Brest to Bristol

Portishead 24th July

After some chilling I descended the Aulne river to head to Brest to meet Derrick the following day. The marina in Brest is out of town and so I was surprised to find that it was packed with visitors for some reason. 30 mins after arriving I found it had clouded over and then the fog came down. Siobhan, being a expert on fog, can explain how eerie this is when you are on a boat. But the following day dawned bright and after servicing the engine I headed to the airport to meet de man. We sailed to Camaret that evening on pleasant seas with light winds. The following day, after filling up on the wine etc for the crew, we headed up the Chenal Du Four with wind on the nose and lumpyish seas. This was because we had 10 knots of wind on the nose and 4 knots of tide pushing against it. L'Aberwrac'h was sunny but with some disturbing forecasts of strong winds for the coming days. It was like two years ago when we were stuck for 6 days in the same spot. This time the pontoons were full and so were the mooring buoys so we anchored off and set ourselves up for getting to know the place well during the coming days.

As it turned out we were anchored there for 4 nights with winds up to force 7. Those moored on the pontoons looked nervous as there was a choppy sea in the river causing their boats to snatch at their mooring lines a lot. Evantually we left on the sunday evening to do a night crossing so we could arrive in daylight. The Scillies are low and have no marinas so you need light to arrive or leave. but at night ships are much easier to see as their lights indicate where they are heading. We had a moderately choppy sea for the first few hours with a good wind direction allowing us to cream along at 7 knots. The wind eased a little as night set in allowing the boat to be more comfortable to that we could sleep. So we arrived at 9am local time feeling not as shagged as last time when Derrick and I had fog for the last 8 hours. Even better, we were able to sail almost all the way.

Instead of going to St Marys, the bigest island, this time we anchored off St Agnes which is small and quaint. Its jewel was called Cornish Cream, a sweet creamy stout served in the Turks Head, a pub with a view to die for. We wandered the whole island and felt that we deserved some nourishment after our efforts, this is where the beer came in !! The following day we went to St Marys to provision but found the moorings full, most boats being moored 2 to a mooring buoy. So we anchored outside but were moved on as we and lots of other boats were deemed to be obstructing one of the 3 entrances to the harbour. Here we were, in the biggest harbour in the islands with up to 18 knots of wind having to look for somewhere to hide from the wind for the night. We decided to head to New Grimsby, an anchorage between the 2 high islands of Bryher and Tresco. Being high tide we motored across the tidal flats and found a safe haven in a place even nicer that St Marys. In the morning we wandered around Tresco and found a touristy place, a real bird watchers paradise. In years gone by much of the centre of it had been reforested with tropical trees. Today it is owned by Prince Charles who rents it out to a family who control it. Tourism is rife but not too much so. If you like to wander, look at birds and plants or just chill, then this is a place for you.

After lunch we did Bryher, a more simple island but still charming. The walk around the west side exposed the brutality of the effect of centuries of pounding by the Atlantic, a coastline strewn with rocks and rocky islets. Sadly, the pub didn't have Cornish Cream, but we sampled the local brew nonetheless.

The wind that had persisted all day in New Grimsby had eased when we awoke the next morning so we headed off to make the long haul to Lundy Island, in the middle of the Bristol Channel, 95 miles away. In the beginning we had good wind but it evantually died and left us with glassy seas and hazy visibility. We just caught sight of Cape Cornwall, north of Lands End and saw nothing until we approached Lundy 10 hours later. There was very little traffic so we just relaxed, read and kept an eye out for the migrating Dilphins and Basking Sharks which were all heading south.

We anchored in Lundy in the dark and in the morning saw the island rising almost vertically out of the sea beside us. It was really impressive and reminded me of Alsa Craig in the Clyde in Scotland. Going ashore, and climbing the track to the plateau at the top, we found a moorland landscape with sheep, goats and deer being farmed by those who live on the island. Derrick and I went for a long walk before retiring to the pub for a lunchtime pint. Later we chatted to the chef who has a boat and he told us that they slaughter their own meat. Aren't we lucky that we had just bought a leg of lamb for a celebratory dinner on arrival in Bristol. Should be good!!

The next day started cool with glassy seas again as we headed up the Bristol Channel with the tide. No wind at all so we were again motoring but at least this time we could start to see the land closing on both sides as the sun evantually burnt away the haze. It was the end of an epic trip: sailing across the English Channel, being kicked out of St Marys in the Scillies to find somewhere much better, and then two long days motoring. But along the way we had seen some beautiful places, to be marked down again for future reference.