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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The two schooners owned by South Street Seaport Museum, New York, were active in the summer.

The 1893 wooden 74ft ‘Fredonia’ type fishing schooner Lettie G Howard from Pensacola, Florida, runs educational trips for children, while the steel 57ft Pioneer undertakes three-hour trips around the harbour with passengers.

The British wooden replica tops’l schooner HMS Pickle, owned by Mal Nickerson, owner of the Humber sloop Spider T, has been at Keadby on the River Trent and is going to be based at Hull for charter work.

In Devon, the Brixham trawling smacks had such a good reputation for being good sea boats that even after the last smack was built for fishing, smaller craft were built as yachts. One of the Brixham builders J W & A Upham of Brixham built four of these smack yachts and one of these is the 53ft Our Boy, built in 1933. In 1959, her name was changed to Regard in honour of the Brixham trawler Regard BM54 that had been lost at the Dunkirk Evacuation. This trawler yacht has been rebuilt by Toby Slater at Maylandsea, Essex and returned to her original name Our Boy. Next year he plans to start charter work with her.

The Vigilance Preservation Company operates the 78ft Brixham trawler Vigilance, built by Upham in 1926. The last Brixham trawler to be rebuilt was the 1895 trawler Pilgrim, which is based at Brixham and Dartmouth. The Trinity Sailing Foundation at Brixham operates the former trawling smacks 1892 80ft Leader, the 1924 70ft Provident and the gaff cutter Golden Vanity all built at Galmpton on the River Dart. This year, the 70ft Provident was back sailing again after being laid up to have a new engine fitted.

The fishing smacks used to race in annual regattas at Brixham in the Victorian period and there was another series of races between 1919-39. In 1953, two races were held in Tor Bay over a seventeen and a half mile course, which was won by the Provident. The following day, the 1917 Rulewater won the race. The present Brixham Heritage Regatta was started in 1997 and was sailed this year on May 29, three times round a course in the Brixham area of Tor Bay. The trawlers Pilgrim, Vigilance and Provident started at five-minute intervals and they were the only craft allowed to compete for the King George V Cup, which was won by Pilgrim. The Large Work Boats Class was won by the 3-masted lugger Grayhound and the winner of the Work Boat class was Tony Knight’s Brixham based 42ft 1930 Looe lugger IBIS. Every time the Grayhound overtook a trawler, one of her cannons was fired. She has two 1862 cannons which were dredged up from St John’s Lake, Millbrook in Cornwall.

This is the Grayhound’s fourth season and she has already been sailed over 45,000 miles. The lugger’s owner-captain Marcus Rowden built her on the lines of a 1790s smugglers lugger that had been built on the beach at Cawsand. The lugger’s best achievement has been to sail at 14.5 knots and 180 miles on passage, over a twenty-four hour period. In the eighteenth century, mining made Cornwall wealthy and there was a high demand for luxury goods. Smuggling was well organized and the London bankers financed the contraband loaded at St Peter’s Port. At Marazion, smugglers used to close the roads when a train of pack animals was going through and the church bell was rung as a signal when the roads could be used again.

The Grayhound is on charter to Transoceanic Wind Transport, making voyages, all under sail, with cargoes and passengers. The Grayhound loads up to 4.5tonnes of beer at Falmouth or Brixham and delivers them to Roscoff or Douarnenez and returns with French wine. As they need somewhere to store sails in the winter, Marcus and Freya Rowden have bought a cottage with a barn in Douarnenez, but will continue chartering.

More on this and other news in Sea Breezes Magazine - September 2016 Issue
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