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Cruise July 2017

Brest to Plymouth via the Scilly Isles

5 of us set out from Southampton airport for the short flight to Brest on a twin turboprop, and were treated to great views of the Channel Islands below.

Gathering on BB in Marina Moulin Blanc, we met up with Pascal who had just completed the leg from La Rochelle and was staying on for a further 2 weeks. Food was booked at a 'nearby' restaurant, Crêperie Blé Noir. Taxi there and good food, unusual dark crepes, but no taxis back, so an unexpected 50 min walk back to the boat. Shopping at local supermarket in the morning was a pleasure - cheap wine, and even free taxi ride to and from marina. Well done Carrefour. Left marina midday for 24 hour crossing. Route west then NW via Chenal du Four, passing north of Ushant to avoid traffic separation zones. Hoped for suitable wind once out in open sea, but instead met by head on wind and large swell. This continued through the whole crossing, and pitch black night, no moon or stars. Motored entire journey. Mal de Mer at least 50% of crew. Crossing described by skipper as 'horrible'. Only plus points were the unexpectedly polite captains of other ships contacted via radio in busy shipping lanes in the night. Regrettably our crew did not make the best of Bill's excellent cooking; sorry Bill. Some sense of relief when Scillies in sight. On mooring in Hugh Town bay on St Mary's by 11 am; beautifully warm and sunny. Briefly explored Hugh Town and booked 'Bishop and Wolf' for evening meal which was enjoyed by all and good value. First taste of Tribute ale for some of us, a taste we chose to repeat a few times later in the week.

​The plan had been to spend a couple of days in the Scillies before heading to Plymouth. However forecasts were for easterlies and thunderstorms later in the week, so with regret it was decided to leave next morning for Falmouth. We had a hot, sunny, smooth crossing but again had to motor all the way due to lack of wind! Light relief however was accorded by 10 mins of Dolphin watching. They always seem to lift the spirits.

two nights were spent in Mylor marina, a rather agreeable spot. We intended to daysail next day from Mylor and set off for the Helford river with that intent. Sails raised in expectation, we were interrupted by a bleeping from below, and annoyingly a battery charging problem forced us to return to the marina. By some great good fortune, Ingmar and his partner were in Falmouth at that time and kindly came to advise. A problem with the alternator regulator was diagnosed and a suitable temporary arrangement was made. Rory and I had a pleasant walk into the village of Mylor for a few extra supplies. An excellent evening meal was taken in the marina restaurant. Very many thanks to Ingmar for the emergency advice.

​Thursday we set sail for Plymouth and at last managed some reasonable sailing although in light airs. What a joy to turn off the engine. Unexpected entertainment was also offered by the border force who very politely came alongside while we were out at sea, asked a few questions to check we were legit, and then decided they did not not need to board.

​An interesting buoy hop into Mayflower marina, with a Belgian warship entering at the same time, and we were tied up by 6pm in the tightest berth our skipper had ever manoeuvred BB into! We never experimented with the best way of getting her out, as our last day had such light airs we decided not to even attempt to sail. So much for the forecast easterlies and thunderstorms, neither of which made any appearance. Instead we were tourists for a few hours and explored a little of Plymouth. Bill had been in the navy 40 years ago and entertained us with tales of Plymouth in past times. 

We visited the old Admiral's house and were kindly shown around. It is now a support centre for youths with drug and alcohol problems, which we were told was set up by Dawn French's mother, Roma. Of course we visited 'The Hoe' and the Mayflower steps, but were sad to see how run down parts of Plymouth have become, no doubt in part as a result of the shrinking size of the navy. 

​Mayflower marina is to be recommended despite the tight berth! The restaurant, Jolly Jack, we used twice, both times enjoyed. Bill even tried fish there despite being vegetarian, and repeated it on the second night, so it can't have been bad. The washrooms are famously good - for a shower you get a whole bathroom to yourself. And for connoisseurs of classic yachts, Eric Tabarly's 1964 transatlantic winning racer 'Pen Duick II' was on the next pontoon. 

​So despite a rough crossing from Brest, weather forecasts that were far from accurate, and occasional linguistic misunderstandings, we had an enjoyable and very sunny week. Many thanks to all on board, but especially to Phillip our skipper.

About the author

Charles Wellingham

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