Sully to the Scillies - June 2012


Saturday June 16th - South Wales to Falmouth

Sunday June 17th - Falmouth to Old Grimsby

Monday June 18th - Old Grimsby to Watermill Cove

Tuesday June 19th - Watermill Cove to St Marys harbour

Wednesday June 20th - St Marys to Helford

Thursday June 21st - Helford - Falmouth River - Helford

Friday June 22nd - Helford - Falmouth River - Helford

Saturday June 23rd - Helord to Falmouth to Home

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Saturday June 16th

  • 0930, three car-loads (including four boxes of cake) set off in the rain. Travel down the M5 through periods of sun and some vicious rain squalls.
  • 1240 Racehorse pub for lunch and a special treat - watching Wales lose to Australia on an iPad screen.
  • 1450 Falmouth Marina to find our two Bavarias MeGo and New Recruit. Then on to Asda for the two boats’ shopping loads which each cost, independently and spookily, almost exactly £274 despite the liquid-solid variation in the trolley contents. Same thing happened last year! Back at the Marina learn that MeGo has been aground recently, but keel-bolts are all present. Watch WhealGo leave for the sea where it’s been blowing up to force 5 to 6 from the West during the day. We opt to stay berthed, on shore-power all day, postponing departure and giving up the traditional sail to Helford in favour of an evening in Falmouth, and a direct passage to the Isles tomorrow ,
  • 1900 Dinner – Beef Stew and Merlot.
  • 2040 shore party leaves for Falmouth town, which is hosting a Sea-shanty festival. Main group dives into the Star and Garter pub behind the town gates. One crew member gets lost, and ends up down at the harbour to see the J-class yachts in port, and the two new Rick Stein eateries, and the various bands and spectators filling the beer tents along the tourist trails. Wind abating a bit, rain stopped.

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Sunday June 17th

  • 0600 wake to bright sunshine. Cereal breakfasts and filling of water-tanks. iPads confirm the printed weather forecasts from the Marina Reception - wind on the nose all day and lumpy seas.
  • 0650 away, with lifejackets on already. Pass a range of super-yachts and support ships in the Roads and Falmouth harbour
  • 0750 Helford abeam as we diesel our way on past the Manacles and Lizard at 5 to 6 kts,, pitching through the tide in Mounts Bay which forces a heading of 210 degrees in order to keep on a course of 270 degrees. New Recruit out of radio contact.
  • 1115 cupasoups and crisps. Sunshine but chilly wind; a long slog through the shipping lanes.
  • 1500 find ourselves on a converging course with container ship Albany, heading South. Albany is 40,000 tons bigger than us so we do a 360-degree to allow her right-of-way.
  • 1630 sight the cruise liner Minerva entering the Islands, as New Recruit takes the South route to Old Grimsby past the Hats buoy and St Helen’s pool, while MeGo opts for the North passage round St Martins.
  • 1800 both boats moored below the blockhouse ruins at Old Grimsby. Cooking for dinner starts, while MeGo launches its flubber, which is found to have no safety-grabline.
  • 1930 Dinner, Spag. Bol. with more Merlot. Boat rolling only slightly in light wind; cloudy but dry.
  • 2030 ashore to the New Inn, to find it’s occupied by the annual Tresco Triathlon teams, and a disco/karaoke provided by a very loud and partly in-tune band named “Noxious”. Do our drinking in the relative quiet of the beer garden. Three old geezers nearby are watching golf on their iPad; it’s obviously the year of the tablet PC..
  • 2230 back to the boats across a mirror-flat sea, no moon tonight. Oystercatchers are breaking the silence with a fair racket, but everyone seems to be asleep by 2350, after a long day.

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Monday June 18th

  • 0400 still flat calm under clear sky turning pink. 0600 brief rain shower
  • 0800 breakfast, full English. M. Comes over from New Recruit and is rewarded with a packet of spare bacon.
  • 1000 S. stays on watch aboard MeGo while others go for a ramble past Cromwell’s Castle and round the North end of Tresco, finding a new route round the crags en route to the Pipers Hole sea cave, which is inaccessible given the state of the tide. End the walk with a shopping trip for milk and postcards.
  • 1300 flubber back to MeGo in time to see NewRecruit leaving North on her way to St Mary’s.
  • 1400 lunch, ham and tuna baps with tea and beer. Take the engine off the flubber and tow it astern as MeGo also leaves the mooring, keeping a wary eye out for the Little Kittern rock which has done for at least one Cornish Cruising boat. Weather hot, sunny , wind F3 from the south.
  • 1500 sail round St Martins and on to Watermill Cove, getting up to 7kts with a reefed Main and Jib, in occasional F4-F5 squalls. Lively but so much more stable and peaceful than yesterday’s rolling slog under engine. A good sail, en route passing the Scillonian III inbound for St. Mary’s.
  • 1800 Drop anchor in the Cove, paying out about 25M of chain. Skipper gets the engine back on the flubber and mounts a rescue mission for a boat crew stranded ashore in the Cove. The story:- they’re from a yacht, anchored to the N of us, that’s come down from Scotland via Milford Haven. They went ashore to explore, and while out of sight the tide and wind took their [allegedly!] well-beached flubber off. Now it may be stuck on a rock in Scilly or on its way to the Isle of Man or Jersey; scanning with binoculars yields no sign of it .
  • 1900 joined by New Recruit, anchored inshore of us. Have a double dinner; mince and veg “antipasto”, followed by home-made lasagne. Still drinking the Merlot.
  • 2030 decamp to New Recruit for the nightly cards and cheese & port , via a look at the “Brixham Leader” sailing trawler, which has anchored to seaward of us. [ Postscript:-. Heard later that the “Leader” was dismasted in rough sea off Portland Bill the previous autumn and towed in by the RNLI.]
  • 2330 very dark, as MeGo crew depart in two flubber-loads. As the first starts off, a MeGo crewman still on New Recruit promptly takes the chance to irrigate the sea from the stern, just as the flubber helm loses his grip on the tiller, and accidentally circles back, under the golden spray. Much consternation, and hilarity from those still dry. On the return trip to fetch the rest of MeGo crew, the flubber loses its way and heads to the shore. Blame assigned to the pitch darkness, and not the port.
  • Midnight : boat a bit noisy, rolling at anchor as the tide sweeping past the Cove changes direction.

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Tuesday June 19th

  • 0900 full cooked breakfast on a dry, mild morning.
  • 1000 weigh anchor, bringing up a barrel load of kelp in the process. Away SE rounding St Mary’s and heading for Gugh under full sail. Breeze a nice F3 SW over a slight sea Low water due at 11.45.
  • 1110 turn N back towards St Mary’s Sound, destination the harbour showers. New Recruit heads off S for a trip round St. Agnes.
  • 1140 wind drops away on the approach to Spanish Ledge buoy, and the Scillonian overtakes us again in the Sound. Turn the Diesel back on for the last mile.
  • 1200 appoaching St. Mary’s pool, pass the Brixham Leader again, and another square-rigger, and skirt round a class of schoolkids in Wayfarers practising MOB drills near the entrance to the harbour. (None of the crew can recall schoolday PE lessons like that! )
  • 1220 tie up to a buoy next to the Islands’ launch “Meridian”. Time for tea and coffee in the sunshine.
  • 1300 expedition to the showers on the quay, followed by a trip to the Co-op, then the Post Office, and then the Atlantic. Spend a good time in the Atlantic to review logistical and navigational matters, which New Recruit join in with shortly afterwards. All caught on camera, including some shots taken by a kindly young Italian lady lured in to the performance by a crew member.
  • 1630 Some crew leave to bring the boats to the quay to fill the water tanks (on the rising tide). Others go off to photograph reindeer, and explore the Garrison hillside. When finally fetched back to duty they find that MeGo has been given a “Parking Ticket” for incorrect mooring. Console ourselves with tea and lemon cake.
  • 1830 back to the Atlantic for fish & chips, and more drinks on the patio in the sunshine. N is inspired to march round Peninnis Head. News heard - England (Rooney) beats Ukraine so topping their Euro 2012 pool. Talk finally turns to weather, and decision reached to leave for Helford tomorrow to be on the safe side.
  • 2300 turn in for the night after a nice hot day on sea and shore. Maybe “Today Was Summer” as they say.

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Wednesday June 20th

  • 0550 up for a cereals breakfast, breeze light under a clear sky.
  • 0700 get under way. 0710 stop again. New Recruit has pulled up to investigate a smell of burning rubber. We circle round slowly under sail while the culprit is found to be a burned-out engine fan-belt. Luckily there’s a spare which can be fitted. 0730 resume the passage, into a freshening cold E. breeze. dead on the nose.
  • 1000 bacon and sausage baps. Empty sky, only one plane and helicopter bound for Scilly seen all morning.
  • 1200 Pass the Wolf Rock light close on starboard, crew pretty relaxed about it. But wind is getting harsher and the choppy swell across Mount’s Bay slows the boats down to about 4kts. Now completely overcast.
  • 1300 Lunch on Tuna baps and crisps.
  • 1400 Light rain starts, and gets heavier, and the seas get heavier, and there’s concern over getting too far separated in worsening visibility. Round the Lizard some of the seas are about 3 metres, white-capped, and steep enough head-on to slow the boats to a near stop even on full throttle, forcing us to bear away from the wind and wave-trains. Before leaving the Lizard behind, New Recruit’s anchor is shaken loose from its cradle where the retaining pin has never fitted fully. It drops down the bow swinging and clattering on a metre of chain. They rush a foredeck team up and manage to retrieve the hook before it does any damage. Relieved comments – “thank God the fanbelt went earlier and not at the same time !” Blustery wind and heavy rain and rough seas continue all the dismal way past the Manacles.
  • 1830 finally struggle to within sight of Falmouth at which point the storm starts to clear, Turn into Helford mouth past a new Mussel Farm marked off by yellow buoys. Now we’ve arrived the rain stops, of course!
  • 1930 raft up to New Recruit, which proves a jerky noisy partnership in the wind and tide running this evening. Tea and fruit cake. Boats soon festooned in dripping wet-weather gear.
  • 2030 dine off a huge chicken/quorn Madras followed by tinned oranges, and figs for the brave. The wind whistling in the rigging mostly dies away by midnight. Obviously, yesterday had in fact been “Summer”, although technically the Solstice is tomorrow.

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Thursday June 21st

  • 0800 after a quiet night rise to a grey mild morning. The boats are covered inside and out with damp gear. Phone call to the Helford club to make a dinner booking for ten. New Recruit running short of water again.
  • 1000 both boats away under diesel in flat calm. Some periods of drizzle. In Falmouth Bay a helicopter is practising some operation with a tug.
  • 1100: turn into towards Falmouth, ogling the J-class boats tied up there. New Recruit fills her water tank.
  • 1200 a bit of breeze tempts the sails up and a return to the sea. 1230 rain returns, but the boat’s doing 5kts. By 1300 the Helm’s soaked but jubilant at getting 6-7 kts as the wind picks up fresh across the Bay.
  • 1330 overtaken by New Recruit also enjoying the gusts. Return to buoy 320 to raft up again, shortly followed by WhealGo which picks up another mooring. Lingering on deck proves a damp experience.
  • 1400 lunch on cupasoups and crisps again, followed by general crew snoozing and reading until it’s time to prepare dinner, which is chicken in red wine with spuds, with crushed pineapple dessert.
  • 2000 rain stopped; wind f4 W. Over to New Recruit for the nightly cards and cheese. Interesting evening. Two full hands are played out until their last rounds reveal an initial misdeal, voiding all the results. One hand marked by loud suspicions that one player’s “finding” a lost fiver is linked with another player’s lucky avoidance of a mega-point loss. During the evening New Recruit finds a shrimp in its Heads.
  • 2300 general retiring to bunks. It’s a breezy night still, but no sign of the Force 8 that has been forecast.

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Friday June 22nd

  • 0800 up to find the breeze is funnelling down the Helford at about f6 plus, but it’s dry.
  • 0930 boats away down the estuary, MeGo touches 4 kts under bare poles and no engine, in one gust.
  • 1000 Genoa up to give 7kts – 8kts running across the Bay before the breeze. Turn up through the Carrick Roads and take down the sails half way up to retain easier control. The Russian superyacht Alye Parusa Is still tied up in the river, and of course the Windsor Castle, but there’s a new hulk this year, the 22,000 ton Ro-Ro ferry Norman Trader, [ Later note: at one time it was the Holyhead Dublin Ferry.]
  • 1200 get onto the pontoon with a bit of struggle against wind and tide. Lunch, and clearing out of refuse, and inspecting other boats tied up, including a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter. During lunch we hear WhealGo back in Carrick Roads radioing Falmouth Coastguard to report a dinghy sailor who keeps on capsizing and may be in trouble. Hidden up the river we’re well out of that wind.
  • 1340 cast off and head down river. 1400 Turn back again ready to stand by New Recruit which has an engine problem at the pontoon . 1415 arrive at the pontoon to find New Recruit underway, engine fixed. 1430 pass the King Harry Ferry again, for the fourth time.
  • 1530 reach the Black Rock pillar; sunshine, but wind is f4-f5 gusting up to f6+. Still lively across the Bay.
  • 1630 tie up to buoy 320 with New Recruit joining us. Launch the flubber and start the trips to and from Helford club for showers and drinks. Notice a range of accents around the premises, from very posh yachtie to local; maybe HRSC membership is more inclusive than might be supposed.
  • 2000 back to the HRSC for food; a lot more fine-dining than the Atlantic on St Mary’s.
  • 2200 back to the boats for cards (no cheese left). Past Midnight before the card-game detritus is cleared away, and bunks made up, and MeGo crew gets to bed ready to rise to an 0700 alarm later.

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Saturday June 23rd

  • 0600 MeGo crew woken for tea – the alarm seems to have slipped forward. Cereal breakfasts, and then deflate and stow the flubber, Then start the cleaning and packing for the final trip, more leisurely than usual, because MeGo crew have a Whole Extra Hour to work with, lucky them !!. The morning is dry and cloudy, with a moderate breeze coming down the river. Smart-phones deliver news of the last stages of the final Oz-Wales test match, another defeat [20-19] snatched from the jaws of narrow victory.
  • 0800 get under way promptly, motoring out into the Bay, where there’s enough wind to fill the genoa, and push the boat at 4 - 5 kts. Round into the Fal we see gigs already coming out for really early practice.
  • 0930 edge into the marina fuel pontoon against the wind and outgoing tide. Diesel for the week comes to £100-46p for Me Go, (and noticeably more for New Recruit). Next, an hour or so of squeezing the boats back into the packed moorings, and unloading supplies, And for some, a visit to the Heads ashore, which as usual seem to have swaying floors.
  • 1045 finally start the car journeys
  • 1220 back at the Racehorse for another round of solid portions of good pub food.
  • 1445 Taunton Deane for a comfort break
  • 1530 finally back at the Pentwyn Church Road rendezvous, for this year’s farewells and luggage sorting.

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