Sailing Pellew, the biggest Falmouth pilot cutter in 150 years

Pellew is the largest Falmouth pilot cutter launched in Britain for more than 150 years, but represents something even greater, as James Stewart discovers

The upper reaches of the River Truro are not an obvious source of sailing innovation. No foiling cats fly over its shallows as at nearby Carrick Roads. The high-tech superyachts of Falmouth’s Pendennis yard are unlikely to appear anytime soon. Yet it’s here, among light-industrial units and auto-mechanics playing Radio 2, between a metal scrapyard and gas storage tanks, that one of the most interesting recent launches in British sailing has emerged, a Falmouth pilot cutter named Pellew.

In February 2020 the 68ft hull of the Pellew was lowered into the river from the Rhoda Mary Shipyard. When I visit a year on from that momentous day – the culmination of over four years’ work and goodness knows how many more planning – the frame of a similar 19th-century cutter stands on the hard mid-restoration.

“She’ll cost her owner a million quid to restore,” Luke Powell says. “But there’s no logic to wooden boats. Building one is just cavalier and mad, a romantic idea that it’s something worth doing.”

Grasp that and you’re halfway to understanding why Powell built Pellew, the largest Falmouth pilot cutter launched in Britain for more than 150 years. With 2020 lost, she begins her maiden charter season this summer.

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