles or stay in the hope of better weather.
  • 1000 All up, for a forecast of N. F6 now backing to NW F4 tonight. M. is planning to hide under the lee of Great Ganilly tonight if the wind does go NW. Wind is howling in St Mary’s with boats rolling and yawing at all angles.
  • 1100 very late breakfast of cereals, then sausages, eggs, bacon, beans, tinned tomatoes.
  • 1220 watch Scillonian arrive and dock in the F6 gustiness. Then crew sleep or read for a time (B. has fixed the previously dead TV set, but no-one wants to watch).
  • 1430 sky brightening to sunny. Sandwich lunch and cu-a-soups, while listening to S. Describe his experience of cruising in 300-foot boats. Wind is backing to W. and dropping a bit, as forecast.
  • 1530 get the flubber out to book a place at the water stations, before some French boats beat us to it.
  • 1545 radio M. to join us while B. takes over the job of sitting in the flubber to guard an empty buoy. He waits 40 minutes for Polbream to arrive, and then helps them to pick up the mooring at their 4th attempt. (Well, everyone’s knackered after last night).
  • 1630 Watch Scillonian leave. Tea and cake to celebrate B.’s return aboard.
  • 1730 a sunny fresh evening. A last trip to St Mary agreed, visit the Coop, walk round Porthcressa and Buzza Tower to the Western Power powerstation so B. can take photos like a trainspotter. Drink in the Atlantic; note lots of French crews drinking beer.
  • 1930 back on the boats to watch the evening Gig race won by Golden Eagle, followed by a veritable banquet of Spag Bol.
  • 2200 watch the [repaired] TV for news at 10 to get a weather forecast, of F4. Domestic battery is still horribly weak and the lighting barely works unless the engine’s running.
  • 2230 bed, to listen to the boat bumping and splashing in the chop.

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Thursday June 18th

  • 0530 on deck to see decks dry, sky 4/8 overcast, air cool to chilly, breeze F4 from W. and a spectacular sunrise like a furnace mouth behind Port Thomas, flooding the Garrison in a gold and green glow. The French boat astern has already left. Fishing boat SCII just leaving harbour.
  • 0615 everyone up. B. was up to see the St Mary’s lifeboat coming back in at 0350, it having left at 2200 last night apparently.
  • 0700 Leave the Gry Marita loading at the dockside as we get away followed by Polbream, crew dressed up for the worst. But there’s only a W. of about F3- F4, and a moderate well, so the engine stays on all the way across to Mounts Bay, helping the mainsail pushed out on Sbd side with a preventer on the boom.
  • 0900 Tea and bacon rolls.
  • 0930. B below for a nap. Polbream has gybed to S. and gone out of sight.
  • 1000 We gybe to Sbd tack
  • 1030 cross the path of the Scillonian travelling ½ mile to the N. of us. Sunny and dry. Still a rolling swell strong enough to make standing awkward.
  • 1045 passed the Wolf Rock ½ mile S. of us. Radio from Polbream, who say they’re ½ mile S.of the Wolf. But we see no sign of them clear to the Horizon. No sign of any other shipping either in any of the separation zones; very strange. The retaining bar in the locker above the stove turns out to have been unlocked in its brackets, and the locker door comes loose. All the jettisoned cans and bottles have to be put in the sink until the rolling stops, later.
  • 1130 Lizard coming up ahead, in bright sun. We have hammered across the Bay at about 8kts – 6kts plus 2kts of tide. Last couple of hours rounding into the Helford gives a cracking good sail, boat topping 6 kts with a reefed main.
  • 1830 pick up buoy 320 Aperitifs of beer, peanuts, crisps, followed by a large rich Madras curry, with dessert of fresh strawberries mixed with tinned raspberries.
  • 2030 card school for some of the crews. Grim News of the British Lions on txt. A lovely mellow sunny evening on the Helford moorings, just a bit spoiled by the wind blasting down the valley.
  • 2250, all turn in for the night , wind now dropping at last, been a long but enjoyable day.

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Friday June 19th

  • 0800 full cooked breakfasts with grapefruit to finish. Polbream borrows some Asda bags for tidying-up.
  • 0900 B phones Nick at Cornish Cruising to relay the story of the broken throttle linkage, the dud battery, the jib furling mechanism on Polbream that has been jamming, the water tank on Polbream that had been almost empty when we started; etc. etc. etc. Nick advises topping up the battery with bottled Spring water (no distilled available).
  • 1000 tie both flubbers up to buoy 320 then motor and sail round to the Fal. There are 7 tankers, 1 cruise liner, and what look like two dead hulks anchored in Falmouth bay. Have a storming sail up Carrick Roads, again hitting 6kts with reefed main. Nearly get rails awash at one point.
  • 1145 sails down and diesel up river, passing 4 UECC carriers, and 4 German bulk carriers, and the Windsor Castle.
  • 1240 tie up at the Fal south pontoon, to have lunch, and slag off Cornish Cruising. B and R try fixing the latest snag, a sail batten that’s sprung loose. Still a breezy sunny day.
  • 1400 finish lunch, take group photos for the souvenir book. And cast off again under jib + engine.
  • 1530 back to buoy 320, shortly joined by Polbream. Some crew off to HRSC showers while B. tries to help a nearby catamaran with engine failure.
  • 1730 pre-dinner drinks at the Ferry Boat, then into No 1s for the trip to HRSC and dinner.
  • 1815 dine on spicy tomato soup, Steaks, or Salmon or bangers + mash, or chicken, or mussels, followed by Crème Brule, or fruit, or ice-cream or gooseberry & apple pudding.
  • 2130 tide’s gone right out so M + A have to carry the flubbers way down the pontoon end to launch them. Rudius’ flubber gets dropped on its head but is OK.
  • 2200 back to 320 to find that the 43-foot Blue Monday has rafted up with us. Cards on Polbream until midnight; sky clear and starry, but decks already wet with dew by bedtime.

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Saturday June 20th

  • 0700 up to stow the flubbers and breakfast on cereals before leaving in a slight drizzle that soon clears up. The water is glassy calm. There’s lots of cake to eat up.
  • 0955 raft up at fuel pontoon. Diesel costs us £147 for the two boats. (136 litres) Pack the cars, in a style that must use a compression algorithm to rival jpeg. This time an uneventful safe drive up the A30, to the Race Horse for lunch. Excellent food and prompt service again.
  • 1330 under way again to the M5, and G. has the inspiration to tune in to distant Radio Wales, to get Eddie Butler’s quirky commentary on the 1st Lions Test. They’re losing 26-7. . . .! Then they make their comeback.... !. But it’s all too late. Pity. At least it keeps awake some of us who would have fallen asleep, ordinarily.
  • 1600 safely back in Cardiff.

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