Category: BM45 Blog

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:

If you would prefer an informal discussion first please .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





A Pilgrim photograph taken by a guest wins a  ‘highly commended’ accolade. All of us in the Pilgrim Team are delighted to be able to congratulate Ian Kippax for his entry in the National Historic Ships Photography Competition 2018.

Ian’s picture was taken on-board Pilgrim and called ‘The Lure of the Sea”. It was ‘Highly Commended’ in the ‘Faces of the Sea’ category. You can see all the winning entries here.

Pilgrim photo
‘The Lure of the Sea’ by Ian Kippax

Ian has undertaken two passages on Pilgrim as a guest and always thrills us with his incredible photographs and this is no exception. The picture shows relief skipper Dave Carnson with volunteer crew member and former Honorary Pilgrim Treasurer Brian Sexon.

If anyone else has photographs from their time on Pilgrim please send them to us. We have a photo upload site for guests and you can contact us by email here for further details.

Members of the Pilgrim Events Team have been meeting at the Berry Head Hotel in Brixham. Now our Open days and school visits for 2018 are complete the team has been ‘looking back to the future’ to plan our public and educational activities for next year.

Looking back to the future
The Pilgrim Events Team meeting to plan 2019 activities

A key part of that is continuing our investigations into Pilgrim’s past and the life and times of fisher folk in Brixham during the Victorian Period.

Over recent weeks one of our team, Marion O’Brien has been looking deeper into the background of our original skipper Silas Pine and his family and she brought the team up to date on what she had discovered. Marion has been building on the work of the late Bridget Cusack who was Pilgrim’s archivist. Fishing was definitely in the family as our skipper was at least a fifth generation Brixham fisherman when he had Pilgrim built in 1895. We still haven’t managed to locate a photograph of Silas but that is still very much work-in-progress as we feel we have to put a face to the name.

Neil Davidson has been investigating the techniques used in those days to shoot and recover the trawl and the sequence of events that happened on-board every time they landed a catch. Understanding current bean trawling techniques is useful but the methods used in Victorian times were different because of the need to manually handle all the heavy gear. The crew were reliant on their own skill, ingenuity and muscle helped only by rigging blocks and hand operated winches. A project is now in hand to make a winch to fit onto Pilgrim where it would have originally been located. This will hopefully enable us to re-create some of those activities to improve our understanding of how it was done.

This work adds to our ability to tell the story of Pilgrim in a way that enables our visitors and sailing guests to see into the culture and heritage of our local fishing community. It’s a key part of our Foundation’s educational endeavours.

Open Day Dates for 2019 are now published here

One of the volunteers who help run the heritage sailing trawler Pilgrim of Brixham BM45 has had a lucky win on the Torbay lottery.

Pilgrim Volunteer has big Torbay lottery win
Pilgrim Volunteer Keith Ward on-board Pilgrim of Brixham

Keith Ward, who lives in Brixham and volunteers with Pilgrim, won £2000 in last week’s draw. The boat is 123 years old and is operated by the Pilgrim Heritage Sailing Foundation which is a local charity. Like other good causes, it benefits from tickets purchased for the Torbay Lottery and will now also receive a further donation Keith and his wife Jasmine have offered to make to the Foundation from their winnings. Keith commented: “We actively encourage our members, volunteers and local supporters to join in the lottery but never expected this kind of win.”

Pilgrim is the oldest surviving sailing trawler that was built and rigged in the historic port of Brixham. Thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund she underwent a major restoration in 2009-2013 and now sails the coasts of Devon and Cornwall and across to the Channel Islands, Brittany and the Isles of Scilly each Summer. Foundation Managing Director Rod Coveney commented, “Like many of our volunteers, Keith and Jasmine commit a great deal of time and energy to keep Pilgrim sailing so it’s nice to see them benefit in this way. The Torbay Lottery is a way for local people to support their favourite charity and we are most grateful for the proceeds that come to us.”

For further information about the Torbay lottery, visit:

Torbay Lottery

After a stunning summer and a hectic sailing season our skipper and volunteers have been derigging Pilgrim for winter maintenance over the last couple of days. We’ve been really lucky with the weather.

De-rig involves taking down the working rigging and all the blocks so that everything can be checked, maintained and replaced as needed. We will transfer the rigging to our workshop so our volunteers can get on with the maintenance work whatever the weather.

Pilgrim’s Skipper Brendan up the mizzen mast for de-rig

The wooden spars will be lowered into the water and floated across the harbour in Brixham to the Old Fish Quay. That’s where we do any necessary maintenance and treatment under cover. During the colder winter months we very much appreciate the adjacent coffee shop as well!

Today, we were also delighted to welcome National Historic Ships Director Hannah Cunliffe and their Shipshape Network Coordinator Victoria Wallworth on board. They were visiting the members of the National Historic Fleet in Brixham. Their visit gave us the opportunity to bring them up to speed on Pilgrim’s activities and the issues we are tackling. It was good for us to hear more about the national programmes being delivered for heritage vessels around the UK.

Guests from National Historic Ships on board Pilgrim with some of our volunteers

Next week Pilgrim goes ‘on the beach’ to dry out against the harbour wall in Brixham for a ‘below the waterline inspection’ so we can see what maintenance work needs to be scheduled over the winter months.