Adventures on a Pilot Cutter

We are in Falmouth again for the Oyster Festival. 

Today, we were lucky enough to be able to join Jo and Brendan on Agnes, a 48 foot pilot cutter operated by Working Sail  https://workingsail.co.uk/

Jo and her husband, Luke, not only operate Agnes, and new sister vessel Pellew, but they built them too, in their shipyard in Penryn, using traditional methods and designs.

It was forecast Force 6 and rain but as we set out from Falmouth Haven it was bright and not quite that windy. With a reef in the main and just one headsail we set out across Falmouth Bay to find that the rest of the forecast wind was hiding behind Pendennis Head. 

We had a brisk sail across the bay, with water foaming in the scuppers at times, just like in the movies. 

The sun was shining and Carol and I were really enjoying the feel of a traditionally built boat. Agnes is much more solid and directionally stable than modern yachts. The wind was strong in the gusts and even with reduced sail we had to luff to take some power out of the sails in the stronger blows. But she handles so beautifully and seemed to love whizzing across the waves, in the groove close to the wind, as much as we did.

As we approached the Manacles, the westerly wind was stronger still. Agnes sails beautifully off the wind but with the sails we were carrying we could only point 45 degrees, or so, upwind. This would have made getting into the Helford a bit of a slog, so we abandoned the idea of lunch there and headed back towards Carrick Roads.

On a rising tide, we sailed across the mud banks, through a small fleet of the Working Boats, dredging for oysters under sail, and some smaller hand-powered oyster punts, and anchored off Turnaware Point for lunch (a delicious and hearty fresh fish soup). When it was time to head home Brendan and I raised the Admiralty Pattern anchor with a traditional drum winch, inserting pegs, one at a time, to turn it. A bit like they did in the good ole days. All that was missing was sea shanty or two.

We headed back to Falmouth in torrential rain under jib and staysail and when we got there the sun came out to greet us.

It was a lovely day and we would like to take one of Jo’s cruises to the Scillies next summer. Sailing is great fun, but it is even nicer when you don’t have to do all the work yourself. It is better still, in a beautifully built boat like Agnes.

Sailing along in Agnes
Mark enjoys his day aboard classic Pilot Cutter, Agnes

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