Steve Webber reports on this cruise to the Scillies 3-10 August (2012)
Lunch-time on a sunny Friday seemed like a good omen when four of us – skipper Nigel Watsham, Mike Griffiths, Roy Cullers and myself Steve Webber – assembled at Queen Anne’s Battery in Plymouth. A leisurely lunch in the bar while waiting for the boat, Ocean Whisper – a Sunfast 37 – to be prepared was marred only by a torrential downpour. But by hand-over, the sun was out again.
Then it was off in a SWly F4 for a quick familiarisation sail to Newton Ferrers. Interesting approach using two sets of leading marks to negotiate the dog-leg. Tied up on a pontoon for the night, electing to eat on board rather than get the dinghy out.
Next morning, with the continuing SWly, we sailed out to the Eddystone lighthouse, then turned to head towards Falmouth. Sailing close-hauled on the port tack gave us the heading we needed, and we were able to settle back and relax for the next 30nm, watching the downpours happening all around us but never on us. Engine on and sails down as we headed up to Mylor, only for the engine alarm to go off as we were within sight of the yacht haven. An anxious half-hour sailing around on the jenny while we failed to find out why there was no cooling water coming through. Having decided that now it had cooled we could run it for long enough to get into the marina, it promptly decided to work normally.
A day of mixed sailing and motor-sailing with distant views of St. Michael’s Mount as we crossed Mounts Bay brought us to Penzance dock. Rafted up next to a much larger yacht which turned out to be operated single-handed by a 76 year-old. Just time to shin up the quay ladder, dash to the shops and replenish the beer supplies.
The forecast was for continuing S-SWly F4-5, so the decision was made to go for it. Out to Wolf Rock, then another long port tack, pausing only to put the 1st reef in, brought us in sight of the Scilly Isles. Wisely, the skipper decided to put the engine on early – no water again. An hour spent dismantling the inlet filter and impeller to no avail, then at the third time of asking it worked. Into Hugh Town harbour and pick up a mooring buoy, inflate the dinghy, and into town. Managed to find a restaurant with a free table before the deadline of 9pm, and enjoyed a welcome steak to celebrate our arrival.
A dodgy engine and manual anchor was agreed to make the option of exploring more of the islands unwise, so next day we headed back. While piloting the channel to clear the islands, we passed a tall ship on its way in – made us grateful that our rigging wasn’t quite so high. On a broad reach with a following moderate sea and occasional F6, we made good progress – the prize for speed going to the skipper who briefly achieved 9.94 knots with the 1st reef in. Into Falmouth and raft up for the night.
Off to Fowey on a calm sea with no wind in time for a cream tea and a glass or two of wine, then dine on board. Next day back to Plymouth, again mirror sea, no wind and sunny. A prize was offered for the first person to spot a yacht motor-sailing with a cone up, but of the many we passed, not one (including ourselves!) were conscientious enough to comply. We obviously passed the quick inspection by a naval patrol vessel as they didn’t board us, so back into QAB and relax.
An interesting week: several brief sightings of fins – possibly porpoises, enough light-houses to lose count, some drama and even some good sailing. But don’t assume that because an engine looks brand new and has just been serviced that it’s going to work!
All in all, very pleased to have made it to the Scilly Isles.
Quotes of the week:
Nigel – boats are better when you’re sat on a patio with a glass of wine.
Roy – you always do what the skipper says.