153 years later

Pete Goss to sail to Australia on 37ft wooden lugger in the wake of seven Cornishmen

Tuesday December 18th 2007, Author: Stuart Elford, Location: United Kingdom
Sailor and adventurer Pete Goss has announced his latest exciting project and, while another boat-build and epic sailing voyage, it is a total departure from the fast and high-tech yachts he is known for.

Goss is building a wooden lugger and following in the wake of seven Cornishmen who made a heroic journey to Australia 153 years ago. Proud of his West country roots and an enthusiastic wood-worker, the project is something he has wanted to do since he heard about the inspirational voyage of the Mystery.

The 37 ft Mystery was an open Mounts Bay Lugger built in Newlyn. Times were hard and the seven Cornishmen, all related by either blood or marriage and share holders in the Mystery, made the decision to try their luck at the Australian gold rush over a pint in the Star Inn, Newlyn. It was suggested that the Mystery be sold to cover the passage. Captain Richard Nicholls, with a couple under his belt and in good spirits, said: “I’ll take you in the Mystery”; and so an amazing adventure was born.

Leaving Newlyn on Saturday 18 November 1854, the boat travelled about 11,800 nautical miles in 116 days before arriving in Melbourne on 14 March 1855. The only break in the voyage was a week in Cape Town for repairs and replenishment before heading into the Southern Ocean.

A log entry from 6 March 1855 gives a taste of what they encountered : “A terrific gale of wind – heaviest so far experienced. Our gallant little boat rides the mountains of sea remarkably well. Not shipping any water, dry decks fore and aft. I am confident she is making better weather than a great many ships would, if here.”

Now, 153 years later, Goss is building Spirit of Mystery in a boat yard at Millbrook in South East Cornwall to celebrate their amazing achievement. The vessel will be as true to the original Mystery as possible and, although there will be concessions to safety, there will be no engine, toilet or modern electrical and navigational systems. So far, the keel, stem and stern have been laid and much of the wood has been sourced locally, including using fallen Cornish Oak.

Goss says that he is enjoying building the boat and looking forward to navigating by the stars: “I have always wanted to build a wooden boat and relish the challenge and adventure of sailing such a small vessel to Australia.”

When asked why he wanted to build the boat and re-create the voyage, he said: “In short, I just fancy it and, as in the past, I find that is enough to just get up and go for it. So here we are on the brink of another exciting adventure that has the added element of history, which I find I am really enjoying. Life is for living and this, for me, is life at its best.”

The Spirit of Mystery is also a perfect vehicle to support Cornwall Playing for Success, an educational charity of which he is founding trustee. Frank Perry is the charity’s Chairman: "I am so excited at the opportunity for Cornwall Playing for Success to be linked to Pete's exciting project. Cornish school children will be engaged in all aspects of the project and curriculum materials will be developed to enable them to have a real understanding of the significance of the original voyage, as well as the complexity of organising and undertaking such a journey today."

It is planned to launch the yacht on Saturday 21st June and commence the passage in mid-October. More information about the project and the original voyage can be found on http://www.petegoss.com

More photos on the following pages...

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