|Wed 24-05-2023, 17:00Falmouth, Cornwall||Mon 29-05-2023, 10:00Falmouth, Cornwall||Mascotte||5 Nights||MT240523|
Join the ship in Falmouth for dinner on board and a familiarisation from the crew, before slipping lines and setting sail. You’ll have plenty of time to learn the ropes en route to Fowey where a host of other pilot cutters will be gathering ahead of the annual Classic Sailing Pilot Cutter Review.
Sail aboard the largest original Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter for the passage race from Fowey to St Mawes, and then a weekend of racing and entertainment in the Fall Estuary.
The evenings socialising are as important as the racing for this highlight of the maritime calendar. Sail hard, play hard, always with an atmosphere of friendly competitiveness!
This is the perfect exhilarating escape for any traditional sailing fan. The pilot cutters are among the fastest of the UKs traditional fleet, having been designed to race each other out to incoming cargo ships to secure their business.
Solo travellers, couples and groups all welcome. If you’re looking for an exciting holiday with a group of up to 7, get in touch to talk about group charter for this event (subject to availability).
An annual gathering of pilot cutters is something Classic Sailing has organised since 2008. This will be the first time that Mascotte is available to book for the event, although she has been a stalwart competitor for many years. This mix of racing, parades of sail and small scale social events ashore is a time for working boats to dig out their racing sails and prove their pedigree for fast sailing. Help us create scenes from a bye-gone era, at a lovely time of year when Cornish ports are relatively empty of modern yachts.
Yes there is always plenty of racing at the Pilot Cutter Review each year, but for me the backdrop is everything. It’s about creating evocative scenes out on the water and in the quaint Cornish ports. A floating museum of original pilot cutters and authentic replicas arrives at host ports and the public can go sailing on them and immerse themselves from this year was their timeless quality. The beauty the harbours we grace for our crew parties is that they all have deep significance for our maritime heritage. Charlestown is so unchanged as a working port it is used regularly for film sets like Poldark. Fowey grew rich on merchant sailing vessels and privateering and St Mawes and Falmouth would have pilot cutters at anchor all year round, waiting to rush out like greyhounds to offer their pilot services to the tall ships.
Original pilot cutters that regularly attend include Marguerite, Olga, Jolie Brise, Peggy and sometimes Cornubia. You can understand why they were so regarded as seaworthy working vessels that had the grace to capture the publics hearts when they spread their sails and raced out to sea to meet ships.
There are also many replicas who race as stylishly as the originals. These traditionally built, wooden beauties really showcase the revival of wooden boat building in Cornwall in particular, but also Bristol and Tommi Neilson’s in Gloucester.
Luke Powell of Working Sail has built 9 pilot cutters who have nearly all taken part in our Pilot Cutter Review. In fact Luke made wooden trophy half model for the event. Likely to be attending in 2023 are Eve of St Mawes, Amelie Rose and Tallulah.
Cornish wooden boatbuilding was also represented well by pilot cutters built by Cockwell’s Modern & Classic Boatbuilding Ltd, and the Bristol boat yards have added great boats like Pegasus, Merlin and Edith Grey.
Join the ship in Falmouth for dinner on board and a familiarisation from the crew. There’ll be plenty of time to learn the ropes in ‘slow time’ for the first passage of this trip, before sailing into Fowey between the high cliffs. Whatever your race position, Fowey welcomes sailing ships with party lights and shelter.
The Gallants Sailing Club is usually our host, with a bar, showers and a long tradition of seeking prizes. Even if there are covid restrictions the sailing club has an outside terrace and a covered yard with waterside views.
Not all crews are charter guests so food ashore to buy is provided at most evening venues. There’ll be the option on Mascotte to either enjoy food on board or enjoy the hospitality ashore.
The Passage Race from Fowey to St Mawes is a great spectacle for tourists in Fowey and Polruan as they see the pilot cutters set sail within this deep weather harbour. Departure is usually 10am but we have to liaise with the port authorities to give us the best time to miss any shipping and be able to sail out the entrance.
The route along the coast has many interesting features to add to the passage making strategy. Gribben Head, Gwineas Rocks, the strange winds and tides of the Dodman and the final corner around St Antony Lighthouse and into the finish in St Mawes Bay.
Some crews race hard, others just enjoy the passage and the marine wildlife and seabirds on route. Mascotte’s crew will always sail with you in mind, so how hard she’s pushed will be up to the group as a whole.
The Pilot Cutters anchor in St Mawes Bay, and then Mascotte’s sailing punt can be launched: it is fun to visit the other crews.
Ashore we meet up on the sun terrace of the Bohella Bar for a ’round the cans race briefing’ and paella cooked on the giant BBQ or similar hearty food.
Open to the South West, St Mawes Bay provides a clear view of the Manacles and down towards the Lizard. Gaining a head start on the Falmouth based pilot cutters, several large pilot cutters were based in the village, and its boatyards were famous for building fast pilot gigs. Classic Sailing created the pilot cutter review event to celebrate the local pilot trade connection, and the local community gets a great thrill from hosting the ‘big’ pilot cutter racing as an extra annual event to complement its Falmouth Working Boat ‘World Championships and various gig boat events.
St Mawes Bay is less than half a mile wide and with hills all around makes a perfect amphitheatre for visitors and locals to watch the start and finish of each race.
St Mawes Sailing Club have been designing suitable race courses for the big pilot cutters since 2008. They understand it is part spectacle and partly competitive racing, but they understand that these boats like a good romp without miles of beating to windward. Aiming for 2 races in St Mawes Harbour and Carrick Roads
On Saturday evening it is tradition for the boats to sail up the River Fal to large mid river pontoons where all boats can raft up and socialise. Usually each vessel offers some sort of BBQ on deck or al fresco meal. The setting is surrounded by oak woodlands and rural landscapes.
1 or 2 races St Mawes Harbour and Carrick Roads
The voyage ends on Monday morning to give you time for a good rest before travelling, and so Mascotte can return to Falmouth for disembarkation. If you wish to get off on Sunday night then that is also possible.
On a sailing voyage we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast and most idyllic or sheltered anchors and ports. With an event like the pilot cutter review we try to run to programme but the weather is always the boss. The description above is based on what we think might be possible, based on past trips, or experience, but nothing is guaranteed on a sailing voyage. Racing has to be safe for the level of the crew abilities before we will participate.
Whether you are an experienced sailor or a complete beginner, the professional crew will train you to be guest crew from the moment you arrive, with the intention that everybody works together to sail the ship. The common thread to all Classic Sailing holidays is ‘Hands on’ participation on ships that use ropes, blocks and tackles and ‘people power’ to set sail.
We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities, and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands on participation. There is a lot of information about day to day life, the ships facilities and accommodation on the vessel pages.
Every customer sailing with us will need to fill in basic medical questions on their booking application. If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility are up to a voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better.
We now have several vessels that use Falmouth as a joining or leaving port. As every vessel is different, and we do not have our own pontoon there, all joining instructions are slightly different. Any changes will be communicated to you before your voyage start date.
This is a list of the likely joining locations, but sometimes the ship can also be at anchor. Read the vessel’s joining instructions carefully for full details.
Click on the two Blue Pins for more information on the joining locations on the map below:
Port Pendennis is the small marina behind the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and the nearest rail station is ‘Falmouth Town’ (3 mins walk). The Maritime Museum has a big tower like a lighthouse so aim for that and at the entrance, turn right and walk down the side of the museum. The gate to the marina is behind the museum building.
Custom House Quay is a stone quay enclosing a small wet dock in the Centre of Falmouth Town. It is used for some of the foot ferries to St Mawes in the peak summer. Only 5 minutes walk from Falmouth Town Station if you head towards the town centre. Situated at the Maritime Museum end of the high street and has its own short stay car park between Trago Mills Store and the Chain Locker Pub if you are driving (see long term parking below) and want to drop your bags first.
Falmouth Visitors Yacht Haven is about 100 yards beyond Custom House Quay but if walking from the rail station towards town it is best if you walk accross Custom House Quay short term car park and nip through the alley tunnel through the Chain Locker Pub. The yacht haven is a small marina only yards from Falmouth main shopping street (Arwenack St), tucked away down the bottom of Quay Street.
Great trip, good food and company.Don
Loved every minute. Fantastic experience on a beautiful boat!Heather
Beautiful boat, friendly experienced staff, give it a go!Caroline
Such a wonderful experience aboard the most fabulous pilot cutter. It truly was 'as good as it gets'. Three days of the most wonderful sailing imaginable, in the most beautiful boat, in the most capable, charming and safe hands of the crew. Thank you, thank you, thank you all.John & Chrissie
The largest surviving Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter Mascotte is 60 ft on deck. Built in 1904 in Wales and restored in Gloucester Mascotte is a magnificent example of Welsh maritime history. She is now offering short sailing breaks around Cornwall from her new home port of Charlestown Harbour.
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St Mawes, Cornwall
St Mawes, Cornwall
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