Falmouth - Isles of Scilly - Home

Ocean Princess Successfully Completes South Coast Circular Cruise

3. Falmouth to the Isles of Scilly and Home!

The two 'Princesses' made a fine picture passing each other Picture: The two 'Princesses' made a fine picture passing each other.

0600 Monday 4th August Ocean Princess set off in calm seas for the Lizard and the Isles of Scilly. Anchored off Falmouth, ready to take her passengers ashore by boat for a day in Falmouth, was the new P&O luxury liner Royal Princess.

Having rounded the Lizard, the waves began to increase and with an easterly wind and, for the first time, a following sea. By midday, with the waves being 5/6 foot we were surfing our way to the Isles of Scilly at 7 knots. Then, for no apparent reason, speed suddenly dropped to 1.5 knots but the engine revs remained at 1800. What the hell was going on? Steering became difficult and we did not want to breach the waves. A quick engine check and a look over the stern revealed we were towing one of the many lobster pots which litter the south coast. Trawling was not on our itinerary and anyway we had no rod license, so down the weed hatch to cut free a fast moving lobster! In rough seas, the weed hatch can let in a lot of water as the crest of a wave passes the stern. The plus side being you can easily see the prop, rudder and skeg through the clear water.

Ocean Princess taking fule and water at Hugh Town PierPicture: Ocean Princess entering Hugh Town.

On our approach to the Isles of Scilly the waves increased to between 7 and 8 feet and the crew were on red alert as we surfed in between the islands. We rounded the Island of St Mary and the sea became calmer as we approached Hugh Town, where we were privileged to moor on the customs buoy.
Time to inflate the dingy and row ashore. Then a quick squall made rowing ashore impossible as we thought we might be swept out to sea again. Two hours later, all was calm and the crew enjoyed the evening in Hugh Town.

0800 Tuesday 5th August 'Ocean Princess' took on fuel and water at the Hugh Town pier as we debated if the weather was good enough to continue. At 0900 after refueling, fog came down within minutes. Fog generally means less wind and calmer seas, so we sailed out of Hugh Town for the Bristol Channel. Visibility was now down to 100 feet when, despite our radar reflector, we came very close to hitting two yachts and a trip boat as we left the harbour. We then posted two lookouts, one at the bow on the foredeck and the other in the rear hatch, and totally relied on our chart plotter for navigation. Heavy seas at any time are bad enough, but at night or in the fog it is much worse as you cannot see the waves coming. Once clear of the Islands, the sea became calmer as we crossed the shipping lanes between the Isles of Scilly and Lands End.

By 1500 the fog had lifted and we had slight seas along the north coast of Cornwall to Port Quin near Padstow, where we dropped anchor for the night. We then received a message from the Harbour Master at Bude asking if we would like to visit their canal as they had never had a narrow boat on the Bude canal.

At 0600 Wednesday 5th August, Ocean Princess set sail for Bude and was greeted by the town crier on the beach tannoy system saying 'Welcome Ocean Princess to Bude and we hope you enjoy your stay', to which we replied with a long blast of the horn. The rest of the day was spent exploring the delights of the Bude canal and surroundings. Leaving Bude about 1800, we set sail for an overnight passage to Avonmouth.

At Anchor at PortisheadThursday 6th August at 0200 the fog came down again and the sea became rough, but luckily it was a following sea so the front door could be kept open to aid visibility in the fog. We passed several ships in the Bristol Channel and by 0400 the sea had calmed and visibility improved. At 0600 we anchored off Portis Head to await the tide to take us up to Bristol Docks. It is interesting that on all three of our night passages the sea was at it's worst between 0100 and 0300.

1400 Friday 7th August, Ocean Princess entered the sea lock at Bristol Docks and back onto non-tidal waters.

'Ocean Princess' has since traveled along the K&A and up the Thames to Oxford and up the Oxford canal to Braunston and south down the Grand Union to Linslade. Arriving home on Wednesday 24th September.

Talks and Slide Shows:
If you are a member of a boat club or social group and would like a first-hand account with slides of the voyage and preparation of Ocean Princess, we are pleased to offer talks of between one and two hours. These talks are very popular and excellent entertainment, as well as being most informative.
Minimum Audience 40.
Cost: Traveling expenses plus a minimum £25 donation to the B&MK Trust.

Talks and Slide Shows:
James Griffin, The Wyvern Shipping Company Ltd
Tel: 01525 372355
Website: www.canalholidays.co.uk

The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway:
Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust,