Let´s start into the new year 2020 by appealing to our dreams: What are the dream destinations you´d like to visit by boat this year? For me, it´s mostly islands. Since I was a kid reading through the books of Pirates and the great Explorers, it´s islands near and far. Nearing oneself a new shore from the seas is always a great pleasure and exciting. But I love sailing to islands most, I think, somehow this satisfies the old childhood´s dream of becoming an explorer.
The Baltic Sea, which I would call my “home turf” offers a great variety of islands and a couple of thousand years of rich culture and history. Two years ago I began travelling to Bornholm, unforgotten my second visit here to the most beautiful and picturesque harbor of Gudhjem. But the Baltic Sea offers much more, like the Island of the Vikings and the German Hanse, Gotland or the “most beautiful sailing area of the world” (according to many sailing friends), the Swedish Archipelago. Today I´d like to talk about a destination which I was thinking of for many years: The Scilly Isles of Great Britain.
Britain´s most precious Islands: Scilly Isles by boat
Approaching a topic like this, personally, I like doing it with the help of books. Utilizing the experience and knowledge of people who came here before me helps to get a general overview and a feeling for the matter. Also, YouTube offers a variety of documentaries which give an insight in how it really might be to go there. I identified two books as a start to begin my research with.
First one is published by Royal cruising Club Pilotage Foundation and has been written by Graham Adam, an intimate and frequent visitor to the Scilly Isles. That some 85 pages in A4-format mainly dedicated to safely approaching the islands and finding anchorages between them. Just by looking at the nicely drawn charts I felt a deep pull inside of me to go there: The Scillies have always been and still are an insider´s tip. Don´t you agree that these charts look like an old pirate´s hideout in the Caribbean?
Situated 28 miles from Land´s End, some one hundred miles North-West of the French coast (Brest would be a perfect starting point) or 95 miles West of Plymouth in the UK, the Scilly Isles are a conglomerate of rocky islands of which some are populated, most aren´t. Not more than 2.000 inhabitants live here permanently, visited annually by a multitude of sailors or people on vacation arriving by ferry or small planes. I couldn´t believe that these most beautiful archipelago – labelled an “Area of outstanding natural Beauty” – are still off of most people´s focus. Which can only mean good.
A part of this absence of mass tourism may be the remoteness of the islands and their exposure to the harsh weather condition and the harsh Atlantic swell, quickly changing when low pressure systems arrive from the high seas. This compendium gives a very detailed insight in how to safely approach the Scilly Isles, an overview on the tidal conditions inside and around the Isles and a detailed overview including charts of safe anchorages. I am sure that this book is a must-have for Scilly-Sailors and I am happy for having bought it.
Intimate insights by an Islander
Once there, what shall we do? Where the RCC book ends, another one might give answers and clues. It´s a self-published book printed in Poland by Amazon Fulfillment, written by Alan Peters. “The Isles of Scilly” is a book with some 110 pages, written by a Scilly-Lover. His aim is to give an intimate insight into what to do there and how to spend your precious time on the islands, discovering the nice spots, the secrets and the charming parts of St. Mary´s, Tresco or Samson Island.
Although self-published and thus quality-wise not the nicest print product to buy, I found his book most helpful. Alan Peters came to the Scilly Isles late in his life, returned multiple times and learnt the ways of the islanders. He describes in a most charming and very British way what makes the islands special – always with a wink. He describes his own holidays here and what they were doing and where they did it: Inspirational, the least.
So here we are: The Scilly Isles, definitely a dream destination for me in 2020. So, how to reach them? I definitely need a boat (maybe a week charter off Brest or Plymouth?) for sure. Either way, I find it so exciting thinking about a sailing trip to the Scilly Isles – a nice offshore passage, a tricky anchorage and islands with palm trees and real weird, lovable, strange but charming islanders. We´ll see if I can make it. What would be your #dreamdestination this year?
Read more about these #dreamdestinations:
Island of Flowers in the Atlantic Ocean: Madeira
Sailing to Gotland
Swedish Archipelago Sailing Adventure