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Agnes - Pilot Cutter

Agnes – Pilot Cutter

At 46ft on deck Agnes is the largest wooden pilot cutter Luke Powell has built so far, and is the much-admired flagship of his boat building company Working Sail. After building 8 pilot cutters Luke and his wife and business partner Joanna are keen to spend more time on the water enjoying the fruits of their labours, and introducing guest crews to their favourite sailing grounds on Agnes. Sail with Luke Powell - Builder & Designer of 8 Pilot Cutters

"Hard to say what was best. The boat was beautiful and comfortable. The Cornish coast was stunning. The food was plentiful and excellent. Luke and Joanna could not have been more friendly, helpful or knowledgeable - or hard working. A very different style of sailing to that which I have been used to - it adds a new dimension." David 

Luke Powell's influence on the renaissance of wooden boatbuilding in this country cannot be under estimated and it would be hard to find a more passionate spokesperson for working wooden boats and traditional boat building.

In 1997 Classic Sailing founders Adam and Debbie Purser came to Exeter waterfront to look at his first pilot cutter replica 'Eve of St Mawes' as our first charter vessel. We fell in love with the boat and are proud to count Luke as a friend through 'thick and thin' over the last 16 years. We are delighted Joanna and Luke will be sharing Agnes with Classic Sailing customers and sailing her with their usual flair and sense of adventure.

Testimonials in Working Sail - The Book

Luke has recently written a book about his unconventional life called 'Working Sail' which recounts the struggles as well as the triumphs of building Eve, Lizzie May, Agnes, Hesper, Ezra, Talullah, Amelie Rose and Freja.

"Luke Powell is so modest about his achievements that he will be slightly amazed when described as a 'national treasure'. Beginning in the early 1990's he has almost singlehandedly pioneered a revival in the building of traditional pilot cutters in Britain"

Forward written by Nigel Irons & Tom Cunliffe

You can buy a copy of the book in our SHOP, or better still go sailing with Luke and Jo.

Building wooden boats is hard physical work, but behind the scenes there is an academic side to the process too. Luke has extensive researched pilot cutters and British maritime history in his quest to design great wooden working boats for the 21st century.  It is great to see Luke now being recognised for both his contribution to wooden boat building and for his ability to tell great stories through book writing.

In 2013 Luke won the following awards:

Classic Boat Magazine Editors Choice for his latest pilot cutter Freja,
Runner Up Prize for Best Non Fiction Book at the Mountbatten Maritme Media Awards 2013
Holyer An Gof Publishing Awards 2013 Winner of the Best Non Fiction Book
Classic Sailing 'Oscar' 2013 - a fun in house award for small boat - roughest seas charter in 2013


Gourmet Cooking & Story Telling

Both Joanna and Luke have grown up around boats so they have a very relaxed style to being out of the water.  Joanna has a great love of cooking but is also an experienced traditional boat sailor and co run a historic Lowerstoft Trawler as a charter boat for many years.  The ambience of sharing a freshly cooked meal with locally sourced ingredients on board Agnes is an important part of the experience and style that is the Powell family trademark. Luke has been interviewed and filmed many times and is a natural story teller and conversationalist.

 "Luke and Jo were fabulous hosts and excellent skippers." Brendan, on Agnes Easter 2013

Sailing Style - 'very hands on'

Agnes carries a lot of sail with no winches. Even the anchor windlass is an authentic barrel windlass with spokes to turn.  Luke is fairly purist and likes to travel under sail as much as possible, so if you are looking for a real hands on sailing holiday on a very powerful cutter then Agnes is one to try.  Her wide decks and high bulwarks (wooden walls around the deck) give a sense of security so she is equally a great choice for those new to sailing.

The Original Agnes - 1841 Scillonian Pilot Cutter

After extensive research, the modern day Agnes was built from new to the lines of Agnes of 1841, the top pilot cutter from the Isles of Scilly. The original Agnes had a long working life as the last pilot cutter to work out of the Isles of Scilly under Captain Jenkins.  His Granson's Alf and Barry launched Agnes in May 2003. She has proven to be extremely fast and light on the helm for her 26 tons.

She was originally built for an American who planned to use her for sail training and she made an Atlantic Crossing just after her first sea trials. Luke bought Agnes back from her owner when he had to change his plans and she sailed back via the Azores to become his home for a while.  She has featured at many festivals and taken many prospective boat buyers out for a demonstration sails, as well as summer expeditions to Ireland, Scotland and France.

Scilly Island Hopping & Wildlife Adventures

Her historic links with Scilly Pilot cutter history means Agnes is well loved in the islands. She also often visits on the way to Ireland or Pembrokeshire.

Seals play in the swirling kelp forests, flowers flourish in walled fields and the locals go about their daily business by boat. This is a paradise governed by the wind, waves and tide. Exploring the islands on any classic boat offers an intensive lesson in practical seamanship, navigation for adventurous beginners and experienced sailors alike. The passage from Falmouth, around the Lizard, past the lonely sentinel of Wolf Rock and way out west beyond Lands End, can be challenging or totally benign. The Atlantic Ocean frequently rewards you with sightings of dolphins, pilot whales, sunfish and basking sharks, revealing your destination in tantalising stages as each island becomes distinctive on the horizon.

Once nestled in an anchorage, our landing stage is usually a beach so bare feet and sandals are the order of the day. The pace of life is so relaxed it can take a few days to adjust to this small scale world. At first our crews stride out to circumnavigate an island, but after a few hours you will be happy beachcombing, sketching or snoozing amongst the sea pinks. With over a dozen anchorages in the archipelago to choose from and the ever changing Atlantic Ocean all around, no Scillies trip is ever the same.

"A special sailing experience. Delighted to have the opportunity to sail with Luke and hear all about his boat building/ sailing history. Added bonus of sailing to the Scillies and if the weather had been ok we would have fitted in a trip to Ireland as well." Delia, on Agnes 

"I enjoyed our trip to the Scillies so much. We had great weather, an exciting fast sail to St Agnes. The Cove was just beautiful." - Sarah


Short Cornish Breaks -So where do we go in two or three days?

Falmouth is one of the biggest natural harbours in the world with easy deep water access to the open sea. We might go south west past the Manacles to small fishing villages like Cadgwith or Coverack, or further afield around the Lizard to Penzance, Newlyn and St Michaels Mount. The Helford estuary is great for an evening row to a pub and a return in the dark with stars above and phosphorescence in the water below.

Eastwards, Agnes can blast between famous headlands like The Dodman and Gribben, anchor off National Trust beaches or make a dramatic entrance into Fowey. In wilder weather there are plenty more sheltered options within the deep water inlets of the Fal.

Day Sails 

Agnes will also be running a few day sails so if you have always admired Luke's boats, why not come and sail with him. Classic Sailing sells gift vouchers which can be used on all the vessels we promote, or you can book a friend or relative on a specific day sail or short break.


Brittany - for the Love of Exploring

Luke and Joanna have taken pilot cutters to many French festivals over the years, but now it is time to forget festival itineraries and go where the winds and tides flow and visit all those out the way treasures and special anchorages in northern Brittany. The fjord like bay of Lampaul on Ushant or the gannet colonies of the Sept Isles and the delightful hidden port of Ploumanach are just a few options. Now there is a decent marina as a joining location in Roscoff (ferry port) Agnes will join Eve of St Mawes for a 'summer holiday' in France.









Boat Specification

Agnes Dimensions:
Length on deck 46’
Length with bowsprit 65 ?’
Beam 13' 3"

Draught 8’ 6”
Tonnage 26
Rig Gaff Cutter

Built and Designed by Luke Powell, Working Sail.
Opepe, oak frames, larch planking, Douglas Fir Mast and bowsprit.

Below Decks:
7 guest berths
Headroom good
Large oak dining table
Hot and cold running water
Shower and WC
Safety: Agnes will be coded for MCA Code of Practice Category 2, up to 60 miles from a safe haven.



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