With some deep breaths and fingers crossed we navigated the slightly tricky passage up the Tresco channel to New Grimsby. With Rafiki’s draught, we had to get tide timings spot on.
We spent some thoroughly enjoyable days exploring Tresco, including a trip to the beautiful Abbey Gardens and another round of bicycle hire (this time with no cars!)
Our anchorage was in a magical spot. (Almost all of Scilly is beautiful – achingly beautiful!) As a long-distance cruising boat, we automatically seem to attract the attention of others in the “club”. We were invited to drinks by new friends, Marcus and Margie Hayward, from Island Kea II, which was anchored a few boats up from us. It turns out they know friends of some friends of ours – excuse enough to pass a very pleasant evening with them, watching the gig racing happening around us in our anchorage. Marcus and Margie were full of enthusiasm for their forthcoming trip – they were both setting off in their retirement to do what we had just done (and probably more). They are a wonderfully warm and highly sociable couple. I am sure they are going to have a marvellous trip of a lifetime, making the most of everything. It will be worth the tricky time they had to get to this point. They made us feel highly nostalgic (and perhaps just a little envious, as we were about to sail home!)
From the same anchorage we also motored by dinghy around the top of the island to Piper’s Hole: a cave in the rocks that is filled with fresh water. Even in the calm, sunny weather we had, it was a challenge to approach the rocks in the dinghy and scramble ashore. Emily, especially, was anxious of the landing but overcame her nerves to explore the cave.
Inside the cave, some bright sparks had floated bits of polystyrene in the water with tealight candles sitting on them. Sadly, the tealights had all gone out, but it was not hard to imagine how magical it must be to be there with them all lit and reflecting off the walls of the cave and in the water. We were certainly grateful for our wetsuits – a must for any swimming in Scilly that isn’t in an indoor heated swimming pool!
Also from Rafiki’s anchorage in New Grimsby, we were able to visit Bryher. We made friends with a kind Welsh family, who were camping in the picturesque campsite there and we enjoyed a lovely seafood meal at the Crab Shack. As James and Emily were almost the only children there, they happily helped with the cooking!
We moved to the other side of Tresco to anchor in the peace and quiet of St. Helen’s Pool. From there we went ashore to Old Grimsby, to attend the beautiful old parish church. We pottered about in the ancient graveyard. Many people had died early: in the world wars, in tragedies at sea or perhaps from hunger in former times of great poverty.
We also had our first close encounter with a seal, as we were motoring across in the dinghy to the beach on St. Helen’s. It seemed completely unfazed by us and happily continued to bask in the sunshine, as we slowly motored past.
Our last great treat from Tresco was an expedition by dinghy to the lighthouse on Round Island. What a beautiful, remote spot, with lovely views across the islands. There were no humans there when we were, but evidently the lighthouse has quite comfortable, yet simple accommodation for times when the light needs servicing. It was a paradise for sea birds, who had happily made it their home.