It wasn’t far along the coast to get back to Dartmouth from Falmouth. In order to arrive before lunch on the 28th (our plan), we wanted to get along the coast as much as possible, so headed on to Salcombe.
The weather wasn’t as clear as for our arrival in the UK, so all of our pictures ended up being a little washed out.
Nevertheless, the sail was lovely, we followed a pretty straight line, avoiding a lighthouse, a bouy and a navy ship.
Our night in Salcombe was peaceful, and the harbour master recognized Hannah from before her paint job, so before we set off.
We didn’t have much wind leading Salcombe to Dartmouth, so had to motor most of the way.
We had prepared a flag chain to hoist for our final journey, which looked rather epic when we arrived in the Marina to a welcome from our families.
We unloaded most of the boat in a few hours, then headed out for lunch with the families. Heading back to Hannah the following day for a quick clean, and move back across the river dart to her trot mooring.
The boatyard that we leave the dinghy at when leaving the trot is up a side creek of the river and dries out totally at low tide.
We cut the timing of the tide far too tight (not used to all this tidal stuff after our year in the Caribbean), and Kathryn had to wade through the mud in the final meters so that we could pull the dinghy to the dock.
We set off in some rougher weather, 3m large swell and up to 20 knots of wind. Due to this Kathryn wasn’t feeling great, but at least we saw lots of dolphins and were going nice and fast.
The general plan was to set off in this worse weather and have it drop down to something nice within a day or two. Sail most of the way, and as we approach the UK have a lull, before the subsequent low pressure would start to catch us, and then boost our way into the English channel.
All of this weather planning ended up being fairly accurate and we mostly sailed as planned with a couple of days of motoring in the middle and made it into the UK after 9 days.
On the way we saw these interesting cluster-type things that at the time we thought were some kind of jellyfish, but it turns out were Gooseneck Barnacles in a little cluster.
The blender that we bought in Velas came in handy once again. We still had leftover frozen fruit from our last smoothies to blend along with some fresh stuff, so we had mid-crossing smoothies!
We ended up watching quite a number of films in the cockpit during this passage, so popcorn was also needed.
We came toward England quite close to the Isles of Scilly, and this was the first land we saw, we were almost home. One more night sailing along the English coast and we came in for our approach to Falmouth in very light winds the following morning.
We anchored in the corner of the inner anchorage area, and were the closest boat to shore. It turns out that it was “Armed forces day” and there were quite some celebrations going on, including a flyover of the red arrows just after we anchored, and a parade through the streets of Falmouth. This started to explain the presence of 3 naval boats in the harbour too.
Our friends Tom and Nat arrived in Falmouth shortly after to whisk us away for brunch, and evening BBQ on the beach, and a nice evening in a land bed, which was absolutely great!
Just a few more hops along the English coastline till Hannah is back in her home port of Dartmouth.
This is a bit of a recap, and behind where we are at the present day, but it includes a nice map of the whole journey in the first month as well as some thoughts on what it may have been nice to change.
Today we counted and we were sailing for 16 of 30 days in the first month, and that included spending ~4-5 days at a wedding in London!
We originally considered crossing straight from the English mainland to Brest but decided to head to the Isles of Scilly on day 20, a decision we are still happy with as the Isles of Scilly are beautiful. If anything we wish we could have spent more time there.
After our little morning wake up we set off around 8 am. The plan was for the whole route to take a little over 24 hours, so an 8am start meant we would arrive during the day to Brest.
The whole track was around 140 nautical miles, took 1 day 5 hours with an average speed of 4.7 knots.
It’s always hard to put across what sailing out to sea is like in words, so here are two short clips from different points in time during the crossing.
As we left the Isles of Scilly the sea was extremely flat, as the isles were protecting us from the swell.
As we gained distance from the Isles the swell started to pick up a bit. Here is a video from 14:30 on day 24, 6 hours in.
As we got further into the channel the swell continued to build slightly, and in this clip from 22:44 on day 24, you can see some more rolly larger swells.
Crossing the shipping lanes is always a little bit of fun, especially in the channel where they can be quite busy. You can actually see a large container ship in the background on the video above.
AIS is invaluable here, as all the large ships are required to transmit their location (lots of small boats including Hannah do too). AIS data is displayed within the Navionics app that we use for navigation. Below you can see 2 ships in the channel, their track for the next 20 minutes, as well as where we are.
As we approached France, we put our courtesy flag up (thanks Syliva for hand sewing them all) as the coastline was lit up with lighthouses (very hard to take a picture of). For anyone that doesn’t know, the courtesy flags are a small flag for each country for use when you are in their waters saying that you agree to abide by their laws.
We had to navigate through a rather tidal channel called “Chenal Du Four” which is around 14 nautical miles long and narrows down to roughly 2 nautical miles.
As planned the tide was in our favour, whisking us toward Brest adding around 4 knots to our speed. The top speed on the crossing as a whole was 11 knots over land.
The final part of the passage took us into the entrance to Brest where we tacked all the way up to the rather larger harbour, within which sits Marina du Château.
Initially, our call over VHF to the marina told us there was no room on the visitor pontoons as there was a big event going on that day. We needed to enter the country and the EU so we negotiated a short stop on the fuel pontoon for us to visit the immigration office that is only a 4 minute walk away.
Upon returning the staff had found a place for us within the marina using the spot of another boat that was away for the month, so time to relocate. Our marina track ended up looking a little like this.
Once moored up, we started to relax in the midst of the heatwave, making use of the new handmade wind scoop for the forward hatch (thanks Sylvia).
As mentioned above, we arrived amidst a festival, it also happened to be Bastille day, but we will write about that in the next post! 🙂
Heading to shore, we landed the dinghy on the northeastern side at Old Grimsby.
The first thing on our minds was a spot of lunch, and the closest place (also quite expensive) was Ruin Beach Cafe, very yummy. We ended up having a full 3-course meal for lunch, see our deserts to the right.
We started exploring and headed for a big walk counter-clockwise around the island without much planning about what to see, except for some greenery and the open ocean on the far side.
There is lots of green space on the northern side, with great views of the open ocean, and views of the other Isles.
As you make your way around to the western side you find a couple of castles / forts providing a little history lesson and some more good views, such as New Grimsby.
We stopped off at the supermarket in the middle of the island for some icecreams and drinks because it was around 28 degrees C.
Continuing south, we planned on visiting Tresco Gardens, but unfortunately due to our late planning, they were closed. Nonetheless, our adventure to the south let us relax while watching lots of rabbits and pheasants frolick in the grass.
Rabbits frolicking in the grass
It was low tide when we got back to Old Grimsby where we had left the dinghy.
We spent a little time in Ruin Beach Cafe once again making full use of their WiFi to download the latest Stranger Things season, as well as updates to our navigational charts.
Finally, it was time to carry the dinghy, engine and all, back down to the water (now quite the trek).
On Day 20 we arrived in the Isles of Scilly, amidst the Eastern Isles, right next to Great Ganilly.
We were only a short distance from Great Ganilly Island, so figured we had better replace our outboard engine oil (a job we had been putting off), and explore the island!
We took the dinghy a short distance to shore and carried it over a bit of rocky ground so it wouldn’t drift away as the tide rose.
Heading counter-clockwise around the island we first found ourselves on a little beach with a webcam (we guess for seals).
There was quite a bit of fishing tackle, ropes and things caught in rocks and on the beach, including this box that said Lowestoft! It’s a small world, as Lowestoft is Kathryn’s mums home town.
The island had a few paths carved out from where people had visited before. But the main inhabitants seemed to be hundreds of sea birds, all of which were flying around keeping an eye on what we were doing…
As we came back around to the western side of the island we got the opportunity to take some nice pictures of Hannah from the shore.
We weren’t ready to head back to the boat, so we relaxed on the beach until sunset.
From the beach, we could see a rock that looked a lot like what Grace described as a giant slug, but we were thinking of a crocodile. So of course, I (Adam) had to go and see what it would look like if I tried to ride it.
Meanwhile, Kathryn was once again getting artsy in the sand.
On the way back to the boat, we could mostly have the dinghy engine off and drift downwind, which was perfect as the seals were out and about.
There were points where we were considering not heading the Isles of Scilly, as we are on a schedule to reach Porto, Portugal at the start of August. We thought it would be a shame to miss out though, and the long-range forecast looked good for a hop to the Scillies, follows by a crossing of Biscay or to Brest, France.
We once again used Fast Seas weather routing for this crossing, and we included the details of this in our Nic 38 owners forum reply.
The route was all on a single tack out along the cornish coast, past lands end and straight to the Isles. Our track matched this rather nicely.
We did lose the wind for a little bit as we approached Lands End. We could see the wind on the sea in the distance so motored up to it, and that gave us the opportunity to grab this picture of Lands End from the sea.
We headed into the Isles of Scilly at the closest point to us, the Eastern Isles.
The sea continued to look like the picture above (nice and flat) just with short rolling ocean swell.
There was a lovely little anchorage which we shared with 3 other boats, and a family of seals.
We anchored at St Michael’s Mount to protect ourselves from some of the North Easterly winds, but day 19 brought some calm.
We wanted to head to Penzance to top up our diesel and water tanks and to try and pick up a replacement Calor gas bottle. We also had some friends that may come to visit so wanted an easy and safe place to leave the dingy!
We just sailed across with the geona again, but it took no time at all.
You can see this track includes 1) anchoring outside the harbour to wait for fuel 2) heading into the harbour behind the sil, turning around and coming back to the fuel barge 3) heading back out of the harbour to anchor back up where we would be spending the night.
We headed to shore in the dingy through the outer harbour which is not behind a sil and headed for some dinner being picked up by our friends that were driving. When reaching Newly we ate at Mackerel Sky Cafe. Delicious, but no picutres.
We managed to find a Calor gas bottle at the local morisons, did a little shop, had some on land showers before heading back to Hannah.
Before setting off this mainly looked like a big sail upwind as we were in a northerly wind.
After 6 hours of sailing and a couple of tacks, we found ourselves nearing Penzance.
It was lovely and flat in the bay, even quite some way out and made for some very nice sailing.
Penzance Harbour is behind a sil and at the time of our arrival the sil was closed (we already knew this). We had the option of using a mooring ball outside the harbour, anchoring outside the harbour, and using a different anchorage.
St Michael’s Mount looked like it gave good protection (and a nice view) so we headed to it!
You can see us approaching the Mount below.
The anchorage was rather windy, we were sheltered there with 3 other boats, one of them arrived with us, re-anchored a few times and then decided to leave for somewhere else.
We stayed put in the winds, charged up a bit with the wind turbine and generally relaxed.
(In this sort of wind a trip to the shore in the dinghy is not really much fun)
By the evening, the wind had dropped and it was rather lovely.
We wanted to break out the larger journey around to Penzance. We found an anchorage (Housel Cove) on Navionics that looked like it should give us pretty good protection from the swell and wind for the night and headed off!
This was an easy sail again only on a reefed genoa as we were trying to sail at 2-3 knots so we could fish with the paravane as we went.
Although we were ready for the fish, the fish were not there. Even while trying to sail slowly, you can see the bend in the rod as we occasionally hit 4+ knots.
The journey took only 4.5 hours and we found ourselves in Housel Cove which is overlooked by Housel Hotel and Lizard Lighthouse.
We were in the bay all by ourselves, and also had a beach that seemed to be mostly inaccessible from the land, so private for us!
We both got a little artistic on this day.
Kathryn took this very nice looking picture of the deck while we were sailing
Adam took this rather blurry, but perhaps nice to look at picture of Lizard Lighthouse at night from the bay.