Log – 24th May to 25th May 2017
After one last hearty homemade dinner on the Helford River, we were ready to leave the mainland and set sail for the Isles of Scilly. We filled the water tank with fresh water, got our sleeping bags out and prepared Kittiwake for our first night passage. Around 9.30pm a gentle breeze started blowing, so we hoisted our tender Marica on deck, put our warm clothes on and motored out of the river.
The sunset was truly amazing – the sky was lit with shades of orange, yellow and pink. We were filled with excitement, as neither of us had been on a night passage before. The sea was calm and the forecast perfect. We couldn’t stop smiling and staring at the beautiful sky and sea in awe.
As soon as we were out of the river, we hoisted the sails and made our way South, towards the Lizard Peninsula. Within an hour, the light in the sky dissolved and we found ourselves in a dark world lit by thousands of stars, with silver waves. We could still see the horizon thanks to the lights of the big ships crossing the channel.
We soon realised that Kittiwake was leaving a big stream of bioluminescence behind her. We could also see the little particles on the sides of the boat. It was magical – we had stars in the sky and luminous green plankton underneath us.
After passing the Lizard Peninsula the wind was coming right from behind us, so we changed the position of the sails to be wing on wing, using the spinnaker pole to keep the genoa as wide as possible. It was pleasant sailing – with the wind and waves on our stern.
I (Elena) stayed at the helm for about three or four hours – until the line of the horizon was gone. Not having any more reference points, I had to follow the GPS track (simply numbers) on the screen or the compass. Focusing my attention on numbers only, I started to feel a little queasy.
Convinced I could defeat seasickness with natural methods, I gave the helm to Ryan, had a ginger infusion and sat in the cockpit in my sleeping bag, trying to find the line of the horizon really hard. It didn’t work. I ended up feeling seasick all the way to the Scillies, completely forgetting I could have simply taken a motion sickness pill.
Poor Ryan had to steer for most of the way (until 10am) with small breaks. We decided then that a tiller pilot was going to become mandatory equipment for our next passage.
Around 3am we started to see some light in the sky, which lit the horizon. It was the sign dawn would soon arrive. When it came, around 5.30am, the sky turned yellow and orange. We could see our British flag flutter in the cold wind once again. We felt safe and a little proud – we managed to sail all night long without any issues.
Although dawn lifted my spirits, my stomach wasn’t feeling any better. After a few hours I took a seasickness pill and went to bed to wait for it to have effect. I thought I closed my eyes for just a second when I heard Ryan calling. It was 9.30am, the sun was shining and the wind picked up, a lot.
We were doing over 8 knots in biggish seas on our little boat –something could break. I jumped out of bed and grabbed the wheel, pointing the boat into the wind. Ryan quickly dropped the main and reduced the genoa to just a little triangle. When I turned the boat towards our destination, I could see land. The speed dropped to 4/5 knots and I was feeling better. I decided to stay at the helm and take us to St Mary’s – the main island on the Isles of Scilly.
A dolphin and a puffin came to welcome us to the islands on the way in, which was rather promising. I kept helming towards the red rocks of St Mary’s, passing Porth Cressa. Finally, we tucked into St Mary’s harbour around lunchtime.
It was a long, beautiful night. We were happy and proud to have made it. Although next time, I’ll take a motion sickness pill as soon as I start feeling queasy!