IOPCC Trip Report

Isles of Scilly Advanced Paddling & Expedition Skills with Paddlecrest Coaching

29th March - 4th April 2013


Paddlers Coach
John Christmas Richard Uren
Paddlecrest Coaching
Mark Bardsley
Michael Axler  
Sally Axler  
Jane Seigne  
Tony Sandry  
Barbara Hackworthy  
Ian Hackworthy  

We all met at Trefenton in the Bone Valley at Heamoor near Penzance. This is the home of Richard Uren aka Paddlecrest Coaching who had organised the trip for IoPCC. Richard is a Level 5 sea coach so we would be in experienced hands.

It had been the coldest March since records began and the weather was showing no signs of improving. Wind-Guru’s lowest value for wind speed in the following week’s forecast was 25 knots. Not good.

However 7 of the 8 paddlers arrived early enough to enjoy a great meal at the Sportsman’s Arms in Heamoor before sleeping in Richards Garden. Some camped some slept in vehicles.

Friday 29th March

We were woken at 0600 by the arrival of Jane. She had been working late on the Thursday so arrived early enough on Friday morning for her boat and kit to be loaded ready for it to be taken down to Scillonian III before 0800. The boats were taken down on the trailer and the rest of us piled into Ian’s van. The sea looked very stormy and rough. It was a cold grey windy morning. The cafe next to the Quay opened at 8am. It was warm in there and we took over the place while we had breakfast. We heard the whisper that the Scillonian crew had had a special briefing to warn them of a very rough crossing. First Stugeron.

Our trailer of kayaks sat on the harbour side. We waited on the quay in the cold until someone (not sure who it was) noticed we were standing outside a waiting room Duh!

We waited and waited and then we noticed a mass exodus from the quay. Boarding was delayed until 1330. We all wandered off into town. I bought warm thick socks and scoured the charity shops for more reading material. We then enjoyed brunch (2nd Stugeron) in the cosy Vault cafe before returning to the quay to board. We elected for the lower deck and settled into the reclining seats. 3rd Stugeron.

Most of us were feeling quite ‘relaxed’ by this time due to the amount of anti sea sickness drugs. The crossing was very rough, but the sea was generally behind us with the Easterly wind and the motion of the boat quite easy to ride. Nonetheless we were all very pleased when Great Ganilly was spotted and the Scillonian reached the shelter of The Road into Hugh Town.

Richard had arranged with Ted from the Garrison campsite for all our bags to be taken up to the campsite by Landover. Ted towed the kayak trailer to Porth Mellon where it was parked in the boat yard there for the week.

We walked up the hill to the Garrison bending into the strong wind. Our bags had arrived and we put our tents up in the section assigned to us. It was a small field surrounded by tall hedges for shelter. We got the tents up and the gear sorted out just before it was dark and then went back down to Hugh Town to the Mermaid Inn where we had supper. Then back up the hill again to warm cosy tent. Multiple layers of down and fleece kept us very snug and comfortable.

Saturday 30th March

The day was bright and sunny with much less wind than we were expecting. Down to Porth Mellon for a 1000 launch. We headed off up the coast of St Marys to Bar Point. As we came round the exposed northern end of the Island the sea state picked up. We decided to cross over to the Eastern Isles keeping well above the sand bar which had breaking waves on it and head for Brandy Point on St Martins before dropping down with the wind to Higher Town Bay where we stopped on the beach for lunch. Although bright and sunny it was very cold and various shelters and ponchos were used to hide under. After lunch we went across to Tresco. There was a little surf wave but only Tony was successful in getting a decent ride. There was a bit of rough water and movement around Tobacco Point which everyone successfully negotiated before heading back across to Halangy Point on St Marys and following the coast back to Porth Mellon. It was quite a long walk back up the hill to the campsite and only Sally and Michael were brave enough to have a shower. Once again it was down to the warmth of the Mermaid for supper.

The 'team' before leaving Penzance Rough seas at Penzance
The Garrison Campsite View across to Tresco
Saturday's launch at Porth Mellon The figurehead museum at Tresco Abbey Gardens
Rolling practice at Porth Mellon Jane using one of them posh strokes
Bards with his take on a rocky landing Sally and Michael
View from Samson Bryher lunchstop on Wednesday
Cromwell's Castle Sunset over St Marys harbour
Spero's Restaurant Steval Point
Loading the boats for the trip home Leaving the Scillies


Pictures of the paddle are on the
Galleries Page

Sunday 31st March.

The day was cold grey and extremely windy. A no paddling decision was made early in the day. Sally and Michael went off bird watching. Richard had a migraine and spent most of the day asleep and everyone else walked around the Island at various times and in different directions. It was very rough and windy but it was dry and the sun came out in the afternoon. Down to the pub again for supper.

Monday 1st April.

More of the same. Cold grey and very windy. John, Barbara and Ian opted for a trip to Tresco Abbey Gardens. Michael and Sally went walking and bird watching, Tony went off walking round the island again. Bards picked Richards brains on navigation and then at about 1300 when the wind eased ever so slightly Richard, Bards and Jane went paddling. Not very far – just up the coast of St Marys towards Bar Point but it was heroic given the conditions. What was more heroic was that on their return to Porth Mellon, Bards and Jane practiced rolling. Apparently the water is a bit warmer than on the mainland! Back up the hill to the campsite. An extra hour of daylight as it was now summertime then down to the pub again in the evening for supper. Back up the hill to the campsite.

Tuesday 2nd April

More of the same, but just not quite as windy. Sally and Michael decided not to paddle but the rest of us were on the water by 1200. We picked our way up the St Marys Coast against the wind. Richard decided that it was possible to make the crossing to Tresco so keeping close together we went across surfing onto the beach just south of Crab’s ledge. We went into the dunes to find some shelter from the bitterly cold wind while we had some lunch. Not everyone was confident that we would make it back A group from Sea Kayaking Cornwall had had to leave their boats on Tresco the day before as they couldn’t paddle back into the wind. Back to the beach. No improvement . It was going to be Force 6 on the nose. We buddied up and made 2 short hops to the shelter of two skerries and then set out aiming for the isolated danger mark just off Helengy Point. It took about 30 minutes of hard paddling before we could break off the wind and head to the shelter of Toll’s Porth. On the way back Richard had Bards trying a landing onto a rocky shore which was quite entertaining. Bards and Jane then had some more rolling practice. Richard had a go in Bards boat and discovered how tippy and difficult it is. Back to Porth Mellon – up to the campsite. We went to the pub at Old Town – a longer walk but good food and drink.

Wednesday 3rd April

Our last day paddling. More of the same. Cold Easterly wind, dry and bright. Everyone went paddling and we were on the water at 1000. Once again up the coast of St Marys but not so far this time as we were going across to Samson. The wind was not so strong and the sea state was slight so everyone had a great time. The colours of the sea and beaches were superb. Very Caribbean. On Samson we walked up North Hill and had a spectacular view over the Islands. Back afloat we headed across Tresco Flats and paddled up to Hangmans Island next to Bryher before landing on the beach there for lunch. It was quite sheltered and for once we were out of the wind enjoying the sunshine. After lunch we went up towards Shipman Head. The sea state picked up quite dramatically as we began to emerge form the shelter of New Grimsby so we turned tail and went across to look at Cromwell’s Castle. Unfortunately the upper part was closed as the railings had just been painted ready for the summer. Only Jane got paint on her hands!

We enjoyed a calm, pleasant paddle down through Tresco Flats across Appletree Bay before once more emerging out into the wind. We had a brief rest and refuel stop on yesterday’s lunch beach before heading back. The wind was not was strong as yesterday so it was a bit easier getting across to Helengy Point. No messing about today as it was already 1800.

Dinner was at Spero’s, the beach side restaurant at Porth Mellon whose yard we had kept the trailer in for the week.

Thursday 4th April

Everything was packed up and ready for Ted to take down to the Scillonian at 1000. We then went down to Porth Mellon and sorted the boats out and loaded them securely onto the trailer ready for the crossing. It was very windy and rough. Everyone elected to take Stugeron except Bards and Michael. The Scillonian (aka Vomit Comet) lived up to its name. It was heading into the waves and it bucked and bounded its way across to Penzance. I for one was very glad when I spotted Longships and knew that soon we would be in some shelter and the movement would calm down. Without drugs I am sure I would have been sick. Michael was very sick along with many others.

On arriving at Penzance, Karen, Richard’s wife met us and took Richard and Ian up to get the vans while the rest of us collected up the bags and retrieved the trailer. We were all on our way from Trefenton by 2000.

Considering the appallingly cold conditions, we did a lot of paddling. Camping in the cold wasn’t a problem. The Isles of Scilly are a wonderful sea kayaking destination with endless possibilities given good weather. Even in poor weather it is usually possible to find somewhere sheltered to paddle. If not – the walking is very good.

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Report: Barbara Hackworthy
Pics: Barbara Hackworthy



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