Lead wanted

Planking nearly complete on Pete Goss' 37ft Spirit of Mystery

Thursday March 13th 2008, Author: Stuart Elford, Location: United Kingdom
Sailor and adventurer Pete Goss is celebrating a double milestone for his latest project this Friday (14th March), which is not only straight out of history - it incorporates it too.

On 14 March 153 years ago, a 37ft wooden Mounts Bay lugger called Mystery arrived in Australia after an epic voyage from Cornwall. Pete is building Spirit of Mystery to shine a light on the bravery of the seven Cornishmen who made the heroic journey to Melbourne to escape poverty and seek out a new life in Australia.

Today, in a small boatyard in South East Cornwall, Spirit of Mystery is about to reach a major milestone in wooden boat building - completion of the planking. Spirit of Mystery has just five planks left to fit, which should be finished in the next week, keeping her well on schedule for her planned launch in June.

Spirit of Mystery is also having history literally built into it by the construction team of Chris Rees, John Albrecht and Andy Grieve. Pete has sourced a piece of oak from Nelson's Victory, teak from the Cutty Sark and a part of the rigging from the SS Great Britain.

It is a real community project too with many members of the public getting involved, such as Peter Childs, who came to visit with his Grandson Harry and brought some lead for the keel. It comes from his father's diving belt, part of which also made a donation to the keel of Goss' Open 50 Aqua Quorum. Three tons of lead has so far been donated by the local community and Pete still needs two more.

Goss said: “Boats can develop real character and as Spirit of Mystery takes shape you can feel the spirit of history and community in her. I am getting more and more excited about the forthcoming voyage to Australia, but whilst the accommodation is more spacious and comfortable than most of the boats I am used to, the recent gales hit the boatyard hard and gave a timely reminder of what the Southern Ocean has in store for us.”

A log entry from 6 March 1855 gives a taste of what the original crew of Mystery encountered: “A terrific gale of wind - heaviest so far experienced. Our gallant little boat rides the mountains of sea remarkably well.”  

Leaving Newlyn on Saturday 18 November 1854, the Mystery travelled about 11,800 nautical miles in 116 days before arriving in Melbourne on 14 March 1855. Pete says he has real admiration for the courage and determination shown by the crew 153 years ago, when ocean sailing was in its infancy. “We will raise a glass to those brave men and we hope that Spirit of Mystery will inspire people to find out more and get involved with the project.”

The project brings history to life for Cornwall Playing for Success, a charity of which Goss is a founding trustee, and the project has so far raised £10,000 for the charity and the Sense of Place educational programme. Children from Cornwall Playing for Success have been down to visit the boat, see her being built and follow her progress through Pete’s blog on the website – www.petegoss.com/mystery/blog.php , through which descendants of the original crew have already been in touch.

It is planned to launch Spirit of Mystery on Saturday 21 June and commence the passage in the last week of October.

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