Tag: brixham

We are delighted to announce the appointment of the Pilgrim Foundation President and Vice President at the Annual General Meeting. The meeting took place at the Brixham Labboratory at Freshwater Quay in Brixham on Friday 19th July 2019.

After nearly 20 years of ceaseless commitment to the restoration, preservation and operations of Pilgrim, Rod Coveney has stood down as Director, Trustee and Managing Director and has now been appointed Honorary President. Foundation Chair David Range made the annoucement and presentation with Sailing Director and Trustee, Lynda Davison.

Rod has had a pivotal role over many years leading the fundraising and organisation required to see the 1895 heritage sailing trawler Pilgrim of Brixham restored, maintained and sailing each summer out of her home port in the traditional manner.

Pilgrim President Rod Coveney
Presentation to Rod Coveney on his appointment as President

At the same time, former Director and Trustee, Neil Davidson was appointed to the role of Vice President. He joins the other Vice Presidents – Mike Chater, Johan Skibdahl and John Wilson. Over many years, Neil has been a stalwart of the Pilgrim team acting as volunteer crew and playing a vital role in the productuion of new masts and bowsprits. Whenever there is a job to be done or an Open Day to host, Neil is there sharing his expertise and his love of Pilgrim with everyone around him.

Pilgrim Foundation appoints Vice President - Neil Davidson
Presentation to Neil Davidson on his appointment as Vice President.

Both Rod and Neil will continue to play an active role in the efforts to preserve and maintain Pilgrim BM45. She is a living testament to the generations of Brixham fisherfolk who earned their precarious living based on fishing with these incredible sailing boats.

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!

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!

Pilgrim Bm45
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 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.

Sailing trawlers, like Pilgrim typically carried a crew of four or five. There was a skipper, a mate, an apprentice and a boy or ‘fisher lad’. Sometimes there was a third hand as well. In the mid-Victorian period the boy could be as young as ten but towards the end of the nineteenth century he was more likely to be twelve or thirteen. Going to sea at that age meant “Growing Up Fast!”

Pilgrim’s skipper, Silas Pine, although brought up in Brixham, is reported as having gone to sea on the East Coast at the age of nine! Boys often came from workhouses up country or from the local orphanage, Grenville House. Others came from Brixham fishing families, although it was more common for them to start as apprentices at about the age of fourteen as had been the case with Silas Pine’s younger brother Bertie.

The boy had to cook for the whole crew and keep the cabin and kettle and utensils clean. He was expected to keep hot tea on the stove in winter and water in the summer months. That was only the start of it though….boys had to keep the tools, fenders and other boat gear tidied away. They had to help make and mend nets and were responsible for taking the helm when the trawl was being shot. Later, as the warp was winched in, the boy had to be below decks to coil, or flake, the warp as it came in. It was six or seven inches in diameter and up to nine hundred feet long. In rough weather it could take two or three hours to haul it in and all that time the boy had to coil the wet, heavy warp below decks in a pitching boat often on a rough sea. Together with the deck hand or apprentice the boy would also see to the trimming and placement of lamps and also deal with flares and the foghorn. Finally, the boy was responsible for clearing the deck of all fish scales and the fish ‘brash’ brought up in the trawl.

Boys and apprentices were not paid as such and just got their keep. Some were given ‘stocker money’ where they were allowed to keep the proceeds of the sale of the female crabs, oysters and squids caught in the trawl up to a maximum of two shillings and sixpence. The boy was often limited to one shilling and sixpence.

In this day and age, it’s difficult to conceive of boys starting at such a young age. We recently had a group of school children aged ten and eleven on board and they were stunned to imagine they might have been going to sea on Pilgrim as cook!

References:

Grenville House, Brixham built in 1863 and founded by the ‘British Seaman’s Boys’ Home’ charity as an orphanage

Sailing Trawlers  –  Edgar J March M.S. N.R. 1953

BM45 Pilgrim  –  Bridget Cusack 2013