Day 3 |
May 12, 2010

Scilly Isles

By Kara Weller, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 49° 55 ’S – 06° 19’W

Weather: scattered clouds and periodic showers, sunny in pm

Air temperature: 7.5° C

Wind: 16 km per hour from NorthEast

Pressure: 1014 hPa

The low-lying Scilly Isles lay outside our windows this morning with the little roofs of Hugh Town on charming St Mary’s just ahead of the ship, surrounded by rocky bluffs, flowering yellow gorse, and blue seas. And shortly after breakfast the first local tender boat, manned by two local seamen and their dogs, came to the sidegate to pick up all those wishing to explore the town.

Hugh Town, the main town here on St Mary’s Island was a charming town with narrow streets that wound around the hills, more boats than cars or people lay anchored or tied to jetties, or sat high and dry on the sand at low tide. A surprising number of shops and cafes could be found along the streets, and high above the town sat a 16th century castle.

Those interested in a nature hike set off at 10 am with Toby, Chris C. and Rich in search of birds and wildflowers, while others more interested in history went with Imogene and Chris E. along the town streets to look at the castle. But the rain, which began to fall quite heavily in the late morning, sent everyone scuttling either into the cafes to sample Cornish pasties, or back to the tender boat and the ship for some lunch. Another cruise ship was anchored near us and with many more passengers than the Prince Albert II, and the atmosphere of the town was a little bit altered by the presence of so many visitors.

Right after lunch the activities started up again. Our ship did not re-locate but stayed at its same anchorage, from which we launched the Zodiacs and took guests in the opposite direction of St Mary’s, and that was over to the island of Tresco, famous for its beautiful Abbey gardens. The Zodiac ride to shore was longer than yesterday, although rainy conditions on and off at the start were similar. Once on to the concrete slipway, guests could walk the short distance along a path to the garden entrance and go inside with a local guide to enjoy this incredible garden.

Since the Scilly Isles experience such a warm climate due to the Gulf Stream, a wide diversity of plants are able to be grown here that would not survive in other parts of the UK. A wealthy banker purchased the island in the 1830s, and as he was a plant collector and botanist who recognized the unique climate of the Scilly Isles, he began his great work of creating this garden, which is now such a major tourist attraction.

In the afternoon the sun came out and the temperature rose, and everyone enjoyed the walk back to the slipway in the sun and the easy Zodiac ride back to the ship for evening cocktails, a Recap & Briefing on the following day’s events and plans, and dinner.