Pilgrim Brixham Sailing Trawler
Brixham Sailing Trawler Pilgrim
Brixham Sailing Trawler Pilgrim, with her distinctive red sails and old fishing number BM45, is the newest addition to a small fleet of historic vessels sailing out of Brixham. This 74ft wooden sailing ship was once part of a fleet of over 2000 deep sea sailing trawlers that revolutionised the way fish were caught in Europe. Today only a handful of wooden sailing trawlers survive, and Classic Sailing are proud to work with four of them in their new role as adventure charter vessels. These seaworthy and powerful sailing vessels take crossing the Channel in their stride, make comfortable expedition ships for exploring near and far, and offer stable platforms for those new to sailing.
What does Pilgrim do Best
Built in Brixham in 1895, Pilgrim has benefited from substantial funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and local donors to be able to carry out a major rebuild to launch her charter career. Most of her hull and deck have been built as new in nearby Dartmouth. She is a close to a new wooden Brixham trawler you can get without losing her original character or sense of history. Below decks the living accommodation is communal, but with comfort and stylish catering in mind. Pilgrim aims to give all ages an authentic sailing experience and is unashamedly aimed at an adult holiday market, rather than youth sail training. As Brixham is a popular holiday destination, she also regularly puts her crews catering skills and ample deck space to good use and hosts group parties and day sails.
Pilgrim has a good mix of shorter 2-3 day voyages which make affordable presents for friends or relatives that love sailing or want to give it a go. Classic Sailing can help arrange surprise birthday experiences or you can buy gift vouchers of any value that can be used on Pilgrim or any of the Classic Sailing Fleet (lasts 3 years).
She also likes to reconnect with her deep sea fishing tradition by going further afield to French festivals, Isles of Scilly , or simply cruise the South Devon and Cornish coast looking magnificent.
Her full time skipper Brendan has been a modern day trawler man so he can tell you all about how these mighty vessels would stream a beam trawl net and fish under sail alone.
Where Does She Sail?
Pilgrim’s home port of Brixham is a bustling working fishing port so there are plenty of themed voyages taking advantage of the fresh fish and seafood landed here. If you are looking for a short break with a some interesting sailing skills to learn, and a chance to celebrate Devon’s worldwide reputation for local produce from beer to seafood, then Pilgrim might just be the all inclusive weekend away you are looking for.
If you prefer seeing how a Brixham Trawler behaves out in the waves of the Western Approaches, or enjoy steering an 90 tonne sailing ship with a huge tiller in the moonlight, then maybe an offshore adventure to the Isles of Scilly or Brittany is more your thing. If you want a mix of being ‘out there’ and sheltered nights tucked up behind headlands or tranquil river estuaries, then Pilgrim has several coastal voyages, hopping along the Devon and Cornwall coast between Brixham and Falmouth.
Berry Head, Start Point, Prawle Point, the Mew Stone, Rame Head, the Dodman, St Anthony and the Lizard are famous headlands in Pilgrims stomping ground...and if you reel them off in a postcard or journal it starts to sound like a sea shanty. The ports are equally representitive of Britain's seafaring history with Dartmouth, Salcombe, Plymouth, Fowey and Falmouth conveniently about a short day sail apart along the South Coast of Devon and Cornwall, with plenty of anchorages in between.
What is Pilgrim Like to Sail?
You will notice straight away that we like to involve you in making decisions about passage plans and destinations – after all it is your holiday! The old adage about the enjoying the journey not just the destination is applied to sailing aboard Pilgrim so our aim is not to rush our guests into reaching a destinationbut to enjoy the sailing the scenery and the overall experience of classic sailing. The regular skipper Brendan loves to sail as much as possible and if the wind is from the West you have plenty of flat seas in Torbay to set upto 7 sails....or less depending on the wind strength. Our two engines are normally only used for exit and entry into port.
Pilgrim represents a great example of a “working boat” with the deck having been authentically restored to the traditional gaff rigged, sailing trawler layout. You will find various places to sit, from the oak “transom” at the stern of the boat behind the mizzen mast and on deck lockers around the main hatchway which have a grandstand view of the passing scenery or seascapes.
As with most working boats in the Classic Sailing fleet, Pilgrim has high bulwarks (wooden sides) around the deck so even in rough weather novices can stride confidently down the deck and feel reassuringly secure. Pilgrim will heel over in strong winds, but this is often when she is most steady with wind in her sails and a very deep long keel to keep her tracking straight. You just have to learn to walk on the slant. People often think a sailing trawler must be slow, but these powerful craft were designed to have enough canvas to tow a heavy beam trawl, so without that drag they can be awesome. Pilgrim has sailed upto 10 knots which creates a hell of a bow wave....and quite a challenge on the tiller.
In Victorian times sailing trawlers like Pilgrim, Leader or Provident would have been steered with a huge tiller. If you want that authenic experience of tiller steering a ship that is 94ft long from bowsprit to mizzen boom end then Pilgrim is the only one of the three that has not converted to wheel steering.
Full ship specification for those who like to know all the technical bits and vital statistics
Below Decks - New and Old Timbers & Antique Fittings
Pilgrim has berths for 12 but generally only takes 10 guests on longer voyages. There is a large saloon with 10 berths and a forward cabin with 4 berths. There is ample headroom and two washrooms with shower and toilet. As the ship was virtually rebuilt her decor is a lovely mix of old timbers used for feature timber and antique ships fittings salvaged from ships built in a similar era.
Winner of Classic Boat Restoration of the Year
Pilgrim was the winner of the Classic Boat Restoration of the Year for historic vessels over 40ft in 2014. If you want to see some idea of the scale of the task to bring such a large timber vessel back into full working sailing condition....and pass all the stringent UK Maritime Coastguard Agency inspections for commercial charter vessels, the take a look at our photos and video of the restoration. When you sail on her, give a little thought to all those who helped restore her to her sailing glory.
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