Tag: BM45

This week Trinity House announced some changes to the ‘character’ of the light from the Berry Head Lighthouse. This announcement comes via ‘Notices to Mariners’ which our skipper Richard Smith has to stay aware of. They are issued by the navigation authorities and harbourmasters.

Berry Head Lighthouse 1906
Photo courtesy https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Nilfanion

Pilgrim and her skipper Silas Pine had been fishing out of Brixham for eleven years when the lighthouse was constructed on Berry Head in 1906. It would have been a welcome navigational aid marking the southerly entrance to Torbay. It has an unusual pedigree being the highest and the lowest lighthouse in England. The lighthouse is only 16 feet tall, yet its light is 190 feet above sea level. It is located in the South Devon ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’ (AONB) in a commanding position on the headland. It is a very welcome sight for Brixham trawlermen to this day.

At night it can be seen over 11 miles away and it flashes a white light twice every 15 seconds. The character of the light is now a one second flash followed by a one second eclipse, then a one second flash and a 12 second eclipse.

PilgrimBM45
Pilgrim with Berry Head Lighthouse just visible top left

Many people will not be aware that Berry Head also hosts an aeronautical navigation aid which is part of a vital north south navigational air corridor managed by NATS – the UK’s National Air Traffic Services. So, Berry Head is not only a fabulous spot for bird watchers but also a special place for boat and aircraft spotters.

 

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’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.