1904 Mascotte needs little introduction to pilot cutter fans.

At 60ft she is the largest surviving Bristol Channel pilot cutter, and with her beautiful cream sails and sheer elegance she cannot help grab all the attention of the whole fleet at events like the Classic Sailing Pilot Cutter Review.

The Edwardian pilots certainly knew how to live when they were on board. The saloon is plush, good sleep was important and the sailing performance had to win their pilot trade for them. It was important to be seaworthy, fast and impressive. All the right ingredients for an amazing charter holiday experience too.

If you want to pay homage to these incredible working vessels, built to withstand some of the wildest seas around our coast, then a few days sailing Mascotte would be a perfect pilgrimage.

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Ship Stats

Length Overall

75ft

Length On Deck

60ft

Year Built

1904

Vessel Type / Rig

Gaff Cutter

Guest Berths

5-7

Crew Berths

2-3

What this vessel does best

Mascotte under full sail off St Mawes Castle
Mascotte under full sail off St Mawes Castle

Sail an Original Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter

Classic Sailing has been promoting pilot cutters – originals and some stunning replicas – for over two decades. We launched Classic Sailing by buying Luke Powell’s first wooden pilot cutter replica ‘Eve of St Mawes.’ Since 1997 we have have offered voyages for adult guest crew on original pilot cutter Alpha and traditionally rigged replicas Eve,  Lizzie May, Ezra, Annabel J, Amelie Rose, Morwenna, and currently the 46ft Scillonian pilot cutter Agnes.

The number of original pilot cutters out there offering the public a chance to sail is shrinking. Mascotte is currently the only original pilot cutter offering a season of voyages for adult charter guests. Mascotte was restored by Tony Winter at the Tommi Neilsen & Co shipyard in Gloucester. Whilst many timbers are new, every item above and below decks was carefully restored or replaced as authentically as possible. She still has an Edwardian style interior with mahogany panelling, pilot cabin berths and a big saloon for memorable crew evenings.

Mascotte and Cornubia - both restored by Tony Winter
Mascotte and Cornubia – both restored by Tony Winter

Turns Heads & Steals the Show

Mascotte manages to achieve what millionaires with modern super-yachts can only dream of – she effortlessly turns heads wherever she goes. Not in a showy way, but just with her sheer presence, perfectly proportional cutter rig and hull shape. If you sail on board her wide wooden decks you can feel like a king and it is sometimes hard to think that Mascotte was built in 1904 to work for living. It was a lucrative trade but Mascotte was still out in all weathers, winter and summer,  roving the Western Approaches to the English Channel and Irish Sea for tall ships that needed a pilot.

No historic vessel over 115 years old survives without a lot of love and restoration. We owe it to past and current owners that she is still here and looking good. Her current owner is happy for you to come and experience the magic that is Mascotte, with a professional skipper and mate to help you all set sail and make it look easy with teamwork. All Classic Sailing voyages are about participating in the sailing. Mascotte’s gaff mainsail is a big sail to hoist, but this is a ‘sailing ‘ship’ with one mast only. When the main gaff is up, its up it’s up….and gravity is your friend when it comes down. Don’t get too comfy though. We haven’t talked about gybing yet…

crew action on Mascotte. Photo by Debbie Purser
crew action on Mascotte. Photo by Debbie Purser

Quietly and quickly get ahead of the fleet

Waterline length and hull shape plus a sail area extended by bowsprits, jackyards and over-hanging booms gives you speed. Pilot cutters this size were the racing greyhounds of their day. Mascotte has a 2.43m so she can hold a lot of sail when others are reefing. Her job historically was to quietly and quickly get ahead of her other pilot cutter rivals and win the pilot job with a Europe bound cargo ship.

This design combination gives you a thrilling sensation as her 55 tones of oak and larch cuts through the sea. She once sailed al the way from Lands End to Dover to gain a lucrative pilot contract, so if you chose a passage making offshore voyage she will be in her element.

The deep waters of the West Country offer her a perfect cruising ground for more leisurely pastimes or a spot of summer racing.

Mascotte gliding under St Mawes castle.
Mascotte gliding under St Mawes castle. Photo Debbie Purser

Style of Sailing

No experience is needed but even if you have done some sailing on other vessels, Mascotte only has the one mast so she looks quite simple, but she has quite a sail wardrobe to try with several types of headsail. The gaff mainsail has peak and throat halliards to hoist the sail and the big wooden gaff that gives it the distinctive shape. The skills you learn to handle these sails are easily transferable to all the gaff rigged vessels in the Classic Sailing fleet.

Mascotte voyages are all about immersive, hands-on experience with plenty of helming, sail handling and learning. The crew are happy to cover basic navigation skills and get guests involved taking bearings and reading the chart. Basic ropework also covered, including knots and splicing practice, line handling etc. 

If you just want a bit of fresh air and a digital dettox then you can let the technical stuff wash over you and just enjoy each challenge as it comes and soak up the scenery of the rugged Cornwall coast.

The deep harbours of Cornwall and Devon are ideal for Mascotte
The deep harbours of Cornwall and Devon are ideal for Mascotte

Mascotte is tiller steered from a classic Bristol Channel pilot cutter cockpit. It is a big tiller so it makes you feel quite important and it is also rather thrilling. In the open bays of Cornwall and Devon, there is plenty of sea room to get the hang of steering to different angles to the wind. If you are one putting the tiller hard to leeward to tack, then you can rest your body on the tiller and watch the whole manoeurvre unfold. It takes a while to take a 60ft cutter to swing around into the wind and onto the other tack, so revel in the glory whilst the rest of the crew rush around with backstays and sheets.

Lookout duty is important in peak season. Mascotte is sailed with only a small professional crew, so it is very hands-on compared to some of our charter fleet. If there are a lot of other yachts or fishing boats about during day sailing you might not get much chance to read a book, but there is plenty of time to enjoy the unspoilt coastal scenery of Cornwall, whilst you are waiting on the next sailing manoeurvre.

At anchor there is plenty of time to go for a swim in the sea, explore a beach or find the coast path route to the nearest headland.

The cockpit and long tiller on Mascotte
The cockpit and long tiller on Mascotte

Life on Board

When Mascotte is day sailing it is unlikely you will be in a formal watch system. If you feel tired or cold there is usually enough keen people to keep Mascotte sailing whilst you warm up below.

On long passages or overnight Channel crossings the guest crew will be split into watches with the skipper or mate in charge. This way half the crew sails the boat whilst the other sleeps / relaxes to a watch rota schedule.

Accommodation

Below Decks on Mascotte

As you come down the main companionway steps there is a corridor to the saloon with varnished wood panelling and a series of intriguing doors with brass knobs. Pilot cutters were typically built for a number of pilots, operating as a syndicate. The cutter has to accommodate them all on board until a ship requiring a pilot could be found. There is full standing headroom below decks. The companionways are steps but quite steep, as in most boats.

Double ‘Cupboard’ Cabin

The first cabins port and starboard cabins on original pilot cutters in Mascotte’s era were more like a bed tucked into a large double bed sized cupboard space. You crawled into a cosy space and shut the doors. Charter guests might find these a bit of an acquired taste, but one of the two is available to book (and if two of you love each other very much, this is the most cost effective way to sail aboard).

mascotte double cupboard cabin accommodation
double ‘cupboard’ cabin

Single ‘Owners’ Cabin

If you book early enough, then this is a proper cabin with a single berth, floorspace, desk, storage cupboards and bookshelf. It is just off the main companionway to starboard with a WC on the other side of the corridor. There is another WC and shower up in the forward part of the boat.

mascotte single cabin accommodation
single cabin

Forward Cabin – 4 berths 203 cms long

There are 2 bunks on either side in the forward cabin. There are storage lockers, a small amount of floor space, and shelving right up in the forepeak area. The main WC and shower just outside this cabin, forward of the main saloon. There is another WC near the aft main companionway.

Whilst the large saloon is the heart of the ship, the remaining space for cabins and bunks is not massive. The forward cabin is standard yacht style communal accommodation with bunks on either side. This will be mixed gender. Please let us know if this is a problem for you when booking.

Mascotte forepeak bunks accommodation
forepeak bunks

Edwardian Mahogany Panelled Saloon

Describing the ambience of a space is not always easy. Think polished wood tables, drinks cabinets and the sort of upholstery that really shouldn’t be on a boat. Oilskins off and enjoy the opulence and the fact that you don’t have to cook for the week / weekend. There is a small woodburner for keeping warm in Spring and Autumn.

Mascotte saloon interior accommodation
mascotte’s saloon

Galley & Forward of the Mast

Strange by modern yacht layouts, but pilot cutter galleys were forward of the mast. As you go past the mighty keel stepped main mast there is a galley to starboard and the WC /shower to port.

Ship Specification

Mascotte in Falmouth
Mascotte in Falmouth. Photo Adam Purser

Mascotte Ship Specification

DesignerThomas CoxBeam15ft (4.57m)
BuilderWilliam StaceyDraft2.43m
Date 1904Displacement55 tonnes
Length overall Constructionlarch on oak
Length on deck60ft (18.28m)Engine140hp Ford
Waterline length crew / guests2 crew 5-8 guests

Mascotte does have a big sail collection. There is no furling jib, so there are different size jibs for different wind strengths.

The engine has twin feathering propellers so when sailing there is no drag which is why this very heavy cutter sometimes surprises other yachts in light winds.

There are 2 generators and a hot water system heated by engine or an immersion heater.

24 hour electricity and hot water (including a boiling water tap for instant cups of tea!) all make Mascotte a very comfortable ship for adventuring on.

Ships Boat

Mascotte has so much deck space she has a copy of a punt (rowing boat) from the 1900’s.  The punt is called Hilda and has oars and a lug sail. 

Depending on conditions and passage plan, you may well get the opportunity for sailing Hilda whilst Mascotte is moored or anchored.

mascotte punt dinghy sail tender small boat skills
sailing the punt

Mascotte Ships History

MASCOTTE was built in 1904 by pilot Thomas Cox of Newport, Wales and boat builder William Stacey.

Thomas Cox had a Barry & Newport Pilot Licence. He also had a Newport Pilot son and a nephew who was a Barry Pilot. The N on the mainsail denotes a Newport licence and By on the staysail is for Barry. MASCOTTE accommodated all three of them and was therefore built 60 ft overall (10 ft longer than most pilot cutters!). The service and flexibility that MASCOTTE could offer made her owners wealthy men.

An example of the distances sailed to find a ‘profitable ship’ – MASCOTTE once sailed around Land’s End and on to Dover to meet a ship from London bound for Newport.

Mascotte was a working pilot cutter for 11 years until 1915 when the advent of the steam cutters put her and many others out of business and she was sold out of the pilotage service. 

In the 1920’s and 1930’s she acquired a few yachty modifications and mixed with other classic yachts of the day. During World War II, MASCOTTE was laid up at Hamble.

In 1957, she narrowly escaped the breaker’s yard, and was turned into a houseboat. But in 1980 she was discovered languishing in the River Medina by Paul Kennard who, recognising the quality of design, bought her and towed her to his home port of Rye. He undertook her first restoration, replacing much of her planking.

She was then bought by a Cardiff brewery and suffered a short period of neglect. In 1994, her new owner Tony Winter commissioned Tommi Nielsen to bring MASCOTTE back to her former glory as a working Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter. Her final restoration, completed in April 1995, won her work in film and television.

Her current owner enjoyed sailing Mascotte himself, taking part in festivals and pilot cutter racing when he could. The rest of the time Mascotte was also a charter vessel exploring Scotland and the Atlantic seaboard of Europe. Her professional skipper Richard Clapham died very sadly in 2019, and the current crew do all they can to maintain Rich’s style of sailing and enthusiasm for these historic working boats.

In memory of Skipper Richard
In memory of Mascotte’s former skipper Richard

Original pilot cutters Mascotte & Cornubia
Original pilot cutters Mascotte & Cornubia

Voyages on Mascotte

Mascotte

St Mawes Pilot Cutter Review 2023 MT240523

Embark

Wed 24-05-2023

Falmouth, Cornwall

Disembark

Mon 29-05-2023

Falmouth, Cornwall

sailing holidays on mascotte with classic sailing

From

£905

Mascotte

Sail & Hike: Exploring by Land and Sea (5 nights) MT090923

Embark

Sat 09-09-2023

Falmouth, Cornwall

Disembark

Thu 14-09-2023

Falmouth, Cornwall

From

£850

Mascotte

Breton Adventure including Paimpol Shanty Festival MT310723

Embark

Mon 31-07-2023

Falmouth, Cornwall

Disembark

Wed 09-08-2023

Falmouth, Cornwall

Fully Booked