Every year visitors return to the Isles of Scilly, something about the pace of life and welcoming community keeps drawing them to return to the islands year after year.
The most popular way to get around on Scilly is by boat, the islands are small and close to each other, so it’s easy to island hop from one to another. There are regular trips to the other islands-inhabited and uninhabited as well as wildlife and fishing trips. On the largest island of St. Mary’s there is the St. Mary’s Boatman’s Association, St. Agnes is run by St. Agnes Boating and Bryher, Tresco and St. Martins are run by Tresco Boats.
We caught up with local boatman John Peacock from the island of St. Agnes, to find out what it’s like to be a boatman on the Isles of Scilly…
Hi John, can you tell us about a typical working day?
“I start my day at 8am by taking the Wildlife Trust to an off-island to do a contracted habitat management job, then at 10:15 I take the first trip across from St. Agnes to St. Mary’s with passengers wanting to explore St. Mary’s, at 10:50 I run a trip from St. Agnes to Tresco.
At 12:30 I head back to St. Mary’s to meet the Scillonian and take day trippers or holiday makers to St. Agnes, then it’s time for a break! I go home for lunch on St. Agnes which is about a 5-minute bike ride from the quay then start again at 15:15 to take passengers back to St. Mary’s for the Scillonians return journey to Penzance. Some evenings I’ll meet passengers on St. Mary’s coming in on the later flights. I own two boats called Spirit and the Enterprise, the Enterprise is used for Charters. We’re a small team, I tend to have two skippers throughout the summer season and my day finishes around 9pm!
“Definitely taking passengers out on wildlife tours to the Eastern Isles and Western Rocks.”
Can you tell us about the wildlife tours you run?
“I work on a volunteer basis with the Seabird Recovery project and the Wildlife Trust to raise awareness of endangered birds. Every Sunday through April-September we depart St. Agnes at 1pm to see the wildlife. We mainly visit the Western Rocks as this has a large bird colony, we tend to see Puffins, Guillemots, Razor Bills, Sunfish, seals and dolphins.”
“Every Sunday in July we meet the passengers coming off the Scillonian and take day trip passengers out to see the wildlife. We also run wildlife tours every Wednesday from St. Agnes at 1pm with the Wildlife Trust on-board as a guide, it’s interactive and insightful for all ages! There are binoculars and guides for everyone to use, and we donate £2 from every ticket to the Wildlife Trust.”
“I enjoy walking around St. Agnes with my wife and our bearded collie Seamus. I like the atmosphere on St. Agnes as it’s relaxed and has a great community spirit.”
Did you grow up on Scilly?
“Yes, I did, mum and dad moved over here in the 60’s but my great grandmother moved here in the 1920’s. I went away to study engineering and left the islands for ten years but soon missed the place and came back to take over dad’s boat business.”
If you’d like to experience one of John’s wildlife trips visit: www.stagnesboating.co.uk/
Discover your island paradise this summer by visiting the Isles of Scilly, there are multiple flights to the islands from Land’s End, Newquay and Exeter airports; or you can choose to sail on-board the Scillonian III passenger ferry from Penzance up to seven days a week.
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