Despite the weather forecast creating a big headache with anticipated storm conditions for the 29th February, the 400 tonnes crane that was ordered arrived on Friday lunchtime to set up for the planned Saturday morning lift. It arrived with a team of men and two artic lorries with wooden pads for it to sit on and extra weights. The crane team felt confident, having dealt with the high winds over the previous weeks that they would be able find the weather window to do the lift and act quickly to keep everything on track to get Pellew sailing. They needed to be back on the road by Monday morning at the latest so the clock was ticking.
By Friday evening it was decided that we would gather at the yard early on Saturday morning to attempt the lift of the boat if the weather allowed, if it didn’t then we would have to just wait. By 6.30am on Saturday morning the crane operator confirmed they were happy to try the lift but that could change at any time if the wind increased too much.
On arriving at the yard we spent a tense hour watching the crane booms rise and fall above Pellew’s decks as the bright orange slings were moved into a position where everyone was happy. In between the hail storms the sun came out and we were blessed with amazing sunshine for the actual lift.
8 am – it was about time to lift! Even then it was a slow process… The shed where she had been built had been deconstructed to allow her to be launched. However the front section had been left in place to allow it to be reinstated afterwards to allow boats to come to the yard. This meant that she had to be pulled out backward, slightly ungainly with her nose down and her back end up in the air. As though she was holding on desperately to her previous home and the props that kept her up right during the whole build process. The sense of anticipation was great as she gracefully swung across the full width of the yard in one move and then started her slow and controlled plunge into the water.
A small group of people gathered in the yard and also across the river from the yard who had been able to act quickly to be there to see the boat take to the water for the first time. When her bow kissed the water for the first time the whoops of excitement from both sides of the river was amazing to hear and sent shivers down the spine. She really was a sight to be seen.
The crane operator and his team on the ground appreciated they were involved in something rather special. Lifting large wooden pilot cutter’s into the water was outside the norm of what they normally lift and so they all looked like they were enjoying the experience as well with big smiles on their faces.
The excitement continued to build as the boat dropped into the water and the strops started to lose their tension as the water took over. She weighed in at 56 tonnes which meant she sat quite high on her lines with her antifoul, which should be under the water sitting prominently above it. It is anticipated that she will eventually need to take on a further 20 more tonnes of weight before she goes sailing.
Before the mast was lifted we rotated her 180 degrees, from facing up river towards truro to facing down river and towards the sea. Using ropes and teamwork it was a graceful move that allowed her to admire from every angle. Also it means that she will not need to do the move when she has been loaded up with further ballast and her rigging, it is a small channel.
While this was going on the crane team and Jay from Traditional rigging was prepping the mast for the lift. A lot of the standing rigging that will secure the mast in place was already attached to the mast and tied around it to ensure that it could easily be measured when aloft. The crane powering up again to lift the mast almost took the watching crowd by surprise as everyone was revelling in the sight of the boat and had almost forgotten about the mast. Pellew’s mast weighed in at over 2 tonnes as it is a solid laminate mast made up of several large planks. The installation (stepping) of the mast went without a hitch despite a little moment of uncertainty when they thought it might be overly tight. Mast chocks were knocked into place to stop it moving from side to side and forward and backwards at deck level before jay climbed up to remove the lift strop and secure it into place.
“It is always a memorable day in any boat build when we get to launch day! As ever this was incredible and we were so lucky with the weather. It was great to be able to share it with our friends and those who have followed the project this far. Now the work continues apace to get her ready to sail at the beginning of May.” Luke Powell
This summer Pellew will be exploring the Cornish coastline, the Isles of Scilly and Brittany with guest crew and with Luke as the skipper from early May through to September. Don’t miss out on being part of her adventure