Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Priscilla discovery Fred's Blog

The Priscilla discovery... 
So the time has finally come to put years of planning, organising and excitement into the next big project at Pioneer, Priscilla. She was built as a general 2nd class sailing smack in 1893 at the “Stone Brothers” of Brightlingsea and is the oldest “Stone” built vessel in existence, well, hanging on by a thread!

She’s had a mixed life, originally working out of Brightlingsea fishing during the winter months until she was lengthened from her original 36ft to 43ft overall which enabled her to perform at a faster speed. In 1931 she was sold and operated out of West Mersea and used for oyster dredging and to some extent Stowboating for sprats. The sailing rig was removed in 1933 and engine fitted. She held the Colchester registration of CK 437 for the first part of her working life but was changed to MN 76 in 1970 while still in operation. In 1975 she went into retirement and carried on as a leisure vessel after restoration and a new rig. By 1981 a final attempt to prolong the life of this prestigious vessel was undertaken by the addition of a Ferro Cement “skin” and kept her on the water till she was recovered in a derelict state from a boatyard in Bristol in 2003 by the Pioneer Sailing Trust.
Throughout my time at the PST I’ve known of Priscilla and after seeing what could be done to rebuild Pioneer itself I’ve always thought it would be great to tackle something of similar interest. Through a lot of help from all members at Pioneer that time has come. After months of seeing this boat sitting in the yard waiting patiently for her next step and we have now taken a huge step in completing the breakdown, analysis and plans for restoration with the new keel timber on site ready to be shaped accordingly!

One very exciting find from what remains of her was probably the smallest item to be a part of her, something that could have easily been swept away with the rubble, something seemingly unimportant but is all but that. It certainly looked that way on first glance as a rough, brown clump, but due to its location on the old mast step we knew it wasn’t. After carefully cleaning and washing away the years of corrosion I discovered what can only be assumed was the original coin placed under the mast when she was first built over 120 years ago! It’s an 1893 Silver ½ Crown portraying Queen Victoria and was placed under the mast as a sign of good luck, common among most vessels still today.

As it has served her well for the past 120 years I will replace her under the mast and hopefully she will do her job for the next 120!

I’m really looking forward to the restoration of Priscilla with Mick Allen and apprentices over the next few years and although we have a long way to go, this coin will be a reminder of what needs to be done, a goal in the future of this boat and my own ambitions as a carpenter. 

No comments:

Post a Comment