Jonty Pearce takes us to St Helen's Pool; a picturesque haven of peace and quiet with good holding
Nestled between the northern islands of the Isles of Scilly, St Helen’s Pool enjoys nearly all-round shelter – a rare attribute in these parts. With Tresco to the west, St Martin’s to the east, and the islands of St Helen’s and Tean to the north, only the south is open, though distant St Mary’s still acts as a windbreak and keeps the swell away. This picturesque expanse of water provides several small nooks and crannies to explore as well as a spacious deep-water anchorage.
Historically this was one of the best Scillonian havens for large craft seeking a roomy,
sheltered refuge when St Mary’s Road became too exposed. With good holding in sand and a depth of 5m in the centre, the islands ringing the anchorage keep it free of swell at all times except high tide. The pool can be accessed from Tean Sound, Old Grimsby
Sound, or from the Crow Sound area to the south. Pilotage through the channels
does need care, especially from the south or Old Grimsby, and for your first visit it is
wise to choose a rising tide and avoid Low
‘There are few pleasures greater than being surrounded by nothing but sleepy islands’
Water. My own preference is to navigate through Tean Sound or use St Helen’s Gap, a narrow channel to the north of the pool between St Helen’s and Tean Islands through which entrance can be gained from Round Island, marked by its magnifi cent lighthouse. We have used this passage several times and have found it straightforward, though you have to take care of the tidal cross current and fl anking rocky ledges. Start a cable off the east side of Round Island and head due south to leave the rocks off Didlev’s Point, the easternmost part of St Helen’s Island, well to starboard until you identify the gateway between West Gap Rock and East Gap Rock ahead, altering course to 190º to pass through the centre of the gap. Hold this course for another cable and watch the depth sounder as there is a bar here with least depth of 1m – check the tidal height to ensure you have enough clearance. Pick your spot, check the depth, drop the hook and you’ve arrived! Our favoured choice, enjoying the benefits of a lifting keel, is to anchor in East Porth, just to the south of Tean Island and protected to the south by Hedge Rock, though there is plenty of
deep water space in the main pool.
As for shoreside facilities, well, forget it. This is a haven of peace and quiet offering family picnics and beach barbecues rather than the revelry of hostelries. The neighbouring islands of Tresco and St Martin’s host local facilities of a shop and a pub, though on my last visit the Seven