BM45 Blog

It was 124 years ago this month that Pilgrim was launched from No.3 slip at J W & A Uphams shipyard in Brixham. The year was 1895 and she cost £667 7s 6d. We believe the seven shillings and six pence was for the work boat that went on board although that may just be a tale! She was one of six sailing trawlers to be launched form Upham’s yard that year. She was purchased by owner and skipper Silas John Pine who was 28 years old and a sixth generation Brixham fisherman. Local church and chapel registers list five previous generations of Silas Pine who were all fishermen dating back as far as 1720. He also had a son named Silas john Pine continuing the family tradition.

124 years ago
A sailing trawler being launched at Upham’s shipyard in Brixham

Pilgrim was configured as a gaff rigged ketch and was built of English oak and elm with decks planked in oak and pine and the masts cut from Douglas fir. Her restoration which took place between 2009 and 2013 has preserved her original presentation above decks but with a contemporary fit our below.  That enables her to be sailed in the traditional manner while providing crew and guests with safe modern facilities.

Sailing Trawler Crew
The crew on a Victorian sailing trawler

Over her long life Pilgrim has been a fishing boat, a cargo boat, a sail training vessel and today she provides a platform for witnessing and understanding Brixham’s fishing heritage. The Victorian sailing trawlers, typified by Pilgrim, were the forerunners of today’s modern beam trawlers. The ingenuity and craftsmanship of the shipwrights in Victorian times created an industry that, despite its up and downs, is still thriving in Brixham today.

Pilgrim BM45
Pilgrim in the Parade of Sail at Dartmouth Regatta 2018

124 years on, Pilgrim is a proud member of the UK National Historic Fleet reflecting her status as a pre-eminent example of her period and type and being of both regional and national significance. Today she is charity owned and opearted by the Pilgrim Heritage Sailing Foundation. https://www.pilgrimofbrixham.co.uk

The sources of the historic images are not known.

Pilgrim has arrived in Falmouth in Cornwall at the end of a very busy week. On the Sunday we participated in the Brixham Heritage Regatta. It’s always a sight to behold with all the heritage boats sailing in Torbay. This year the weather was kind to spectators but also very variable which meant everybody had to be ready for anything. The Pilgrim crew limbered up in the morning, had a quick chill down and then set off for the Parade of Sail and then pursued the other Class 1 boats around the bay. We were delighted to win the Brixham Heritage Regatta Cup and were happy to congratulate Vigilance on winning the King George V Cup.

Pilgrim's Regatta crew limbering upPilgrim's Regatta crew chilling downPilgrim's Regatta winning crew 2019 Pilgrim's Regatta winning crew at rest

The following day, Bank Holiday Monday, we had an Open Day and welcomed some two hundred visitors on Board who came to hear about Pilgrim and her role in the Brixham fishing industry in the late Victorian period. Pilgrim is 124 yerars old and is the oldest surviving trawler that was built and rigged in the port of Brixham.

Pilgrim Open Day

Then it was back to the serious business of sailing. Pilgrim set off for Cornwall on the Tuesday and had a delightful cruise along the south coasts of Devon and Cornwall. We moored overnight in Dartmouth, Salcombe, Plymouth, Fowey and St Mawes soaking up some welcome early summer sun. No other cruise boat would deliver that kind of adventure – dinghy rides and all!

One of our guests commented afterwards, “I was delighted to be part of it…my first time on Pilgrim: a delightful crew, perfect choice of overnight stops and I learnt a great deal more in a few short days. Have a great summer you Pilgrims!” That’s what we like to hear! 

So we ended the week in Falmouth needing to mend a sail and ready to provision for our Cornish exploits for this year. We won’t mention scones!

Yes, that’s right – Eden Park Primary pupils meet a Victorian Pilgrim! Pilgrim of Brixham that is, the heritage sailing trawler, launched in 1895 and still going strong 124 years later. The volunteer team on Pilgrim were delighted to welcome the year 3 & 4 children from Eden Park Primary Academy to tell them all about the port, the boat and its fishing history.

Over two days the pupils had the opportunity to sketch Pilgrim from the shore and then board her and learn all about sailing, trawling and the different species of fish that were caught. They had to identify the fish and put them in the right box just as the ‘boy’ would have done below decks in Victorian times. Pilgrim was typically crewed by three men and a boy. The boy would only have been a year or two older than the children themselves.

Eden Park Primary Academy
‘Squeeze up in the stern’ Eden Park Primary Academy on Pilgrim of Brixham

The visit was part of the schools programme delivered by the Pilgrim Heritage Sailing Foundation which is the charity which owns and operates Pilgrim. Other schools are welcome to contact the Foundation and arrange their own free-of-charge visit. Each child takes home an historical guide to Pilgrim and the Brixham fishing community.

We’ve had three great new reviews since the start of the 2019 season. We routinely strive to exceed our guest expectations but seeing this post on our Facebook page provided wholesome praise for our professional and volunteer crew and all those other volunteers who work behind the scenes to keep our 124 year old beauty at sea!

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Tanya, Bruce and Guests having a brew! Pic by mate Julie Harris

“I had a fantastic few days sailing on the Pilgrim, the experience was well past my expectations and this was the result of the crew. The skipper, Richard clearly very experienced and dedicated to everyone’s safety and enjoyment. The first mate, Julie who works tirelessly to ensure everyone is safe, clearly very experienced and knowledgeable in sailing the Pilgrim. She’s also very focused and dedicated because not only is Julie the first mate she is the cook, where here she dedicates herself too ensure everyone is well fed with some fantastic food.. a real hard worker and a credit to Pilgrim. Crewmen, Bruce.. smashing guy who also is dedicated in ensuring everyone on board is safe and having fun. Crewmen, Bob.. smashing guy the same dedication ensuring the safety of everyone, however needs much more practice in playing the penny whistle.. Crewmen, Tanya.. who herself is recent to Pilgrim clearly dedicated to her role ensuring we on board were safe and enjoying the experience.. A fantastic crew who all work very hard in making this an unforgettable experience.

Gary Clements”

Thanks Gary – we’re glad you had a great trip and thanks also for taking the trouble to post for us.

We were also thrilled to receive this review on Trip Advisor

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Pilgrim guests relaxing in port at the end of the day. Thanks Bruce for the pic!

We’re at the start of the heritage sailing season 2019. It’s always exciting when we get to put the tools, paint and grease away and go sailing. April has arrived and we’ll be sailing now right through until October. We’ve a hectic season ahead with locals cruises around the Devon Coast, trips to Cormwall and out to the stunning Isles of Scilly. Then there’s a cruise across to Brittany and the Paimpol Martime festival.

Pilgrim BM45 shakedown crew
Pilgrim’s skipper and shakedown crew ready to set sail for the first outing of the season

Over the last two days we’ve been doing ‘shakedown sails’ to make sure everything is working right and Pilgrim is in good shape for cruising. For the next week or so we’ll be doing essential crew training so keep an eye out for us in Torbay or out in Lyme Bay. The final job is then to make-up all our berths and load provisions ready for our first cruise with guests on board just before Easter.

Pilgrim BM45 below decks
Pilgrim’s main saloon ready for guests to come aboard

It’s a frantic time of year at the Pilgrim Foundation and it’s time for bottom scrubbing!. The last two weeks of March and the first two weeks of April are all about getting Pilgrim ready to welcome guests on board. We start our sailing season at Easter time and then it’s full-on until October. We’ve just spent a few days ‘on the beach’ (actually in the mud!) in Brixham Harbour. We pressure wash the hull, attend to any essential repairs, fit new anodes to minimise corrosion and then antifoul the whole hull to help keep her clean through the season. It’s dirty, messy work but the weather was kind and there were no nasty surprises.

Pilgrim BM45 prop maintenance
Shipwright John servicing the starboard propeller

 

Pressure washing Pilgrim BM45
Volunteer Roy finishing of the pressure washing down at the keel. As you can imagine that is a recipe for back ache!

 

Pilgrim steel splicing
Pilgrim volunteers learning to splice steel rigging wire

A group of Pilgrim volunteers have been learning how to splice wire. Passing on specialist skills is vital to keeping Pilgrim is good order for the future. Today we were privileged to have retired local rigger Jacky Warren showing three of our volunteers how to eye-splice steel wire. It’s not for the feint-hearted, but hopefully now Neil, John and Mark will be ready to tackle it for themselves when required.

 

Pilgrim steel splicing
Pilgrim volunteers Neil, John and Mark with Jacky at the half way stage.

Our volunteer team are now entering the final hectic few weeks of our winter refit activity. They are getting Pilgrim ready for cruising at Easter. There is still a lot to do but this training will just broaden the expertise we have in the team. We never cease to be amazed how many different skills our volunteers bring onboard and that is crucial to our ability to keep Pilgrim sailing.

 

Ecclesiastical volunteer Visit
Pilgrim volunteers on deck with visitors Ellie & Emma

We don’t usually have visitors on board while volunteers undertake our winter refit work in Dartmouth. Typically, we’re in boiler suits and often doing all sorts of dirty jobs! However, today we were delighted to welcome Ellie and Emma from Ecclesiastical Insurance. They travelled down from Gloucester as part of a project they are working on with the Maritime Heritage Trust. They are investigating the roles played by volunteers on heritage vessels like Pilgrim and wanted to find out how we recruit new volunteers and organise our activities. A key part of their project is to explore how we can all better engage with young people to broaden our volunteer base and to secure the commitment of future generations to look after these wonderful and important heritage vessels.
   

Pilgrim is charity owned and operated and we rely on volunteers to sail the vessel and support our professional Skipper and Mate. We are now recruiting volunteer sailing crew for the 2019 season.

Pilgrim crew
Crew raising sails on Pilgrim of Brixham BM45

Ideally our volunteers have some sailing experience but it is not essential. We provide training for suitable candidates. Candidates for volunteer crew need to be able to satisfy the following criteria:

  1. Be physically fit
  2. Be willing to attend training sessions and assessment sailings on weekdays and weekends in March and April
  3. Be able to commit to scheduling at least two long weekends and two further separate weeks of crewing between April and October
  4. Be willing to take on other crewing activities including vessel maintenance tasks, helping to serve meals, washing up, housekeeping and cleaning duties
  5. Be 18 years of age or over. No upper limit for those who are really fit and active. Many of our crew volunteers are energetic retirees with a sense of adventure!

Pilgrim crew for the King George V Perpetual Cup 2018

In return we provide:

  1. Sailing tuition and experience
  2. All meals during voyages
  3. Accommodation in our communal crew cabin
  4. An opportunity to sail the stunning coats of Devon and Cornwall and the chance to go to the Channel islands, Brittany and out to the Isles of Scilly..
  5. Good company and lots of fresh air
  6. The satisfaction that you are helping to keep a 124 year old heritage sailing trawler in commission for the benefit of the community today and for generations to come

Scilly Isles Sailing Holiday
Pilgrim crew enjoying their Scilly trip!

Pilgrim is the oldest surviving sailing trawler that was built and rigged in Brixham and is a member of the National Historic Fleet.

Applicants need to complete our online registration form here:

http://bit.ly/PilgrimCrewApplication

If you would prefer an informal discussion first please mailto:mailbox@pilgrimofbrixham.org .uk and provide contact details.

The closing date for applications is 28th February 2019.

It’s only the privileged few who get to see Pilgrim down below. That’s usually reserved for volunteers, guests and for visitors on our periodic Open Days. We have twelve comfy guest berths spread over two cabins in our communal accommodation area together with a fully equipped galley and two heads with showers. That’s ‘toilets’ for the uninitiated!

PilgrimBM45 below decks
Pilgrim’s main saloon

PilgrimBM45 below decks entertaining
Pilgrim – enjoying dinner on board

Something people rarely see is our crew cabin. This is tucked away behind the engine room and provides accommodation for the Skipper and other crew members. It’s exactly where the crew accommodation was when she was built back in 1895. In those days though they slept on straw and had a single coal stove on which to brew and cook! It’s certainly cosy, but serves it’s purpose.

PilgrimBM45 Crew Cabin
Pilgrim’s crews quarters

Finally, we believe everyone should sail on full stomach so our bijou galley is equiped to serve meals for 15 passengers and crew and more for shore events. It’s extensively fitted with a steam oven, microvave oven, multiple electric and diesel hobs together with fridges and we even have a dishwasher. Hidden away below the saloon dining table is also a further fridge and a freezer so we have plenty of storage for extended cruising. So, as you can see, there’s no slumming it on Pilgrim.

PilgrimBm45 galley
Pilgrim’s Galley

Our Guests come back and cruise again not just because of the wonderful sailing but also because of the good food, homely atmosphere and convivial company they find on Pilgrim. The best way to experience life on-board is to come sailing with us – you can start with a Devon Traditional Sailing Day or why not try our Devon B&B Sailing Weekend