Cruising back into familiar waters

18th September - 26th September 

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We left Kinsale around 4:30am on Friday 18th on what seemed to be the blackest of mornings. Once away from the marina lights I was literally removing the fenders from the stanchions by feel. We were barely out of the harbour putting up our sails when the first of the many dolphins came to play. There is something special about seeing dolphins duck, weave, leap and disappear beside your boat. It seems to always be a positive sign and nice to know you have company on the water. 

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It was a long days sail to achieve the 130nm. With wind from behind and confused seas it was 19 hours before we finally arrived into the Isle of Scilly's. We chose to anchor in New Gimsby Sound off the Island of Tresco. As it had been when we left Kinsale the night sky had closed in. It is times like these that you really have to rely on your instruments and each other. With night vision camera in hand, radar on, a strong torch and headsets we tentatively motored into the harbour with Andrew on the bow and Lee on the helm knowing that visitor mooring boys would potentially be where we had hoped to anchor. Sure enough as we ventured furthered in the mooring buoys appeared in growing numbers. So we headed back out and chose a spot off the castle ruins with Hangmans Rock at our stern. Everything at night always looks closer particularly when you have been sailing all day and your senses get a little over sensitive. Andrew chose to sleep on deck while I bunkered down in the saloon just to ensure that the rock didn’t get any closer during the remainder of the evening and a hasty relocation required. Thankfully by 3.30am the tide had cycled and we were happy that Katherine was well and truly secured and were able to retire finally to the comfort of our real bed.

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The Scilly Isles is an archipelago off the southwestern tip of England, and feels like a little bit of the mediterrean. We were last here in April 2013 when we ventured up the Irish Sea on our way to Denmark. Hard to believe over two years have passed and by returning to The Scilly’s we have completed our circumnavigation of Ireland. While here we were asked if we knew the significance of the longitude of the Scilly's - well it took a bit of research but the findings were some what interesting if not significant to the world of sailing. Back in 1707 the Royal Navy Fleet lost four warships in severe weather off the Scilly’s with a tragic loss of over 1400 sailors. Following an investigation into what was one of the worst maritime disasters  it was concluded that the navigators ability to determine their exact position using dead reckoning (working out where you are by taking a fix on a known position like a landform) was a major factor. A way of better navigating was needed and led to the establishment of the Longitude Act in 1714 with the offer of monetary rewards should someone be able to show a better way of accurately determining longitude (north to south position)  at sea. After many years of research the marine chronometer was developed and a more accurate measurement established. 

Our stay in the Scilly Isles was short, just two nights, before we sailed onto Pendennis Marina in Falmouth where we have now been based for a week taking the opportunity to explore a little bit of Cornwall. 

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Our first drive day took us on the Penwith Tour - heading southwest from Falmouth the drive was around the most south western point of England passing through towns such as Penzance, the quaint port of Porthcurno, Lands End and St Just. We stopped at the Minack Theatre - an Ancient Greek style stone theatre set on cliffs overlooking the bay of Porthcumo. It was the vision and passion of Rowena Cade who lived in Minack House and decided that her cliffside garden would make for a great outdoor theatre for local drama productions. So along with her gardener she set about developing a theatre from concrete ready for the first performance of Tempest in 1932. The theatre has continued to be developed since Rowena's death in 1983 and today hosts over 80000 playgoers every year. If the weather was not favourable it certainly would provide some challenges for the props, performers and the audience. Very unique open air theatre and a real testimony to one women passion and vision. 

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Continuing west to Landsend, after contributing to the community by paying our parking fee we walked to the most western point and took in the view of where we had sailed just days before.  Following the coastline north from Landsend we passed through the township of St Just and discovered a beautiful old church with wall paintings dating back to the 15th Century. Throughout the drive scattered across the countryside were remains of tall chimney stacks a reminder of the tin and copper mining that was very important to the area back as far as the early 1500’s.

The following day we headed south west again to St Michaels Mount, a small island that is accessible on low tide by a causeway or by boat at higher tides. The short boat ride to the harbour was certainly not the highlight for a few of the visitors on the day we travelled out, they were certainly happy to be on land despite the assurance of the boat driver that he had never lost a passenger in his 40 years of operation. 

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The island is dedicated to the archangel St Micheal who according to legend appeared here in 495. In the 12th century the Monks of Mont St Michel in Normandy established the church and priory that today are part of the main castle. The abbey was absorbed into a fortress when Henry VIII set up a string of fortresses around the coastline to protect England from an expected French attack. The mount was then purchased in 1660 by Sir John St Aubyn and has since that time moved from a fortification to a grand home with the addition of the Victorian Wing. In 1964 the property was handed over to the National Trust with the family retaining a 999 year lease to allow them to live in the castle and run the visitor business. A unique and positive outcome allowing a family to continue to enjoy their historical home whilst thousands of visitors get a glimpse of the castle, and get to enjoy the beautiful gardens. 

We plan a few more days here in Falmouth taking in a few more sights before we move onto Plymouth. It certainly has been nice to have the luxury of time and some good weather to enjoy the area we are in. 

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© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain