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.