Sailing Holidays in the Isles of Scilly
"A granite archipelago where the boundary between the land and sea is re-drawn with every tide. The Isles of Scilly are separated by deep blue channels slowly reconnect as glittering white beaches emerge with the falling tide. The rippled seabed exposed reveals starfish where we once sailed with hand bearing compass held tight."
Explore the Isles of Scilly Under Sail
We have been taking guest crew to this amazing archipelago 35 miles off Lands End on our wooden pilot cutter Eve of St Mawes since 1997. Today we have a select collection of traditionally rigged sailing vessels visiting the Isles of Scilly so you can navigate the myriad of rocks and channels, island hop, beachcomb, wildlife watch, snorkel in crystal clear seas and chill out amongst the sea pinks. At the end of the day you can watch the ocean sunset from wooden decks or enjoy the camaraderie of fellow travellers as you plan the next day’s adventure.
Explore Scilly on a Scillionian Pilot Cutter
For 100 years the pilot trade was the major economy for the Isles of Scilly. Their seaworthy pilot cutters and brave gig boats would meet incoming tall ships and earn a lucrative income by putting their pilot aboard. Eve of St Mawes is a pilot cutter replica design based on the Scillonian pilot cutters of 1870s and ‘Agnes’ is an authentic replica of the last pilot cutter to work out of St Mary’s. Both charter boats sail to Scilly from Falmouth, so you can experience their traditional sailing grounds off the Western Approaches. The historical connection with the islands has made both pilot cutters popular with the locals and their cream gaff sails are a common sight in the archipelago. Eve’s skipper usually hires the services of local wildlife guide Will Wagstaff for a private wildlife safari – which is included in the price (more on the wildlife below)
Sailing Ships Bound for Scilly
West Country Trading Ketches 'Irene' and 'Bessie Ellen' start the Scilly sailing season with a sail together from Falmouth to the World Gig Championships and then return late summer for more Scillies island hopping adventures after a roving sailing programme in Scotland and Ireland. Brixham Trawlers Provident or Leader usually have one ot two Scillies voyages in their summer programme.
These bigger ships take upto 12 guest crew and provide a more stable ship for passage making than our pilot cutters, but need more space and depth to anchor, so choice of anchorages are different.
Cornish Privateer amongst the Scilly Islands
Three masted lugger Grayhound made quite an impression on the islanders in 2013 and returned home to the Scillies and Cornwall after an Atlantic – Caribbean Circuit in 2014. Grayhound offers 7 day voyages where there is no set destination, but the Isles of Scilly is high on the agenda in summer. Alternatively you might be exploring their favourite mainland spots or crossing channel to Brittany are all possible. Marcus and Freya sail with their young son Malachi and create brilliant holidays for families (family discounts) and individuals. A replica of a Cornish Privateer, Grayhound is a hit with young pirates and teenagers who revel in ‘hands on’ things to do. She has ships cannon, and two rowing boats as ships tenders.
Pilotage & Wildlife
Seals play in the swirling kelp forests, flowers flourish in walled fields and the locals go about their daily business by boat. This is a paradise governed by the wind, waves and tide. Exploring the islands offers an intensive lesson in practical seamanship and navigation for adventurous beginners and experienced sailors alike. The passage from St Mawes or Falmouth, around the Lizard, past the lonely sentinel of Wolf Rock and way out west beyond Lands End, can be challenging or totally benign. The Atlantic Ocean frequently rewards you with sightings of dolphins, pilot whales, sunfish and basking sharks. The islands reveal themselves in tantalising stages as each island becomes distinctive on the horizon.
Once nestled in an anchorage, our landing stage is usually a beach so bare feet and sandals are the order of the day. The pace of life is so relaxed it can take a few days to adjust to this small scale world. At first our crews stride out to circumnavigate an island, but after a few hours you will be happy beach combing, sketching or snoozing amongst the sea pinks. With over a dozen anchorages in the archipelago to choose from and the ever changing Atlantic Ocean all around, no Scillies trip is ever the same.
Beach Combing & boats - a way of life
The Scillies boatmen ferry locals, tourists and supplies by boat between the main inhabited islands of St Mary's, Tresco, Bryher, St Martins and St Agnes. Daily lives are dependant on the tides and winds. Shipwreck cargoes over the centuries ocean flotsam has provides a motive for beach combing. The pilot trade was a major industry for 100 years on the islands so they extend a warm welcome to pilot cutters. Today each island has its own pilot gig boats and the racing each week is very competitive. Often at anchor we salute a hard working gig crew with an evening wine glass -as they power past us with 13ft oars.
Will Wagstaff Wildlife Safaris with Eve of St Mawes
When in the Isles of Scilly, Eve uses for one day the services of local expert Will Wagstaff. He will take us around one of the off islands and explain the nature, history, flora and fauna, ornithology and gossip of the Isles. There is no extra charge for his rewarding tour. It makes a brilliant introduction and insight into these fabulous islands in the sun. Will has an amazing telescope and tripod he carries for all to look through - and an eagle eye for birds and cetaceans. He also works in the Falklands, Antarctica and anywhere with good birds !
Wrecks Galore - Not a Place to be in a Storm
We have a good record of getting to the Scillies, but it is not always possible. There are no harbours or anchorages in the Scilly completely safe from all wind directions, so if there is bad weather forcast or heavy swell, the skipper may have to seek more sheltered sailing grounds.
Favourite Anchorages in the Scillies
Where do we go in the Scillies ? Some of our anchorages are well known. Others, we would rather not tell too many people.