Truro River

Last day of the cruise. Before leaving Falmouth, we refuelled the boat ready for next time, and motored up the Fal and Truro River to a pontoon mooring we had booked at Woodbury Point, near Malpas.

Spring Fever on the pontoon near Malpas
Spring Fever on the pontoon

The Truro harbourmaster gave us the name of a waterman who would take us ashore at Malpas. The ferryman arrived, but he was on the bridge of one of the tripper boats that go up and down the river here, dwarfing the yachts. He squeezed his bow onto the end of the pontoon and we then showed off how fit a month’s sailing had made us by managing to scramble over the sides with our luggage. We disembarked at Malpas, taxi to Truro, then a self-drive hire car home.

Our 'water taxi' berthed at Malpas - not quite what we were expecting
Our ‘water taxi’ berthed at Malpas – not quite what we were expecting

In summary: We had almost four weeks cruising, logging 880 nautical miles, from Ardoran, near Oban, to Truro.  If we include the commissioning cruise with David Fairhall in May the total comes to more than a thousand miles.

If one fact stands out, it is that we were extraordinarily lucky with the weather. After guessing at the planning stage that we would be held up by typical west of Ireland bad weather for at least a week on the cruise, we actually had only one forced day in port, and that was at Baltimore, after we had turned the corner onto the South coast.

What was best about it? The weather, for once looking like the pictures in the Irish Cruising Club pilot books, the company on board, the delightful places we visited, the friendliness (and absence of charges) in the harbours, the peace and quiet (seeing another yacht once or twice a day was an event) – all that made it one of the most memorable cruises.

Off watch - not often that you can relax like this on the Atlantic Irish coast
Off watch, Donegal – not often that you can relax like this along the Atlantic Irish coast

Bryher to Falmouth

Leaving the Scillies, Tresco in the background
Leaving the Scillies, Tresco in the background

Perfect still morning, but forecasts says weather deteriorating. Left across Tresco Flats. Sun and light breeze to Lizard and beyond. Mobile reception so good out here we were able to check train fares on the web, book a Hertz car by phone instead, and reserve a mooring near Truro by email, all during the 60 mile passage. Passed close to Wolf Rock. Reached up past Manacles. Rain as we approached Falmouth Harbour. Dinner on board at Falmouth Yacht Haven.

Passage notes:  log 68 miles, 11 hours, max wind SW 4, min calm, visibility excellent

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Early morning sun as we head out to sea
Wolf Rock
Wolf Rock
The Lizard
The Lizard
Falmouth Harbour
Falmouth Harbour

Tresco and Bryher

Jean-Jacques and Tony at Abbey Gardens
Jean-Jacques and Tony at Abbey Gardens

Ashore again to visit the famous Abbey Gardens on Tresco, and its museum of figureheads from wrecked ships, which is now overseen by the National Maritime Museum.

£12 to go in, but exotically worth it, because the garden is a display of plants from warm climates all over the world, which survive and thrive in the Scillies. I didn’t, however, see much that made me think I want that design or those plants in our garden. Many of the colours and plantings would not seem quite right in a mainland garden, even if they survived, or in the case of some of the more familiar plants, reached the size they do on Tresco.Round Britain 2013 244Round Britain 2013 253

Motored over to Bryher in the dinghy for lunch, with a foot or two of water most of the way, because it was low spring tide.

Clear water, white sand
Clear water, white sand
Tony and
Tony and..
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…Jean-Jacques on way to Bryher

Bryher is so delightful that we cancelled plans to go to St Agnes for the night and decided to stay on. A more relaxed atmosphere altogether. So different from Tresco.

The pub was simple and friendly, more a bar with a Mediterranean-style outside eating area. After lunch went for a walk, or rather a sleep at first, lying down on the soft, green ground of the rocky hill overlooking our mooring. Higher up, there was a ‘turf’ of a plant like a small heather or ling, which was so closely packed and firm that it fell like a smooth, thick mattress. A blanket would be all you would need.

Tony on siesta, Spring Fever in the distance
Tony on siesta, Spring Fever in the distance
Not quite Switzerland - Jean-Jacques on a peak
A long way from home in Switzerland – Jean-Jacques on a peak
New Grimsby Sound from Bryher, Spring Fever on the far left
New Grimsby Sound from Bryher, Spring Fever on the far left

Then a stroll round most of the island, a mixture of grand seascapes and islands out to Bishop Rock and tiny domestic hollows with walled garden sheltered by small trees.

Looking west on Bryher
Looking west on Bryher
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Tucked away cottages…
...and tiny fields
…and tiny fields
Informal sculpture - couldn't resist adding our own stones
Informal sculpture – couldn’t resist adding to it
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The Bryher pub is centre right

Back to the dinghy and the boat, for a siesta and a trip ashore again to the same pub for their burger night. We left as the band started playing. As the tide fell, the beach was giving way to boulders over which it would have been hard to re-launch the dinghy. Back for the final episode of The Killing – perhaps a little incongruous, watching a Danish murder mystery in an island paradise. Won’t give away who, just in case.

Passage notes: moorings (£15) in great demand and not much room left to anchor if miss one. Shelter very good, except from north.

Beach by the pub on Bryher
Beach by the pub on Bryher

MORE TRESCO AND BRYHER PICTURES

Getting the dinghy read
Getting the dinghy ready on Bryher
Tresco Flats near low tide, looking towards St Mary's
Tresco Flats near low tide, looking towards St Mary’s
Tresco flats near low tide, looking towards our mooring
Tresco flats near low tide, looking towards our mooring

 

St Mary’s and Tresco

Ashore for a walk, and lunch in a pub. Beautiful day, sun shining, children swimming on the golden beaches; what an extraordinary contrast with the day before.

Hugh Town, St Mary's
Hugh Town, St Mary’s

Went to the vicarage’s annual garden fete, a feast of nostalgia, with cakes, ice creams, books stalls, bric-a-brac, raffles, a Punch and Judy, an auction of meals in local restaurants (the bid prices ought to be a useful restaurant guide) and a treat in the shape of a band that recreated hits of the 1920s and 1930s.

The band at the vicarage garden fete
The band at the vicarage garden fete

The band was started after someone found a trunk full of sheet music from the period in an antique shop, and they have learnt to play it – not brilliantly, it has to be said, but well enough to create a delightful time warp that afternoon.

Motored gingerly across Tresco Flats, which dries at  low water, to New Grimsby Harbour, where almost all the buoys were taken. Found one free at the seaward end, near Cromwell’s Castle, and then nearly half a mile ashore for dinner at the New Inn. Great contrast with 15 years ago, the last time the weather allowed us to get into the Scillies while near. Much investment and a move up market from the pub I remember. Fits with other changes on Tresco, where a whole holiday village, also very upmarket, with its own restaurant, has been built by one of the beaches.

We walked over to Old Grimsby Harbour on the other side of the island, past many manicured holiday cottages, with cocktail party talk drifting from wine-sipping holiday makers partying in some of the gardens. (Another Rock?). Extraordinarily pretty, and flowers everywhere.

Old Grimsby Harbour
Old Grimsby Harbour

Made a mental note that Old Grimsby Harbour was an attractive alternative to New Grimsby if we ever came back this way, harbour being an exaggeration – a more accurate description of either would be anchorage.

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The view north from the mooring after sunset

Back to the boat to contemplate the sunset and then the penultimate Killing Series 1 – how out of date can you get.

Passage notes: There are two versions of how to cross to from Hugh Town to New Grimsby Harbour off Tresco in a keelboat, depending who you ask and what you read. When depths are marginal, there is a complicated double dog leg route shown, but most of the time there is a much  simplified version which has a single dog leg between two marks, when approaching Tresco Sound, without a subsequent detour. This was the route the Hugh Town Harbour master suggested. Details of pilotage are in the Cruising Association Almanac, Reeds and the Scillies pilot. Our old copy of the latter showed only the complicated route.

OTHER PICTURES FROM THE DAY

The harbour beach, Hugh Town
The harbour beach, Hugh Town
Tony strolls along the front
Tony strolls along the front

Quiet after the storm – the Scillies

The less said about today the better. One for those who enjoy surfing down the face of very large waves at 14 knots! You wouldn’t believe it from the photo of Hugh Town Harbour in the Scillies, as the sun set. The bad weather started clearing the moment we arrived there in the evening.

One scene that was unforgettable: before the wind got up, it was a night of the brightest phosphorescence, with each breaking wave crest shining like sparklers. Then a troupe of creatures came and played around the boat; or rather we saw fast-moving phosphorescent shapes, leaving behind them trails of underwater sparks with the palest of green tinges. They wove their way past, turned back and turned again, sometimes dropping deep and fading, and then surging to the surface, creating a shower of light whenever they broke through to the air. By the pattern of movement we guessed they were dolphins. What else would have followed a boat in this way?

Passage notes. Log 142, 25 hours, max wind gust NW 8, mostly 6 and 7, min SSE 2, visibility moderate, max wave height 3 to 4 metres, double reefed then reefed genoa only.  Reassuring fact: the North West Passage into the Scillies is a wide and clear entrance in a strong northerly wind, and with GPS or a chart plotter pilotage is easy. It would be far tougher using only bearings, because the marks are hard to make out at a distance in bad weather and there is a sharp turn to the east round the reefs before the approach to St Mary’s.

Just arrived in St Mary's Harbour, Scillies
Just arrived in St Mary’s Harbour, Scillies

Kinsale – leaving Ireland

Ashore for brunch, shopping and a walk up Compass Hill. Pretty views, stone-walled gardens and the imposing Officers Club above the bowling green. There is one large, empty, austere looking building left, which might just have been part of the 23 acre site, but it could equally have been a school, a hospital or a convent. Something to check out another day.

Empty building on Compass Hill, near where the Military Barracks was demolished in1922
Empty building on Compass Hill, near where the Military Barracks was demolished in1922
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The skipper of the day looking pensively at the weather as we head out from Kinsale

Fuelled at the other marina across the river (which ran out of diesel for the next boat) and set off for the Scillies at 1600. A bit of a risk, since we have a forecast of a northerly five to seven for the next 24 hours, veering from lighter mainly southerly winds, but at least it will feel like a downhill ride.

Passage notes: max wind to midnight SSE 4, min SSE 2, visibility moderate, rain, sea state moderate. Rest of notes, see next day.

Jean-Jacques seizes a quiet moment for a cigarette
Jean-Jacques seizes a quiet moment for a cigarette

Kinsale

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Chris at the helm on the way to Kinsale

Up early at Castletownshend, perfect morning, still water, the sound of water falling in the woods, birdsong, a heron on the rocks: made tea and slowly to sea, admiring the pretty sunlit village. Fast reach in sun all the way to Kinsale, past the Old Head, with the wind gradually rising.

The Old Head of Kinsale
The Old Head of Kinsale

Saw some old fashioned 12 metre racing yachts approaching, making to windward. Decided they were models as we suddenly realised they were just a few hundred metres ahead. As they passed, saw a head sticking up in the middle of each, and realised they were racing miniatures, not radio controlled.

Sailed past Charles Fort, the ‘star fort’ downriver from the town, and moored at the very hospitable but rather pricey Kinsale Yacht Club marina. Very friendly, good showers, a washing machine, wifi and an excellent bar and restaurant in their new building.

Peter off Charles Fort, on the approach to Kinsale
Peter off Charles Fort, on the approach to Kinsale

Walked with Chris to check out bus stop for the airport, and it was lucky we did, because it had been moved half a mile to avoid the regatta celebrations. Saw her off to Cork Airport and the clutches of Ryanair at 6pm.

Kinsale on its river, out of sight of the sea
Kinsale on its river, out of sight of the sea, with Compass Hill behind.

First visit to Kinsale. Checked out Kinsale Barracks on line, because that is where my father’s birth certificate says he was born. Both Charles Fort and what was called The Military Barracks, which I think was on Compass Hill (to check), housed the army in the days of British Rule. It turned out from web researches that the regular army, to which my grandfather Rodgers belonged, was at the Barracks. There was an implication in what I found that only irregulars were at Charles Fort. Could that mean the notorious Black & Tans? Grandfather was definitely in a respectable English regiment, the East Surrey.

Grandfather was himself born in 1879 at Buttevant in County Cork, site of a British army base, so father and son had Irish place names on their birth certificates. But we don’t know whether grandfather was an Irishman who went to England as a child and came back as a soldier (there are still quite a few Rodgers in the area, according to the phone directory) or whether his own father was also an English soldier stationed temporarily at the barracks in Buttevant.

The Barracks in Kinsale, which included married quarters and a hospital, was demolished in 1922 at the time of the Irish Civil War. I found a 1920s debate in the Dail about selling the married quarters for housing. The Officers Club building still exists on Compass Hill, with a splendid view of the harbour, but grandfather was a Regimental Sergeant Major, so wouldn’t have belonged. The only story I remember about Kinsale is that my grandmother held my father on her knees when he was a baby to see the Titanic set off from Cork, her last port of call. Dad was certainly born in a beautiful place.

Compass Hill from the marina
Compass Hill from the marina
Old British officers' club by the bowling green on Compass Hill
Old British officers’ club by the bowling green on Compass Hill

Text from Chris soon after midnight saying she was home safely.

Passage notes: log 34, 6.5 hours, max wind SSW 5, min SSW 2, good visibility, sea moderate

Castletownshend – an English village in Ireland

To pontoon and ashore again in Baltimore. Forecast 6 or 7 south west. Nervous. Don’t want more heavy swells and wind for a while. But outside harbour, which we left early afternoon, was sun and a force 4 all the way to Castletownshend, a pretty wooded estuary and village, reminiscent of Cornwall, with an English-influenced history to it. Picked up buoy on wooded bend of the river, beautifully quiet and sheltered, near trees. Ashore by dingy to Mary Ann’s, a gourmet pub, rather expensive, though nice. There was a children’s band marching up and down in the evening, part of the regatta celebrations.  A very smart holiday village.

Passage notes: 14 miles, 3 hours, max SW 4 (forecast 6-7), min SW 3, long 2 metre swell, sunny and good visibility

Chris as we get ready to leave for dinner ashore
Chris as we get ready to leave for dinner ashore
Castletownshend
Castletownshend
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Chris and Tony
The harbour
The harbour
The view up river from the mooring
The view up river from the mooring
View from the cockpit
View from the cockpit

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