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Scilly Sailing – Fabulous or Fearsome?

by | Feb 21, 2020 | Archived News (Live), Topsail Adventures News

White sandy beaches and gently waving palm trees - all set against a rolling ocean. Are we cruising around the Med, holidaying in the Canaries or cast away on a Caribbean island? No! We’re much closer to home in the wonderful Isles of Scilly. Loved and feared in almost equal measure by sailors throughout history, what is it that makes the islands such a wonderful (but nerve-wracking) sailing destination?

The Isles of Scilly (locals rarely call it “the Scillies”) are an archipelago of 5 inhabited islands and about 140 uninhabited isles and rocks perched 30 miles off the tip of Cornwall on the margins of the wild Atlantic. This position, slap bang in the gulf stream, has a warming effect making Scilly one of the mildest places in the UK, but with the Atlantic all around, the Islands can also be smothered in fog, or battered by gales and Atlantic storms and the weather is renowned for changeability.

Maybe it’s the changeable weather, the islands’ reputation for “interesting” tides, or the profusion of rocks hereabouts but for some reason the Scilly Islands do seem to hold somewhat of a bogeyman status with yachting folks. When lying in Falmouth – preparing for a Scilly Charter – we’re often drawn into conversation by fellow sailors musing about how they’ve often tried but never quite made it to the islands.

Of course we’re spoiled by having the type of boat that hundreds of years of traditional boat-building decreed as perfect for the seas around the Scilly. As a replica Scillonian Pilot Cutter Amelie Rose is designed from the keel up to handle the waters in and around these stunning Islands. Perhaps this is why when we arrive we usually find a warm welcome amongst the locals and the local old salts, a few of whom still recognise her heritage, are happy to pass on their knowledge of the island waters.

This has helped us to understand that whilst there is no single safe-haven; protected from every type of nasty weather, there is certainly a bolt-hole somewhere around the islands that will proffer a safe mooring from any gale. Armed thus – with our Pilot’s boat and our Pilot’s knowledge we have so far managed to enjoy all bar 4 of the 26 adventures to the Isles of Scilly that we’ve planned – and 100% of the voyages there have been successful since we switched to our longer 8 day itinerary.

The Isles of Scilly cover a mere 30 square miles and yet each island has its own very individual character. From the relative hustle and bustle of St Mary’s to the quiet of St Agnes there’s plenty of contrast to keep a holiday interesting. Indeed Tresco even manages to pack two very different islands into one coastline. The North is hilly, gorse-covered and might even be described as barren, whilst the South fairly bursts with colour and flora.

That this abundance is packed into such a small area and that the islands boast not a single marina is at the heart of what we find so delightful about them. A decent passage negotiated to arrive, followed by leisurely movement from one anchorage to another, soaking up the ambience of the islands, and benefiting from the relaxed pace of life here makes for the perfect holiday, and to do it all on a skippered charter without worrying about tides and pilotage is a complete delight!

Amelie Rose will be heading out to the Islands 3 times this year and at just £995 per person including travel to the islands, accommodation and all of the food eaten aboard there really is no better way to sample the Scilly experience.

Feel the urge to sample Scilly for yourself? Get on over to our Isles of Scilly Sailing Page to see our remaining availability.

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