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The Cove

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Overview





The Cove is a small south opening inlet that lies between St Agnes and its adjacent isle of Gugh in Scilly. It provides an anchorage in a quiet and natural setting.

The Cove is a good anchorage providing shelter from southwest round through west through north to east. It is also one of island group's most straightforward anchorages to approach and can be accessed at any stage of the tide with the benefit of daylight.
Please note

It can be subject to a chop at high water Springs when developed north and north-westerly winds occur.




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Keyfacts for The Cove
Facilities
Waste disposal bins availableShop with basic provisions availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaPost Office in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
5 metres (16.4 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
November 20th 2019

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Waste disposal bins availableShop with basic provisions availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaPost Office in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

49° 53.508' N, 006° 20.178' W

This is in the middle of the cove in about 2 metres LAT.

What is the initial fix?

The following The Cove Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
49° 53.166' N, 006° 19.870' W
This is about 250 metres outside the entrance and on the alignment of the middle of The Bar with The Cow rock located 0.8 miles north by northwest off the entrance to Porth Conger. The alignment leads safely into and up The Cove.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern England’s coastal overview from Land's End to Isles of Scilly Route location

  • The Cove primary hazard is Little Hakestone that covers and uncovers and is situated on the southwestern corner of the entrance on the St Agnes side. It may be easily avoided by keeping to the Hakestone on the Gugh side of the entrance which is steep to.

  • Keeping The Cow rock over the middle of The Bar provides a clear line in through the entrance and straight up the middle of the cove past its fringing rocks.


Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to The Cove for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Porth Cressa - 0.8 miles NE
  2. St Mary's Pool - 1.1 miles NNE
  3. Windmill Cove - 1.9 miles NE
  4. New Grimsby - 2.6 miles N
  5. Old Grimsby - 2.6 miles N
  6. Higher Town Bay - 2.8 miles NNE
  7. St Helen's Pool - 2.8 miles N
  8. Tean Sound - 2.9 miles NNE
  9. Perpitch - 3 miles NNE
  10. Bull's Porth - 3.1 miles NNE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Porth Cressa - 0.8 miles NE
  2. St Mary's Pool - 1.1 miles NNE
  3. Windmill Cove - 1.9 miles NE
  4. New Grimsby - 2.6 miles N
  5. Old Grimsby - 2.6 miles N
  6. Higher Town Bay - 2.8 miles NNE
  7. St Helen's Pool - 2.8 miles N
  8. Tean Sound - 2.9 miles NNE
  9. Perpitch - 3 miles NNE
  10. Bull's Porth - 3.1 miles NNE
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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What's the story here?
The Cove
Image: Michael Harpur


The Cove lies between the island of St Agnes and its small near neighbour of Gugh. The islands are connected by a tombolo called The Bar, locally known as Gugh Bar, that connects to Gugh from the eastern side of St Agnes forming bays on either side. The Bar comprises a narrow spit of boulders and sand that dry to 4.6 metres.


Gugh, left, Porth Conger north of The Bar and The Cove to the south
Image: Michael Harpur


The Cove lies to the south is of The Bar with Porth Conger, which has the island's principal quay, on the opposite northern side. The Cove is the larger and the deeper of the two bays with 7 metres or more in the middle and ample room for 20 boats to anchor with excellent sand holding.


The Bar starting to cover
Image: Michael Harpur


The Bar covers at springs when there is a noticeable tidal stream from north to south. When covered it becomes dangerous to swim and the anchorage loses a measure of its northerly protection and a chop will occur in developed conditions. During developed southwesterly and easterly winds The Cove is also subject to swell near high water and is entirely open to the south. Apart from this, it is an excellent anchorage.


How to get in?
The Cove as seen from the northwest from above St Agnes
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use southwestern England’s coastal overview from Land's End to Isles of Scilly Route location for local approaches. The Cove should be visible from about a mile off the south coast of St Agnes.

The approach to The Cove is straightforward from the south. The Cove is approached between the Tean Plat Point and The Hoe. Tean Plat Point lies a ⅓ of a mile northeast Horse Point the southern extremity of St Agnes. Standing a ¼ off Horse Point clears all the dangers off the southern end of St Agnes which comprise the drying Wingletang Ledges that lie 250 metres south-westward of the 2-metre high Great Wingletang rock. The Hoe, which is a small rocky islet off the southern extremity of Gugh, is steep-to.
Please note

Vessels approaching from Saint Mary’s Sound should keep the charted alignment of Pidney Brow, a 13-metre high hill on the southern end of St Agnes, just open of The Hoe, to clear Cuckold’s Ledge that dries to 1.4 metres.




Yacht rounding The Hoe and Hakestone
Image: Michael Harpur


The Cove is then entered between the 2-metre high Hakestone and the anchorage's primary hazard of Little Hakestone. Little Hakestone is situated on the southwestern corner of the entrance 300 metres southwest of Hakestone on the opposite side. It covers and uncovers to 3 metres and may be easily avoided by keeping to the Hakestone side of the entrance which is steep to.


The Cow over the middle of The Bar leads north by northwestward up through The
Cove

Image: Michael Harpur


A useful leading line is provided by prominent The Cow rock, located 0.8 miles north by northwest off the entrance to Porth Conger. Keeping this more or less in the middle of The Bar provides a clear line through the entrance, passing about 50 metres or so east of Little Hakestone, and straight up the middle of the cove past its fringing rocks.


Yacht proceeding up The Cove
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location The initial fix is set on this alignment so keeping on steering and course of about 335°T or north by northwest carries the boat in through the entrance and up to the anchoring with depths reducing gently northward over a bottom mostly sand and weed. The shoreline is fringed with rocks that are easy to see on account of their covering of weed but the head of the bay, leading up to The Bar, is of fine sand.


Yacht anchored near the head of The Cove
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Anchor toward the centre near the head of the cove where there will most likely be several other boats. There should be plenty of room and 2 metres will be found closer to the head of The Cove and deeper waters of about 7 metres toward the centre of the bay. A prominent warning diamond on the rocks above the beach indicate the position of telegraph cables which are well charted. These are well buried in deeper waters and as such do not usually present a problem but closer in, in the shallower waters, it is advisable to use a tripping line.


Land by tender on The Bar or on the beach below
Image: Michael Harpur


Land on The Bar or on the beach or just below on a beach located within a St Agnes bight.


Why visit here?
The aptly named cove is a wonderful anchorage and one of the easiest to access for vessels arriving in from south or east. An anchorage like this is a useful asset in this island group.

For laying in open water, at a junction of five international shipping routes and in an area subject to poor visibility the 200 or so islands, islets and rocks, many of which cover, have taken their toll down through the centuries. Records only begin in 1599 and for a period of 258 years when there was no official government or institutional recording of ship losses other than Lloyd's List, which for some reason was notoriously inaccurate and incomplete, 420 vessels foundered on rocks around the islands. After 1857, when records became reliable, another 400 wrecks occurred to the present day. Approaching an estimated total of 900 losses in all for this period, Scilly has one of the highest concentrations of shipwrecks in the UK. These disasters are still taking place to the present day. On 26 March 1997 MV Cita a German-owned cargo shipwrecked at Newfoundland Point, St Mary's. She was en route to Ireland and on automatic pilot whilst the crew slept. Fortunately, the St Mary's lifeboat took all nine Polish crew ashore. This was far from the case in history.

Scilly’s worst disaster occurred in 1707 when the British Mediterranean fleet, under Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, was returning to England from Gibraltar after an attack on the French port of Toulon. Shovell was the hero of many naval battles, including an attack on Tripoli and the capture of Gibraltar and Barcelona. Because of a combination of the bad weather and the inability to accurately calculate longitude at the time, the fleet of twenty-one ships thought they were sailing safely west of Ushant off the coast of Brittany. Sadly they were some hundred miles north of that position, so when Shovell issued the command to steer in a northeasterly direction for the English Channel the fleet was then steering directly for the Isles of Scilly. Before the mistake was realised, the Gildstone located in the Western Rocks a little over three miles southwest of The Cove - also known as Outer Gilstone Rock to distinguish it from a rock off Old Town Bay on St Mary's and the greatest hazard for a vessel approaching from the east, was about to claim one of its many victims. And one of the greatest maritime disasters of British history was about to occur.

At 8 pm on the 2 October, under the commanded of Captain Edmund Loades with Admiral Shovell on board, HMS Association ran up on the Gildstone. Observed by those on board HMS St George, HMS Associationwas seen to go down in three or four minutes' time taking all its hands, which would have been a full crew of at least 800, with it. Three other ships were just as quickly lost Eagle, Romney and Firebrand. It was all over in a matter of minutes but over the following weeks more than 1,450 bodies washed ashore of what was thought to be of the 2,000 were lost.

Shovell's body and those Captain Loades and both his stepsons were found in Porthellick Cove on St Mary's, almost 7 miles northeast from where they were wrecked. It was thought that Shovell and the captain of HMS Association, along with Shovell’s two stepsons, left his flagship in one of its boats only to be drowned whilst trying to get ashore. At that time, Scilly had a wild and lawless reputation and local legend has it that Shovell struggled ashore only to be murdered by a woman for the sake of a priceless emerald ring he wore. Several historians doubt the murder story as there is no indication that the ring was recovered and the legend stems from a romantic and unverifiable deathbed confession.

Regardless, horrific loss of life brought the problem of measuring longitude at sea into sharp focus and it was referred to in the subsequent 1714 Longitude Act. The act would enable John Harrison, the self-educated English carpenter and clockmaker, to invent the marine chronometer. His chronometer finally solved the problem of calculating longitude while at sea and transformation seagoing navigation.

Today, although The Cove may be the nearest anchorage to the site of this terrible disaster it appears a perfect pocket of bliss during the season. From a boating point of view, it is truly a beautiful anchorage and one of the easiest to address in a complicated island group. What may be overlooked is just how serviceable it is for passage making.

For those approaching St Mary’s, it makes an ideal easy initial set down point to rest and square away before making a final approach approaching St Mary’s Harbour and Hugh Town. St Mary's Sound is not without its problems. The flanking landmasses can serve to make it more challenging than other approaches because of its effects on tidal streams. These can attain significant velocities in the narrow channel making St. Mary's Sound a rough and unpleasant body of water at times. Heavy southwest round through west to northwest winds can create a rough sea over the shoals over its northwest end. If St Mary's Sound is temporarily ugly or a foul tide is running, The Cove may prove the perfect alternative.

Likewise, it is an ideal staging point to setting up a long passage, south, west or eastward, after escaping the clutches of St Mary’s Harbour albeit requiring a measure of visibility to safely exit.


What facilities are available?
Waste disposal above the jetty at Porth Conger and Public toilets opposite. Wi-Fi at the Turk's Head public house. The Post Office, Near Middle Town, about 10 minute's walk, provide basic provisions including frozen food, wines, occasionally bread and general tourist fare. St Mary's Boatmen's Association provide ferry services to St Mary's as well as trips to other islands from Porth Conger quay.


With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, eOceanic.


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