Over Falmouth’s Working Boat Festival I had the chance to sail on the Agnes. The creation of Master Boat Builder, Luke Powell. During the winter months, Agnes is berthed up alongside the Muddy Beach cafe in Penryn under the ownership of Working Sail and run as a charter vessel by Luke and Joanna Powell
And, having admired this wooden boat on countless occasions I was fortunate to be invited aboard.
After some extensive research, this 46’ pilot cutter Agnes was built to the lines of the original Agnes built in 1841. In her heyday, Agnes was the top pilot cutter from the Isles of Scilly. Her dimensions are 46’ on deck x 13’ 3” beam x 8’ 6” draft and she displaces 26 tons. The original Agnes had a long working life ending her days as the last cutter to work out of the Isles of Scilly under Captain Stephen Jenkins whose grandsons Alf and Barry helped launch the new boat in May 2003.
Although Agnes is very much from another age, she has proven herself to be an extremely sea-worthy vessel during the harshest of North Atlantic storms. Yet, also sails beautifully in the lightest of airs. Agnes was originally built for an American owner and sailed across the Atlantic for her first few years of life. Her usual sailing grounds are now around the Celtic shores of Cornwall, Brittany and Southern Ireland to where Working Sail will ground you in the pleasures of traditional sailing and giving you a taste of life afloat.
On the day I sailed there was a rough bunch of folk from all corners of the Kingdom. A Russian who worked for Apple in London and who I impressed with having met the great Russian dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a free-wheeling housewife from Essex who never shut up telling us about her derring-dos on a Folk Boat, a calm and gentle soul from mid-Wales who was building a wooden boat…ten of us, and our host and hostess. The acerbic and lovable Luke who took the helm but was as often as not given due coaching on setting the sails to windward and the timing of his tacking in light winds by his soul mate Joanna. Joanna was certainly the better cook and I did wonder if perhaps she had more simpatico with the light airs. A rumble of domesticated humorous chiding was always in the background.
I was quite happy to pull in the foresail when needed as we tacked up and around Falmouth Bay seeking pockets of wind. My camera, always at the ready, was able to pocket the odd image. What did impress me was the realisation that Falmouth (like Venice) was best appreciated and entered into from the sea, not rail or road. It is a magnificent sight as you pass St Mawes and Pendennis Point. The Harbour Front at Falmouth is a memorable sight and one can only wonder at the thanks many sailors have given to God on their return after a safe passage.
Further up river in Truro Luke is building The Pellew, a reproduction of a 65’ Falmouth Pilot Cutter. thefalmouthpilotcutter.co.uk Please see below:
So Bon Chance Agnes! May I wish you many more fine years under sail.
For more info on The Agnes visit - https://workingsail.co.uk/