Cruising To Scilly The Old-Fashioned Way

The Annabel J

There’s been a massive growth in the number of cruise liners visiting our islands, with talk of even bigger ships considering us as a destination next year.

But at least one company is taking a more traditional approach to arriving by sea.

The Annabel J is a replica of a 150 year-old Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter and her skipper says his alternative cruises to Scilly are proving as popular as ever.

Phil Cogdell has been bringing holidaymakers to the islands from his base in St Mawes in Cornwall, for the past five years. He started with just a single trip as part of his company’s range of itineraries to ports on the South coast of England, the Channel Islands and Northern France.

But he now runs at least three or four trips a year to Scilly on the Annabel J.

Phil says the 54 ft teak sailing vessel, with polished mahogany interior, can sleep up to 12 passengers, as well as the two full-time crew. The trips are popular with novice sailors, he says, particularly middle-aged people who find they have a bit more time on their hands and want to try something new.

The passengers get the chance to ‘muck-in’ and help with the rigging while sailing to and from the islands.

Phil says he loves coming to the Scillies, adding it’s undoubtedly the highlight of the sailing season. And his passengers clearly enjoy it too – he says around 30% of his passengers are repeat bookers, on their second or third trip to the islands.

The journey from St Mawes takes about 10 hours and the ship then stays here, moving from island to island, for four days. And as the passengers sleep on board, Phil says it can be one of the cheapest ways to visit.

Phil says they have back-to-back trips planned here during June, details of which can be found at the Annabel J website.