Dark Star Round the UK

SYC member Kevin Gilroy has written to update us of his further progress around the UK aboard Dark Star 

Saturday June 10th 2017 Newlyn Harbour

A dire day, rain, mist then more wind. Fortunately around 5pm I am able to get a stable TV picture and watch England play Scotland at Hampden Park - an exciting 2-2 draw.

Sunday June 11th 2017 Newlyn Harbour

A brighter but very blustery day. Walked along the seafront from Newlyn to Penzance and up the hill to St Mary's Church.

The website stated that traditional music was important to them and at 10.00 there was a sung Communion. I was a bit early but there was an organ already playing and I slipped quietly in. In the front pew were an all female choir of eight voices rehearsing a communion hymn with two harmonies. Unfortunately for the small congregation, I knew three of the four hymns and the fourth was easy to pick up. It certainly was quite high church, complete with traditional vestments and incense! They were very welcoming and friendly but I didn't hang around for the post service tea and biscuits since there was a bus to catch to Marazion.

St Michaels Mount

Marazion is about 4 miles along the coast and is the departure point for the tidal causeway which gives access to St Michaels Mount. The timing was good since the causeway was dry from 11.00 to 15.00 and it only takes about ten minutes to walk from the mainland. St Michaels Mount began as a Benedictine Priory on the same lines as its French counterpart Mont Saint- Michel in Normandy. Over the years it became fortified and ended up with a castle and was sold to the St Aubyn family in 1659. Remarkably the St Aubyn's still reside in part of the castle today, although in 1954 most of St Michaels Mount was given to the National Trust.

Round Uk june 11 June 17 2017 2Access not for the faint hearted

There are about a dozen rooms, including the mediaeval chapel, open to the public. However this is a National Trust property like no other Val and I have visited. The many steps leading pretty well 50 metre straight up, are very rough and ready. At the top, granite blocks lie around randomly and access to the castle door is over yet more uneven blocks. The wind came across the "path" in 30 knot gusts and visitors staggered with relief into the shelter of the castle doorway. This is not a National Trust visit for coach parties! I met an lady from Washington DC who related that this visit was not on their official itinerary for "doing Cornwall" and now she understood why.

Returned back to Penzance by bus, walked to Newlyn, called into Aldis and by 16.00 a chicken is roasting nicely in the oven.

Monday June 12th 2017 Newlyn Harbour Blustery and chilly but it looks as if escape is possible tomorrow with a sail to the Scillies. In the morning, some young lads turned up at Dark Star to say hello. They were fishermen from Fraserbugh and like me were stuck in port whilst conditions were bad. They were employed on two boats, fishing for prawns. I was amazed that they had come so far south in the search of prawns. They were very complimentary about the Newlyn harbour authorities who "Cannae dae enough for us". They usually fish for about a week and return to land the prawn catch at Newlyn, where it is loaded straight onto a lorry and driven 730 miles north to Fraserbugh for processing! They insisted there were no alternative facilities for processing the prawns....

Most of the day was spent getting ready for crossing to the Scillies and included another visit to Penzance Leisure Centre and swimming pool. Need to get my moneys worth out of those swim shorts.

Tuesday June 13th 2017 Newlyn to St Mary’s in the Scilly Isles 39 miles.

At last the wind has gone and a fine day dawned. Said goodbye to Dave the "night-watchman" and slipped from the harbour at 11.00 hours onto a flat sea. Once past Mousehole, the swell came rolling up from the the direction of Lands End. Main sail raised, pulled in tight, engine on at 2,500 revs, and off we rolled on a course of 255 degrees for the next thirty odd miles. With the tiller pilot steering, it would have been nice to have had a sleep and set the alarm for six hours later when the Scilly Isles should be in easy sight.

Unfortunately there are lobster pots and nets everywhere, mostly well marked with orange buoys, but they cause constant changes of course.

Keeping out of the way of the big ones

Then there is the traffic separation zone. All shipping leaving and arriving at UK and European ports must use these one way separations systems as they enter the "English" Channel. Departing ships travel west on the lane on UK side and arriving ships travel east on the other (or French) side. Small yachts must cross the separation lanes as quickly as possible, as right angles to commercial shipping. Judging speeds of these large ships is tricky, but the golden rule is don't get in the way and if in doubt slow down and always pass behind the commercials.

Round Uk june 11 June 17 2017 4Scillies in Sight

At 16.00 the fabled Scillies hove into sight, pretty well where they are expected to be. By 18.00, Dark Star is tied up to a large visitors' buoy in the harbour at St Mary’s, the largest if the Scilly Isles. It is amazingly busy. There are forty visitor moorings and nearly all are taken by 20.00. French flagged yachts out number the rest. The moorings in St Mary’s are safe but they are not comfortable. The harbour breakwater gives inadequate protection to the persistent swell which rolls in at high tide. Yachts sway from side to side so that anything not tied or fastened down tight within the cabin, bangs, knocks or rolls about. The only way to get ashore is by your own rubber dinghy, so visiting toilets or showers needs forethought and planning.

Wednesday June 14th Uncomfortable St Mary’s, Scilly Isles

Decide to explore St Mary’s and Hugh Town which sit on a narrow neck of land. On one side is St Mary’s Harbour and on the other the lovely beach and bay of Porth Cressa. There are mooring buoys in the Porth Cressa bay but most yachts appear to be using their own anchors. Its a most attractive spot, much nicer than St Mary’s "harbour" but it offers no shelter from southerly winds. Harold's grave

Round Uk june 11 June 17 2017 5The plan was to climb up to the highest point on island for a panoramic view, but the coastal path, after promising an upward trajectory, meandered up hill and down dale over some wonderful scenery before depositing me in "Old Town". This was the original, busy medieval port of the Scillies but it's a backwater now. However I did come across former Prime Minister Harold Wilson's grave. Remember Wilson back in the 1967, the day after the Labour Government devalued the pound, declaring on TV, gesturing with his pipe, that devaluation "does not mean that the pound, here in Britain, in your pocket or bank has been devalued". What a mess we were in back in the 1970's. After last week's election results let's hope we are not headed back to the 1970's.

The wind has increased and backed to the north west. St Mary's visitor moorings are unprotected from the swell driven by the increasing wind. Yachts are again pitching and rolling at their moorings. I had intended to clear out and head for New Grimsby Sound which lies between the islands of Brymer and Tresco. Unfortunately New Grimsby Sound is only accessible close to high water at 21.30. The course to follow looks a bit tortuous and I chicken out as conditions worsened and the light fades.

Thursday June 15th St Mary’s Scilly Isles

It was a restless night and still the swell rolled in. I didn't think it was safe to use the dinghy to go ashore, but plenty visitors made the effort. Watching yachtsmen and women, no longer young, making the hazardous transfer from pitching yacht to bouncing dinghy was heart stopping (theirs and mine).

The water conundrum of St Mary’s

By lunchtime conditions had eased and I went ashore to find the panoramic view which was missed yesterday and to replenish water rations. Filling up two plastic water containers involved obtaining an old pound coin from the harbour office for the service bollard, discovering that the position of the water tap on the bollard made it impossible to place a container under the tap, and returning to Dark Star to find a piece of hose before I could finally fill up.

Only the public toilets are available for visiting yachties and there are just 3 showers which also require an old style pound coin. The harbour wifi system is so bad that my the phone declares it "too slow for use". For visiting yachts, St Mary’s harbour is probably best described as "dysfunctional".

At last managed to find a grand viewpoint above the Star Castle Hotel and find the only supermarket on the island, a very well stocked Coop. Return to the "harbour" to find the wind is back and increasing, still from the north west.

Thursday night, with the wind blowing force 5/6, is very uncomfortable. As the swell rolls past, the boat and its large mooring buoy get out of sync and Dark Star is regularly brought up with a bang, shaking the rigging and making sleep pretty well impossible.

Friday June 16th St Mary’s to New Grimsby Harbour, Tresco, Scilly Isles.

By 08.00 the wind is definitely easing and I clear out of St Mary’s "harbour" as soon as the tide allows, for the short trip over to New Grimsby harbour and Sound. The passage over the stretch of drying sands is not as tricky as expected and I strike lucky, tying up to the buoy nearest to the pier on Tresco. There are no marinas of any kind in the Scillies and to provide electricity. It takes a wee while to set up the new 100 watt solar panel and 100 amp battery which delivers 240 volts via an inverter for the cool box, electrics and the TV! New Grimsby harbour is basically a small bay with a pier. The visitors' mooring buoys are outside the harbour, which largely dries at low tide. It is a remarkably peaceful and attractive place, especially in the sunshine.

Going ashore involves pumping up the dinghy, launching it with the outboard, then wading through the shallows to land on the destination sandy beach. Dinghy and outboard need to be humped up the beach to stop the returning tide carrying them away.  Feet need to be dried and freed from sand before insertion into walking shoes – all worth mentioning in case you thought life was easy in paradise,

Something odd about Tresco?

It turns out to be a breezy but beautiful day and a walk around the east and north coast of Tresco produced stunning views. Returning back to New Grimsby, Tresco Stores proves an unexpected "find". A surprisingly good, upmarket little supermarket. Certainly won't starve here.

The Emperor

There is something odd about Tresco with its little chalets and low style bungalows and apartments, filled with visitors. Apparently the whole island is a time share development! The Dorrien Smith family have leased Tresco from the Duchy of Cornwall since 1830 and the family still run the island entirely privately under the  Tresco Estates banner. The time share concept has been developed over the past 30 years but it's pitched at "yer toffs" end of the market. It's free from any crime and a very safe place for children. All cafés, the one hotel, the boat services and the supermarket are run by the Dorrien Smiths whose founding ancestor was nicknamed "The Emperor". Robert Dorrien Smith presently lives in Tresco "Abbey" which is surrounded by the famous Tresco Gardens, a big tourist attraction. Tresco estates employ an army of young migrant workers each summer. In the Ruin Beach Safe, a young man from Portugal served me coffee and the girl on the till came from Hungary.

Saturday June 17th  Bryher - an island of independents

What a glorious day, hardly a breath of wind and the sound between Tresco and Bryer is a millpond. I take the inflatable dinghy over to Bryer and land on the beach at Green Bay where several yachts with twin keels have dried out as the tide falls. This is was my original destination until the fright I received when dried out in St Ives. Green Bay is much more sheltered and provides free anchoring/drying out. I set off over bits of road, but often, just tracks, and end up at the Hells Bay Hotel. It's an upmarket establishment, quite a surprise on this rufty tufty island, but a very nice cappuccino was enjoyed in elegant surroundings (anything is elegant after a yacht). A youngster from Australia made the coffee and a girl from Ireland served it. It turns out that this hotel is owned by the Dorrien Smiths.

Island Fish

Next call (as instructed by Sussex Yacht Club grandee Tony Curtis), was a visit to Island Fish where a family business provide fresh lobster and crab at very reasonable prices. I fancied a crab quiche but it was still in the oven and would take another 20 minutes. Next door was the Vine Café, the very place to pass the time. However the ambience in these establishments was very different from those in Tresco.  Private houses, holiday accommodation, cafés, all retail businesses (except the Hell Bay Hotel) are independently owned. The Dorrien Smith empire is held proudly in check by these local people. The Vine Café has been owned by the same couple for some 25 years. They reckon they got the lease because they had 4 young children to swell the roll at the tiny primary school! Their cheese scones are home made and delicious, so scoffed one and took a couple away. Back at Island Fish, my crab quiche is ready. The lady running the shop had taken her history degree at the Falmer Campus of Brighton University. Small world.

No Crime?

Walking back to the beach where I had left the inflatable dinghy plus outboard, the thought occurred that leaving them unattended on a south coast beach would result in the disappearance of the outboard engine. Had they been left on any of the Caribbean Island beaches we had visited, the inflatable would have disappeared too!

Join us in Green bay

On the beach a helpful sailor offered to help carry my dinghy and outboard down to the water since the tide had receded quite a long way. He had a MacGregor 26 (complete with sails and a 60hp outboard engine!) beached well up on the sand. Another owner drove his twin keeled yacht on to the beach and jumped ashore. A long conversation ensued and they insisted that I bring Dark Star from her mooring on the other side of the Sound, to join them. However the forecast is for fairly strong easterly winds from Monday to Wednesday which makes Green Bay a lee shore and somewhat exposed to wind and swell. Alas I think my present mooring would be safer and more comfortable when it starts to blow.

Since the wind is from the east, I could be "stuck here" till next Thursday/Friday. Oh dear! Thanks for reading this. 

Following originally published to the SYC website 6 June 2017

Saturday May 28th Milford Haven

It's cold and windy, but tomorrow there appears a one day weather window for the 70 odd mile dash to Padstow. It will be my longest single handed sail to date and for the most part will be some 20 miles out at sea, with no sight of land - and no mobile signal. In the circumstances I decided to contact Milford Haven Coastguard to file a passage plan... just in case.

At 19:30 after watching Arsenal beat Chelsea in the Cup Final, I left Milford Marina and motored six miles down to the Dale anchorage (again) and spent the night at anchor. Found some barbecued spare ribs (excellent!) from the Tesco special offer counter and washed down with a Cobra, it is a satisfying finish to the day.

Sunday May 29th Dale Anchorage, Milford Haven to Padstow - 72 miles

Awake and moving by 04:30 only to find dripping mist and fog has again descended and the weather forecast spoke of thunderstorms over the Padstow destination by 16:00. The fog is not as bad as the previous Wednesday and I can just about see across the main shipping channel. The forecast thunderstorms are a concern but "fortune favours the bold" so up came the anchor and off we motorsail into the mist, with one reef already in the main sail. Time 05:15.

It's a bit over 70 nautical miles to Padstow and sailing at 5 knots gives a journey time of some 14 hours which should put me in Padstow Bay around 19:30. Tidal access to Padstow Harbour is between 19:00 to 21:30. Within a mile Milford Haven had disappeared in the mist and sailing some 20 miles off shore, I did not expect to have digital connection for about 10 hours.

Last year a new Simrad autopilot had sounded sick for most of the trip and the suppliers replaced it. The "new" Simrad is hooked on to the tiller and steers admirably in a lumpy swell with little wind. It is not very comfortable but soon a breeze picks up, from the north east, just on my port (left hand) beam. I could not ask for a better direction. The genoa (fore sail) is unrolled and we are off on one single tack, on a course of 175 degrees, for the next 70 miles.

Around 08:15 the mist lifts and the sun comes out. The sea changes from an unhappy grey to a Caribbean blue. Maybe "fortune does favour the bold". However the tide is against for the first few hours and best speed is only 4 knots, too slow to make the high tide at Padstow.

Round Uk May 28 June 3 2017 2Some 4 hours into the trip, around 09:30, the tide turns and 5 knots then 6 knots appears on the log. This should ensure access to Padstow, but the tide will turn against for the last three hours of the journey. As Dark Star is really whooshing along (you do get a whooshing sound at 6 knots!) I hear a splash on the port side. Thinking something had dropped over the side I pop up from the cabin find a pod of dolphins all around Dark Star. On my way round the UK I had been often promised dolphins, especially in the Moray Firth approaches to Inverness. Never a fin did I see, but for the next nine hours I had dolphins riding alongside Dark Star.

I have no idea of the size of the dolphin population in the Bristol channel and beyond but various dolphins, big and small, in pods, sometimes in pairs or singly, just keep appearing. Whistling seems to encourage them but what really attracts and brings them right up close, is banging my hand on the side of the hull. It is quite an experience. Apart from the dolphins I never see any sign of life, another yacht or even a fishing boat, until I enter the Padstow approaches.

The wind increases with force 5 gusts (20 mph) but it's still from the favoured north easterly direction and I put another reef in the main to make things more comfortable (less heeling over). The dolphins are still around at 15:00, but coming over the horizon (as forecast) is some nasty looking weather. I can't believe there will be thunderstorms - it's just not warm enough! Torrential rain strikes - but no thunder. The rain is gone after an hour and by 17:00 I am on the final run into Padstow Bay with a forecast arrival of 19:00 -perfect. 72 miles in less than 14 hours - not bad for a heavily laden, 27 foot, 40 year old bilge keeler (that's the boat not the owner).

Padstow harbour does not reply on the radio. It's Bank Holiday weekend but harbour "staff" seem to have disappeared and I gingerly potter down the narrow approach. One last try by mobile phone finds a response. "Go through the open lock gates and find a space on the north quay wall". It is 20:00 but the harbour quayside is still packed with holidaymakers. As I struggle to tie up, a boy insists I tell him the nautical name of the securing rope. He is very polite but is very close to ending up secured by the rope. I need a good sleep to restore equilibrium.

Round Uk May 28 June 3 2017 3Monday May 30th Padstow Harbour

A rest day today. The weather is poor and very misty, but it's not raining. In Padstow harbour you are part of the entertainment. Holidaymakers stroll past on the quayside, free to peer down into the yachts. Youngsters lower crab lines between the boat and the harbour wall and their lead fishing weights bang against the hull.

Being a bank holiday, the town is jam packed. By 10:00 the car parks are full and queues are forming at the cafés. Lord knows how many Cornish pasties are being consumed. I cant wait try one, but it's disappointing, mass produced, definitely not locally baked. However in the narrow back streets there are a couple of shops promising "baked here daily on the premises" so I will try to erase the disappointment tomorrow.

Without decent weather, the very attractive nearby beaches lose any appeal and parents are wandering around with less than impressed children. Padstow has no amusement arcades or children's fairground. There is the National Lobster Hatchery but the awful smell emanating from the large building suggests the lobsters may have died rather than hatched. Rick Stein the celebrity chef appears to own most of the food outlets and is offering a three course lunch for £40. A man with a very loud voice is promising speed boat rides. The boats fill readily, speed off and disappear into the drifting fog. The punters can't see anything out there and possible hypothermia is part of the "fun". Tomorrow, Tuesday, looks another poor weather day, but there looks to be a weather window coming on Wednesday and Thursday.

Round Uk May 28 June 3 2017 4Tuesday May 31st Padstow Harbour

Last night on the high tide, more boats entered the harbour and had to raft up against boats already tied up to the quayside wall. The occupants of the rafting boat must walk across the foredeck of the "host" boat to get ashore. The couple in the boat now attached to Dark Star appear to wear hobnailed boots and spend their time endlessly wandering back and forward. The male is elderly, older than his partner and has obvious problems with balance. He looks an accident in waiting. I discretely put the lifesaver horseshoe buoy near at hand, in the cockpit.

The day turns out windy, but better than forecast and crowds soon throng test he quayside area. It's remarkable - crabbing seems to be a national pastime. As soon as one family give up their quayside position, a second lot appear almost instantly, heaving in leaded crab lines with the ubiquitous nets filled with bits of bacon.

Wednesay May 31st Padstow to St Ives 40 miles

The gates on the lock at Padstow harbour did not open until 9:30 but I am in no hurry to leave since arrival at the next destination, St Ives, in around 7/8 hours would find that harbour completely dried out at low tide. The trip started off nice and quietly so that rounding Trevose Head, it is possible to cut the corner and sail between The Quies rocks and Trevose Headland. Thereafter the wind settles into the south blowing 15/20 mph, which means a hard motor sail with two reefs in the main.

Round Uk May 28 June 3 2017 6At last at 17:15 St Ives Bay appears through some gloomy weather. The bay is strewn with pot buoys and nets. No way could you enter this place in the dark. There are allegedly two large yellow visitors buoys in the bay but I can see no sign. I pick up what turned out to be a pretty flimsy mooring only to be warned off by a "friendly" local. There is one other yacht nearby which appears to be anchored. From it comes a strong Scottish bellow to “Come alongside”. The yacht was yet another Moody (Moody 33 "White Lady") and is not anchored but tied up to a large buoy normally used by the lifeboat which is ashore. The helpful skipper came from Edinburgh and attended my old school, Holy Cross Academy!

There's not much time for pleasantries since White Lady is off to Wales, sailing through the night with a crew of four. I tie up to the huge lifeboat mooring whilst the crew from White Lady point out two small, flat top yellow, visitors' buoys which have "handles" on the top and which they had failed to pick up after several attempts! I spent an uncomfortable (bit rolly), night attached to the lifeboat buoy but it's too dark to move when the high tide allows access to the inner harbour.

Round Uk May 28 June 3 2017 7Thursday June 1st St Ives Harbour

At 10:00 I drop the lifeboat mooring in the bay and head into St Ives inner harbour with the high tide. There are three visitor's moorings in front of the "esplanade", all unoccupied. I pick up the a buoy, find a confusion of ropes but with the help of a more friendly local, it becomes clear that fore and aft moorings are attached to a single buoy! Slowly Dark Star is left high and dry as the tide drops but with some worrying bangs as Dark Star's twin keels settle and "bounce" on the sand before settling solidly aground. I drop down to the wet sand, splash through the rivulets and find the "Harbour Office". The only facilities on offer are public toilets and water but £15 cash covers two night's stay. For the tourist and visitor, St Ives turns out to be very much more attractive than Padstow. I find the "original and best" pasty shop and hand over £4 for a monster pasty, allegedly full of prime steak.

Near disaster strikes

Back on board, I am barely able to finish the pasty, but it makes a tasty dinner. I watch visitors strolling over the sand to watch the incoming tide. Kids are playing in the surf. Surf? This does not look good. There appears to be quite a ground swell behind the rising tide. My apprehension is also rising. Before Dark Star is fully afloat, the waves will lift and drop the boat on the hard sand, putting great strain on the solid iron keels, but it's the exposed skeg and the glass fibre rudder which are most at risk. A broken rudder or skeg in this holiday outpost means this trip is over.

Round Uk May 28 June 3 2017 8For twenty horrible minutes, Dark Star is lifted and dropped by the rising water and waves. Every blow on the sand shakes the mast and rigging. There is absolutely nothing I can do to help. Eventually around 22:00 Dark Star is fully afloat. It's dark but I decide to clear out of this place right away, since this performance will be twice repeated at the next low (03:00) and high (11:00) tide.

Is there any water ingress?

First I check the bilges to see if any water has entered the hull after the pounding. All seems dry so I head out into the darkness of the bay to either anchor or find a mooring. The lifeboat buoy to which I secured last night, has fluorescent markings and thankfully glints in the light of my searching torch. I gratefully tie up. Right away I hastily turn out everything in the port hand bunk space to gain access to the skeg securing bolts. There is a little water around the three bolts but it does not taste salty. If these bolts have been compromised, the trip is over! Heart in mouth, I dry up the water and look for seepage around the bolts. After a long five minute wait, it's all dry. I bless Brian Meerloo and his Cobramold workers who built Dark Star back in 1978. They produced a very tough boat. There is usually a little rain water in that area, which finds it's way down the rudder tube. I phone Val who had rung earlier in the middle of the mayhem. I assure my wife all seems ok and I am still afloat. Sleep was difficult as Dark Star rolled and pitched on the mooring in the bay. Still jangling from the near disaster, I consult XC Weather forecast for today (4G from EE is excellent). A north west 4/5 is forecast but one website is predicting a swell of 2.5 metres. I cant' stay here in St Ives and decide to tough it out at sea and head down the north Cornwall coast. There are no harbours of any kind on this inhospitable coast which stretches down to Lands End. Some 37 miles distant, Newlyn harbour is the closest on the mainland.

Friday June 2nd St Ives to Newlyn 37 miles - What happened to the Scilly Isles?

It's a miserable morning, raining hard but the rain is to clear after 14:00. I can't leave until 11:00 to make the best of the ebbing tide, so I sit and sweat. The north west wind should be on the beam for much of the trip and I intend to carry straight to the south from Lands End and head 20 miles to the Scilly Isles. For probably the hundredth time I consult the weather forecast, Oh no, gales and strong winds, gusting 50/60 mph for at least 5 days, are expected, starting Monday! There are no marinas in the Scillies. You drop anchor or rent a mooring buoy, but the only way off the boat is by rubber dinghy. With high winds, you can effectively be imprisoned on the boat!

The only sensible decision is to head for Newlyn Harbour with it's 24 hour, deep water marina. I head out into the rising wind and waves to leave St Ives Bay. It's a hard motor sail with two reefs in the main, but once clear of the headland, I can change course more to the south which brings the wind and waves onto the beam. It's pretty bumpy, but I have left at near high tide which means that I should have the ebbing tide pushing Dark Star along for the next 6 hours.

Where's the horizon gone?

The rugged cliiffs on this coast falls away to the south east and clearing yet another headland, something strange happens. Ahead the horizon disappears as a wall of water rears up. The first real Atlantic swell, rolling along unstoppably at a 250 degree angle, has found Dark Star, right on the nose. The speed on the GPS drops by 1 knot as we climb the swell and then rises by a knot as we pop over the crest and slide down the other side. It turns out to be quite exhilarating. The wind is not too strong (F4/5) and there are no breaking crests. However, as the course changes to a more southerly one , it brings the swell more on the beam and the autopilot struggles to maintain course as the the boat is flipped sideways at the top of each swell.

Round Uk May 28 June 3 2017 9Brisons, Longships and Lands End in sight and we are finally heading East, home

Onward through the rain and swell Dark Star pushes steadily until we finally clear Pendeen headland and head south towards the famous nautical marks of the Brisons and the Longships. The wind falls away, the swell is now pretty much on the stern and the sun comes out. Lands End comes into view. I pass the Longships ruefully since this is where I had intended to set off across the shipping lanes for the Scilly Isles, just a tantalising 20 miles away. The coastline drops away and glancing at the compass I realise we are heading now 90 degrees due east. We have rounded the bottom of the UK and heading for home. Except there's still the matter of the Scillies!

As I turn to the east, the wind picks up from the north west. The engine is switched off and in the shelter of the land, Dark Star fairly romps along under full sail. I enjoy a memorable 15 mile sail, passing the Runnell Stone Buoy, along the cost of south Cornwall and up towards Mousehole and Penzance Bay. By 18:00 hours I edge into the busy fishing harbour of Newlyn, full of large trawlers. There is no reply on the radio from marina staff but a couple of locals indicate a nice berth. After two nights of poor sleep on roly moorings in St Ives Bay, the near disaster in the harbour and the anxiety of the sail around the "bottom" of England, I thoroughly enjoy a beer and fall fast asleep. But not before the harbour master appears and requests £15 cash for the berth. "Don’t' do credit cards here"...

Saturday June 3rd Newlyn Harbour

Enjoy a lie in and confirm that the forecast for the coming week is indeed dire, with 60mph gusts forecast for Monday afternoon. After a stroll around Newlyn (pretty, no, smelly, yes) found a decent Co-op but there is no "shopping" here unless you want to buy fish. Penzance is just a 15 minute bus ride away and that's where people shop. I have a feeling that there will be no weather window for the Scillies until the end of the coming week. I would like to spend a week in the Scillies but a period of settled weather is a a must. Have discovered the Scillonian passenger ferry sails daily from nearby Penzance harbour to St Mary’s in the Scillies. They do a £40 day return... I will take the bus into Penzance tomorrow. St Mary's church has a free Dvorak concert in the afternoon, so no chance of being tempted onto the Scillonian!

Thanks for reading this.

Kevin Gilroy

PS Just watched a 40/1 shot win the Derby. Trainer A O’Brien "tinks" this is "a nice horse". Can't believe it's nearly ten years since the hectic days of Superform - and Adrian still can't say "thinks".