The Pellew is Falmouth's largest pilot cutter, built in the UK over 150 years ago, but is more than just a relic from the past.
The upstream of the Truro River is not where innovation in the world of sailing is born. High-tech superyachts at the Pendennis shipyard in Falmouth are unlikely to arrive anytime soon. Yet it is here, among the light industry and auto mechanics, between scrap metal and gas storage tanks, that one of the most interesting recent projects in British yachting has emerged - a pilot cutter named Pellew.
To begin with, a little terminology in order to. Cutter (or cutter) and cutter are different things:
Cutter (cutter) (from the English cutter) - a type of single-mast sailing ship of the XVII-XX centuries. Cutter one mast with an oblique, usually gaff, sail rig, with two staysails. Used for pilotage, messenger and intelligence services, as well as in customs and coast guard.
In the same time:
Cater (from the English cutter) - the general name for small ships or small ships of the navy. The main difference between small boats and boats is the presence of a motor as a power plant.
Historically, “cutter” came from “cutter”. At the same time, confusion sometimes arises in the meaning of words, especially because of their consonance in Russian.
This is just arrogance, insanity and atavism. But it’s such a romantic idea that it’s worth doing!
In February 2020, the 68-foot Pellew hull was launched from the Rhoda Mary shipyard.
Luke Powell, boat builder and designer, sailor and art man says: “There is no logic in wooden boats. This is just arrogance, insanity and atavism. But it’s such a romantic idea that it’s worth doing. ”
Think about it and you can see why Powell built a replica of the Pellew, Falmouth's largest cutter built in the UK over 150 years ago. After a not so optimistic start to 2020, she kicks off her first charter season this summer.
Luke already had extensive experience in building ships (eight boats since 1993). In addition, he had a hand in the restoration of several sea boats. His biggest previous project was the Agnes cutter, a pretty 46ft yacht. She also operates charter flights.
Pellew - "workhorse"
Imagine a Land Rover from the late 1800s and you roughly get it.
However, Pellew is a game changer. She is one third longer than Agnes, her displacement is three times more - 74 tons.
It looks more like painting
Her 14-inch keel, frames and beams are made of Lincolnshire oak and braced in bronze. A 9 ton external lead keel complements the 14 ton internal ballast (a nifty trick to increase the internal volume).
There is no point in building an ugly boat. You must fall in love with her
Initial blueprints usually take Luke a month. “Then I leave it for a month to see it with a fresh eye. It's more like painting. "
As with painting, Powell believes that aside from some of the dimensions of the cutter, the 98% of good design comes down to aesthetics. “There is no point in building an ugly boat. You must fall in love with her. "
As Tom Cunliffe of Yachting World said in the introduction to Powell's stunning book Working Sail: “Luke Powell's boats stand out in any seascape for their beauty. He has an unusual outlook on certain things, but he never compromises the safety of the crew. Security this is his first priority. "
Pellew stands on the Penryn River in Falmouth. Its spars and blocks still shine like conquera. She seems to have been launched just yesterday.
Her dark hull is heavy, making nearby fiberglass yachts look like plastic yogurt containers. New boats leap frantically from overhang to 23-foot bowsprit.
An islet of civilization on a cutter - galleyand it is, surprisingly, a very modern place. It runs on the starboard side and has a longitudinal shape. There is also an electric stove, oven and (what a luxury!) Dishwasher.
“I love being on board,” Powell says with a smirk. “It looks like a house. This is the boat I've always had to build. "
Powell is an optimist: chatty, romantic, down-to-earth when it comes to wooden cutters, he has an almost boyish enthusiasm.
In addition, he is as passionate as you can imagine a man who sailed to Greece at the age of nine with his artist parents in a 40-foot fishing boat; Leonard Cohen became a friend of the family during their time on Hydra.
Powell returned to England ten years later to learn his craft as a shipbuilder. At 21, he returned to Greece, where an almost abandoned cutter caught his attention.
Starting Working Sail
By then he was working as a marine artist and had created 50 paintings for the owner of the cutter for £ 3,000. It was while sailing in Greece on this boat that Powell came up with a brilliant idea.
“The continuity of design and shipbuilding in our time simply stops. I thought, “Isn't anyone going to do something to keep this direction going? Are we just going to leave all the work of our ancestors? " The result was Working Sail.
The romance of the sea and the heritage of our ancestors are what Pellew is woven from. During the heyday of pilot cutters, before boat design became the preserve of naval engineers, any boat owner could throw up a respectable wooden boat.
It was just part of the craft. Knowledge passed down from generation to generation, based on designs well proven on the water.
Then Powell's project got really interesting. After a project to restore a merchant schooner in Cornwall was terminated due to a lack of funds, friend and keen sailor Brian Payne proposed a deal to Powell.
He will donate £ 900,000 from the sale of his independent college in Rochester so that Working Sail can build a boat from scratch. (The total cost of the Pellew was £ 1.2 million.) There was only one condition - young trainees should work on assembling the ship.
The solution was simple. “Knowledge dies if it's not shared,” says Powell. "Pellew is about keeping those old skills alive."
Five young shipbuilders, between the ages of 20 and 30, were hired to work alongside an experienced construction team of three. Sam Coltman, 26, was lured out of Pendennis to manufacture metal fittings.
Everyone at the time realized that Pellew was something special. These boats are something completely different.
“Everything is different in a wooden boat: movement, creaks. They feel alive. "
Pellew's convincing solidity
Powell launches a 125-horsepower John Deere engine right inside the Pellew. The propeller shaft was offset by almost a meter from the center of the port side. A strange decision. This made Powell uneasy on the first trial.
"I wasn't sure if we could get past the first bend of the river [because the rampart was displaced], but everything went well."
“We lift the mainsail on one of two not quite authentic hydraulic winches. This is actually a scam, ”says Powell, but these winches are a must. There is a young team on board that will not cope with the original rigging and will do just that for initial practice.
Affirmative "no" to museum exhibits
Not everyone agrees with Powell's approach. Some have argued that replicas devalue the original boats; that the focus should be on preservation, not re-creation.
Returning to land, Powell sarcastically responded to critics: "They would rather have one unique boat left so that they can sit around and polish it."
“Boats are cars,” he says. “They have to function. The sea is no nicer for a boat that is 200 years old. When they take something like "Cutty Sark" and begin to fervently think about saving firewood, it's pointless. A real boat is form and power to conquer at sea, not material.
So yachts are not just made to sail, they are built - I would recommend you sit down now, classic yacht owners - and made "disposable".
This is a perfectly valid statement from someone who has just spent five years creating one of these.
“Boats should be mortal, not so precious that you are afraid to break them,” he explains.
“If you break one, make another! You can do it with joy if the tradition is still alive. And the only way to preserve it is to build, not repair. This means new boats and new shipbuilders. "
There is speculation that Pellew is not the only replica, albeit the largest. However, this is one of the most interesting boat launches in the UK in recent years.
Combine the resurgence of the Falmouth pilot cutter, the blood of a new generation of shipbuilders, and Powell's refreshing take on yachting, and Pellew is something more. More than just a big wooden boat.
“She personifies freedom. She reveals to us what is hidden behind the horizon. That's what Pellew is. " With her Category 0 MCA rating, the horizons are endless.
So what happens if Powell is tasked with creating the first 110-foot merchant schooner in Cornwall of the modern era?
Then he replies, breaking into a smile, "I guess I'll have to say yes, right?"
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