Sugar 'n' Spice – Weblog 3

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St Agnes, Isles of Scilly

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After a long weekend in Plymouth, which included the delights of a socially distanced pint outdoors at a local bar and take away fish and chips, the weather had improved enough to set sail for the Scillies.

On Tuesday 28th July we left Sutton harbour at the start of free flow through the lock.  Initially we sailed close hauled but the wind freed further to the north allowing us to sail to Coverack for an overnight stop at anchor.  Along the way we saw several groups of dolphins one of which stayed for 10 minutes.  In the anchorage at Coverack was the Hustler SJ32 Gunslinger a sister to Doug’s Rainbow.



On Wednesday a dawn start to try and reach the Scilly Isles around HW.  The wind was light so we had to motor most of the way but picked up a sailing breeze a few miles before the Scillies.  West of the Lizard there were a large number of anchored oil tankers which was presumably due to reduced oil consumption worldwide.

We managed to arrive in the Scillies at HW as planned and were able to thread our way over the drying sands between the islands to reach our destination at New Grimsby between Tresco and Bryher and were able to pick up a vacant mooring.



We had several visits from 3 Back Swans during our stay and they managed to persuade Sylvia to part with our bread supply.



On Thursday morning we visited Tresco by dinghy.  After a walk out to King Harry’s castle and back along the top of the island we had a drink at the New Inn.  It was well organised for social distancing and had opened extra garden space to sit on the grass, we then went on to the local stores to purchase postcards.

Back on board in the afternoon we had a slight problem when a new arrival Snagglepuss a Dufour 41 on an adjacent mooring behaved differently to us with wind against tide and we had to fend off.  Luckily we spotted the potential for a collision and were able to fend off without damage.  The Snagglepuss crew were ashore so we called the harbourmaster who turned up in his dory and towed Snagglepuss stern first away from us dragging out the mooring chain as he went.  He reckoned that somehow the mooring chains had dragged out along the seabed in different directions bringing the boats together.  The way he quickly got the boats separated suggests he is used to the problem happening.  Presumably the moorings are laid individually rather than the usual ground chain and short riser, beware!  We informed the Snagglepuss crew of the afternoon events when they returned but we hope they did not have a sleepless night worrying about the next turn of tide.  In fact after the harbourmaster’s intervention she remained at a safe distance until they left the next day.

In the evening we took the dinghy to Bryher where we went for a short walk before eating out for the evening for the first time this trip.  We had booked in advance because the Fraggle Rock café (pictured above on stern of Sugar ‘n’ Spice) is very small, with social distancing in force they only had room for 3 tables inside although they had more tables in the garden outside.  These would be at the mercy of the often wet and windy weather the islands experience.  The menu was limited but the food was excellent life almost seemed normal again.

On Friday morning a sea mist had blown in on a cold NW wind.  The NW wind was set to last for several days and get stronger on Monday or Tuesday making it sensible to head back to the mainland Saturday or Sunday.  Now the wind had turned from SW to NW we hoped we could use the seaward facing anchorage on St Agnes but to get there in time to visit the island that day we needed to make the passage at LW.  The passage to the south between Tresco and Bryher would be almost dry at LW so we needed to go north around the other side of Bryher and several shark toothed islets before we could get back into St Mary’s sound and on to St Agnes.  The sea mist had lifted a bit so we could see and identify the nearest hazards so we motored carefully out into the wind until we could bear away and set the genoa.

When we arrived at St Agnes the anchorage was almost empty apart from one French yacht on a mooring.  We have seen very few foreign yachts this trip only a few brave ones are risking being quarantined if Covid 19 increases again.  You ask yourselves who would enforce quarantine on yachts, Gurnsey are enforcing it and have never lifted it but in France and the UK enforcement would be at best sporadic if it is re-introduced.

We went ashore in the dinghy for a walk across the island seeing a few unusual characters along the way, real people were in very short supply.



We finished the walk with a visit to the Turks Head which has the most idyllic views from its patio.  We walked back to the dinghy via the sandbar between St Agnes and Gugh.  The sandbar protects both a NW facing anchorage and a SE facing anchorage which are used alternately depending on wind and swell.



Some swell did manage to get into the anchorage on the flood tide but it was calm during the ebb tide so the night was only restful to start with and not all the crew had a full night’s sleep.


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