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Isles of Scilly Sailing

Listed under Sailing in The United Kingdom.

  • Photo of Isles of Scilly Sailing
  • Photo of Isles of Scilly Sailing
Photo of Isles of Scilly Sailing
Photo by Debbie Purser
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The Isles of Scilly is a granite archipelago 35 miles west of Lands End, UK. The full fury of the North Atlantic hammers its shores in the winter months, but on a good day in spring or summer it looks more like the Seychelles.

The boundary between land and sea is redrawn every tide. Islands separated by deep blue channels slowly reconnect as glittering white beaches emerge with the falling tide. The rippled seabed exposed often reveals a starfish where a few hours ago we sailed with a hand bearing compass held tight.

My home for this Cornish beachcombing adventure was a 51ft pilot cutter called Eve of St Mawes. This very distinctive sailing vessel has been sailing on island hopping skippered charter voyages since 1997. I should know as I have been skippering Eve for 11 years with an eclectic mix of charter guests from saxaphone players to poets, marine biologists to boatbuilders. They all have to set sails with blocks and tackles, cope with the occasional rock and roll anchorage as the ocean makes its presence felt,and fall under the spell each inhabited island we visit: - Bryher with its infamous Hell Bay, Tresco - home of the Valhalla Ships Figurehead Collection (from all the wrecks on the reefs around), St Agnes with tropical plants and a disappearing causeway to Gugh, St Mary's to watch the pilot gig rowing races every week and St Martins where they seem to bake more loaves than there are people living on the island.

The islands are very rich in marine wildlife with grey seal colonies, dolphins, basking sharks, puffins, shearwaters, and many rare migrating birds landing on the first bit of land they find. Each voyage we meet up with local wildlife guide Will Wagstaff and he takes the crew around an island with his powerful telescope....and tells us all the latest islander gossip.

The great advantage in living on a boat here is that you have a different ocean sunset each evening, and you have the satisfaction that you arrived in the islands by 65 mile offshore passage from St Mawes and you have earnt your place in paradise.

If you want to stay on land, check out the selection of properties on The Hotel Guru.

Written by  Debbie Purser.

Other expert and press reviews

“The Isles of Scilly - Britain's tropical islands”

By Kathleen Wyatt for The Times First Published September 5th 2009 The barbecue summer may have been rained off, then postponed (not surprisingly for a British barbecue), but there is a plan B — if you can call tropical islands on the edge of Bri… Read more...

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