On the banks of the Truro River at the Rhoda Mary Heritage boatyard located at Newham, a reproduction sailing pilot cutter is being built by a team of dedicated boat builders in a classic “tree to sea” project.

The Pellew is an accurate reproduction of the 68ft (21 metre) long Falmouth Pilot Cutter Vincent built in St Mawes in 1852 for the Vincent family. She worked successfully for 70 years until being retired in 1922, ending her days as a houseboat at Freshwater on the Percuil River.

Henry Vincent, of St Mawes, was the first pilot licensed by Trinity House in 1809 when Trinity House of Deptford Strond became the licensing authority, with sub-commissioners of pilotage being appointed to administer pilotage locally.

Well-known local master boat builder Luke Powell has faithfully recreated this vessel drawing plans using an original builder’s model found in St Mawes and given to the late Ralph Bird, the Devoran pilot gig builder.

The Pellew is being built for The Falmouth Pilot Cutter CIC that was set up with Brian Pain, owner of the Thames barge Lady of the Lea, with the aim of resurrecting Cornish maritime heritage by training a new generation of young people in the art of wooden boat building. Over the three-year build, the project will develop as a vocational training platform for maritime skills. Once launched the vessel will take young trainees out sailing to learn the traditional skills associated with such vessels.

Pellew will be used by the Falmouth Pilot Cutter CIC for sail training and chartering. Her launch is scheduled for the spring of 2019, with training and chartering commencing in the spring of 2020.

Before Christmas the hull planking was finished. Once the hull is faired and plugged there are 26 runs of 19.8 metres on each side to be caulked with 80kgs of oakum (tarred fibre). Two 18.5 metre long trees sourced in Gunnislake were delivered to Newham in January – one for Pellew’s main mast and the other will be cut for the bowsprit.

Pellew is named after Admiral Sir Edward Pellew who was educated at Truro Grammar School. Having run away from school to escape a beating he entered the Navy in December 1770 aboard the Juno 32, commanded by Admiral Boscawen’s old boatswain John Stott. After a voyage to the Falkland Islands he followed Stott to the Alarm 32 in August 1772.

Rising through the ranks Pellew was a brilliant commander and tactician renowned as the finest frigate captain during the Napoleonic wars. He lived in Flushing for a period of his naval career. His elder brother Samuel was Collector of Customs at Falmouth for nearly 50 years.

Anyone interested in following this project can view it on Facebook on the Falmouth Pilot Cutter Pellew page.