Island hopping adventures in the Isles of Scillies with the Coastal Weekender
This 11 route adventure in the Isles of Scilly, 28 miles west of lands end is the ultimate trip to get away from it all. There are 5 main islands and numerous other small rocky, sandy outcrops. The Coastal Weekender's low draft makes this the perfect boat to go island hopping.
The Coastal Weekender is a traditional classic day sailor built by Character Boats, she has two quarter berths underneath a sprayhood, so you can get out of the elements and plenty of water tight lockers to keep your kit dry, she sails well in light airs and can reef it it gets a bit bumpy. Either drop your anchor for an overnight stay or pull up on a beach.
Getting to the Scillies
You can either launch the Coastal Weekender from Penzance and sail or you get her placed onboard the Scillonian as freight and get her and your gear shipped there for a fee. The Scillionian is a 68 meter Steel ferry, cruises at 15 knots and it takes 2.5 hours to get from Penzance to the Scillies.
Depending upon the weather and wind direction, there are plenty of anchorages in the Isles of Scilly, depending on the wind direction and strength, with the Coastal Weekender's shoal draft you can tuck yourself right in to get as much shelter as possible. No route is longer than 5 miles.
(Please don't use for navigation refer to proper marine charts and check tides!)
ROUTE 1 - St Marys to Green Bay Bryher
On a very low Springs at low water you can walk between Tresco and Bryher so you want to get the tides right before setting sail from St Mary's harbour. Head north from the harbour across the St Marys Roads to Hulman marker, watch out for a rock due south of Hulman rock which is awash at chart datum, then leave Little Rag Ledge to port. Then leave the Three Brothers, Great Crab Ledge and Lubbers Rock to Port. Head towards Merrick Island, leave to port, once past, head west towards the Quay and Green Bay and anchor overnight.
ROUTE 2 - Green Bay Bryher to St Helens
From Green Bay Quay, head towards Tresco's Quay on New Grimsby harbour, before heading along the moorings past Hangman's iIsland to port and out of new Grimsby Sound. Head round the north end of Tresco keeping clear of Kettle Bottom rocks before heading down Old Grimsby Sound. Keep Little Kittern to Port and head down Tresco coast until you're abeam of Little Cheese Rock and missed the Lump of Clay Ledge, then round and head into St Helens Pool and aim towards St Helens landing carn, where you can drop your hook.
ROUTE 3 - St Helens to St Martins (NE)
Leave your anchorage, head back into deeper water, then head north up St Helens Gap, keeping clear of W Gap Rock to port. Head north clearing Deep Ledges, Lion Rock and White Island, once clear of baker Rock before heading south towards your next anchorage point in the white sand on the north east side of St Martins.
ROUTE 4 - St Martins (NE) to south of the island
When you pull your anchor you can then head inside of St Martins Bat missing three rocky areas, Great Merrick Ledge and Mackerel Rocks, then head north towards the Santamana Ledge. Head east keeping Tearing Ledge to port and head round the east side of St martins keeping clear of rocks that lie north east of St Martins Head. From Little Ledge NE of St Martins Head make a course towards Little Innisvouls one of the Eastern Isles, then when you are west of the Chimney Rocks head south of west keeping clear of the rocks that run south from the east side of Higher Town beach. Once by the beach find a suitable spot to anchor in, or drag the boat up the beach.
ROUTE 5 - St Martins to Tean Island
South of St Martins there's a shallow ledge which extends all the way to Guthers Island, a line of rocks under Guthers Island run south eastwards to Seal Island, so leaving Higher Town heading from Crow Rock by St Marys will keep you clear of Guthers Island and the rocks. When Men-a-Vaur and St Helens Landing Carn are in line, head towards them until you are south of Goats Point towards West Broad Ledge, where the water will get a little deeper towards Tean Sound. We're not far now from Tean Island beach, anchor in sand.
ROUTE 6 - Tean to St Agnus
Leave Tean Island beach, heading south west leaving Hedge Rock to port, then when Men-a-Vaur and St Helens Landing Carn are in line head toward the southerly cardinal north of St Marys, this transit will keep you west and clear of Scattering Rocks on the east side of Tresco. When you are clear past east Craggyellis, then head south across Crow Bar, sail past Crow Rock, keep to port and St Marys heading for St Agnus. The only dangers here are Woodcock Ledge and then keep the port hand buoy to port marking a shallow area. Keep clear of Perconger Ledge and Little Perconger and head south into Porth Conger keeping The Cow to port, anchor close in towards the beach. Just for information, the isthmus does cover on a high tide.
ROUTE 7 - St Agnus (Porth Conger) to the Cove
From Porth Conger, this is a short hop round Gugh to The Cove anchorage. Head for the narrow gap between Gugh and The Cow and The Calf rocks (check tides first). Then keep Gugh clearing Kittern Rock you can go in-between Spanish Ledges and Bow Ledges keeping clear of Round Rock. If in doubt go outside the easterly cardinal to keep clear of all the ledges. When you pass The Hoe point follow the coastline up into the cove and drop your anchor in the shallows at the top.
ROUTE 8 - St Agnus (The Cove) to Porth Cressa
The cove to Porth Cressa is a really short hop, there are not many dangers off the southern side of Gugh, clear The Hoe, then head for the easterly cardinal. Once you have reached the easterly cardinal, head north for the red and green bouys marking the passage into Porth Cressa anchorage, head past the deep water moorings and anchor in the sandy spot just north of the moorings.
ROUTE 9 - Porth Cressa to Porth Loo
If the wind pipes up from the south, then leave Porth Cressa and head towards the anchorage just north of St Marys Pool (Hugh Town). Pick up your anchor and head for the red and green buoys, once through them, give the southerly cardinal a wide berth to starboard and head north west. Keep Woodcock ledge and Bacon Ledge to starboard, when in line with Bacon Ledge head east into the small cove. This is open to the west and boats tend to roll a bit, but with a shoal draught you can tuck yourself up on the beautiful sandy beach.
ROUTE 10 - Porth Loo to Watermill Cove
From Porth Loo head west until you are well past the Cow Rock, then head north until you can see Crow Bar safe water mark, head towards it and keep it to port. The shallow waters around Crow Bar can kick up some steep short waves. When you are past Bar point, head towards the southerly cardinal marking the dangers of Hats to the north. Keep south of the cardinal then head south clearing the rock off Blockhouse Point, then head into the cove where you may see seals.
ROUTE 11 - Watermill Cove to St Marys Harbour
Pretty much the same as Route 10.
Equipment - Camping onboard
- Sleeping bags
- Blow up pillows
- Dry Bags
- Drinking water
- Gas cooker (spare cylinders)
- Cooking equipment
- Cutlery, deep bowls, cups
- Rubbish bags
- Spare batteries for equipment
- Charging for phones, hand held VHF
- Supermarkets - There's a good supermarket on St Mary's Hugh Town.
- Drinking Water - Fill up on the quay in Hugh town, note you need to pay a small amount.
- Diesel - Book your slot on quay wall with Hugh Town harbour, check tides first!
- Shower: Hugh Town harbour office showers, £1.00 per shower.
- Shower: Porth Cressa £2.00 per shower, obtain key from Tourist office.
- Fresh produce can be bought from most islands via honesty boxes, grown by locals.
- St Martins - Seven Stones Inn (great food and hosts)
- Bryher - Fraggle Rock bar, lively pub with good local food
- St Agnus - Turks Head (order your pasty when you enter the island for later. First come first served. the most southern pub in British Isles.
- St Mary's - There's lots, they're all great. Atlantic Inn (good Wifi) - Mermaid Inn (right on the quay)
- Tresco - New Inn, Award winning food
On the Isles of Scillies dogs are welcome in a lot of places on the islands. Tresco is a private island so dogs must be kept on leads. Some skippers on the local trip boats have dogs as helping hands, since there are lots of beaches check first before taking your dogs on the beach. At Juliet's cafe on St Marys, you can buy organic doggy treats.
Coastal Walks - BLUE days
There are amazing walks round each island. very difficult to get lost, but if you're walking on St Martins, heading for the Seven Stones Inn, get there before food closes at 14.00. Lots of beaches, bays and burial sites to explore. Look out for the BLUE days, this is when the blue clear sky and sunshine make shallow waters a rich turquoise blue, there's no where better to be sitting on you're Coastal Weekender anchored in a protected beach.
Picture above looking north from Tresco towards St Helens Pool where cruising boats are anchored with St Helens Island in the middle left of the picture. The light house on Round Island juts out from behind St Helens island.