Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Tuesday, 7th June

How would you manage without friends? Chas and his wife Pat have been my friends since we met back in the sixties. Chas and I were teachers at the Episcopal School for Boys in Exeter, and we both shared interests in canoeing and sailing. Although we are separated geographically, because I live in the south east of England and Chas lives in the far south west, we have maintained contact over four decades. I am grateful to Chas and Pat for the generous and practical support they have given me whenever I’ve been sailing in the Falmouth area.

Today Chas met me at Truro Station and took me in his car to the Percuil River where ‘Bumper’ has been moored for the past four days. After making the boat ready for the short trip to St Mawes I took her there to spend the night on a vacant mooring.

The weather seems set for the next couple of days, with a high pressure system over eastern England, and because of that, here in the south west, there should be easterly or north easterly winds which will be ideal for a passage to the Scilly Isles.

From St Mawes to Hugh Town, on the Island of St Marys, is a distance of 60 nautical miles, which includes a track south of the most southerly point of England, i.e., the Lizard peninsula. A tidal race extends two miles south of this notorious headland.

In times past I’ve had many a struggle while sailing around Lizard Point, which most likely derived its name because the rocks that extend south into the English Channel resemble the back of a gigantic lizard. When seen at night by the light of the flashing lighthouse these pointed rocks are most terrifying, especially when glimpsed through gaps in a veiled fog which reflects the light. I know, because I and my brother Fred had just that experience when returning from an aborted attempt to sail around Britain as competitors in the 1974 Around Britain Race organised by the Royal Western Yacht Club at Plymouth.

Tomorrow morning if conditions remain favourable I hope to set off for the Scilly Isles. It’ll be a very long day at sea, and perhaps into the night before arriving at the Islands.

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