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Bristol Channel 52 ft Pilot Cutter 1911 / 2009



Bristol Channel 52 ft Pilot Cutter 1911 / 2009

Designer Bristol Pilot
Builder J Slade & Sons Polruan - rebuilt T Nielsen Gloucester 2009
Date 1911
Length overall 65 ft 7 in / 20 m
Length deck 51 ft 10 in / 15.8 m
Length waterline 44 ft 0 in / 13.4 m
Beam 13 ft 5 in / 4.1 m
Draft 7 ft 7 in / 2.3 m
Displacement 31 Tonnes
Construction Carvel larch planking on oak frames
Engine Beta Marine bv 3600 Diesel
Location United Kingdom
Price GBP 350,000
Vat VAT Not Paid

These details are provisional and may be amended




Each one of these special boats has her own tale to tell. CORNUBIA has proven herself as a blue water cruiser, whose ventures near and far you can read about as a training vessel for sea cadets or much loved family sailing pilot cutter. Rebuilt by T Nielsen & Co under the supervision of pilot cutter aficionado Tony Winter she has received remarkable treatment for a remarkable vessel.

On deck she remains so true to the original yet below she achieves the character of vintage yacht without offending her work boat roots. MCA coded for commercial work, this has included filming and charters specialising in sailing for disabled children.


Vat unpaid

VAT is unpaid on this vessel


Picture acknowledgements

The first picture shown is by courtesy of "Classic Sailing"

The sixth picture; portrait format showing her with the jackyard topsail was taken by John Hepburn, one of the mates latterly serving aboard



Built in 1911 for Barry pilot George Morrice by J Slade & Sons in Polruan, Cornwall, CORNUBIA; (the Roman name for Cornwall) was one of only two pilot cutters built at this yard. Her owner continued to use her to pilot ships in and out of Barry for ten years, operating as BARRY PILOT No 25 In 1920 he sold her to become a yacht, whereupon she was renamed TROUBADOUR.

From 1930 to 1982, she had a succession of 8 owners, was apparently sailed twice to America and back, and was loaned to the Sea Cadets on the Isle of Bute as a training ship during the Second World War by her then owner, the Earl of Dumfries. On 3 November 1939 he had renamed her HIRTA after the St Kilda island of that name that he owned, to and from which he used to sail himself in the cutter.

As HIRTA she was bought in Scotland by Derek Hare who during the 1950s lived aboard for some of that time at Fisher's Quay, Great Yarmouth. In 1954 he lent HIRTA to Mark Grimwade; then aged 19. For several years he and his crew sailed her all over the southern North Sea out of the River Orwell.

Sold to Adam Berguis in 1958, he shared the ownership with John Denholm until 1982. They both sailed her on the west coast of Scotland and continually maintained the vessel. The major work was all done professionally, including the installation of a new engine and windlass, as well as a complete re-decking which included the replacement of most of the beams as well as nearly all the lodging knees.

In 1982 she was bought by the yachting author Tom Cunliffe and fitted out for ocean sailing on the Medina River in the Isle of Wight. Cunliffe with his young family sailed her to Norway, Iceland, the Faeroes and America in the wake of the Vikings and later wrote about the journey in ‘Topsail and Battleaxe’.

In the same ownership HIRTA made many more voyages, including to the Azores, West Indies, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Spain and France. In 1994, skippered by Tom Cunliffe, she was used in the BBC TV series ‘Island Race’ which was a three month circumnavigation of Britain featuring former hostage John McCarthy and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig.

While properly maintained on an annual basis, a subsequent survey after the yacht had been sold to Mike Jones, revealed structural problems about which neither the vendor nor the purchaser were aware. The potential rectification of these issues prevented her being used for the purpose that she had been purchased for and as Mike Jones did not have the funds to carry out this work, he laid her up in a mud berth at Gweek. She remained there until the Tallships Restoration Company purchased her in 1999 then trucking to Gloucester to be rebuilt by T Nielsen & Co. Restoration work started in 2004 and although most of the fabric was beyond conservation, eight pieces of the original timber were incorporated into the hull including the 1911 beam carving of her official number and tonnage. Also original is much of the ironwork on the mast, the chain plates, the main blocks, some with patent sheaves, the bilge pump along with the Cornish shield and her brass builder’s plate.

In 2007 she reverted to her original name CORNUBIA, and was re launched in 2009. She is now based at the Mayflower Marina, Plymouth, and her charterers, the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter Trust, take disabled young people on day sailing outings. Her professional crew comprises a skipper and two mates. In 2010 she won the Bristol Channel and St Mawes pilot cutter races.



- Carvel larch planking all silicone bronze fastened
- Oak frames
- Original elm deadwoods
- Douglas fir decks
- Teak cockpit, hatches, skylight and rail cappings
- Elm cabin sole
- White painted larch panelled interior with teak doors, work surfaces and trim


Accommodation and domestic equipment

From cockpit, main hatch with sliding roof forward and companionway steps down
- Quarter berth up behind sliding doors to port extending aft
- Quarter berth up to starboard extending aft
- Chart table forward to starboard
- Corridor forward with doorways off each side to
- Engine room to port
- Head compartment to stbd
- Double doors forward to

- 2 x Long settee berths; 1 each side with lee cloths and water tanks under
- 2 x Pilot berths; 1 each side behind sliding doors up and outboard, stowage under
- 2 x Sets of cushion covers plus layup canvas covers
- Drop leaf dining table on centreline with removable cross bench, seats 7
- Skylight over
- Lockers forward to port
- Coal locker forward with bookshelf above set against forward bulkhead by mast
- Original brass and copper shield of the Cornwall coat of arms on the saloon fwd port bulkhead
- Original builder’s plate on fwd stbd bulkhead
- Brass clock and barometer
- Dover anthracite burning stove with oven to stbd
- Doorway offset to starboard to galley and forward accommodation

Galley to stbd
- Gimballed Taylor 2 burner paraffin hob and oven
- Microwave oven
- Teak worktop forward
- Fridge
- Large stainless steel sink with brass manual pump tap
- Lockers above outboard and under

- Cable locker on centreline with enclosed cable run from deck
- 2 x Berths up and under outboard extending aft behind saloon on port side
- Fore peak with ample stowage and one sleeping mattress
- Back aft with substantial stowage for warps, lines cleaning materials etc in racks to port
- Companionway ladder to fore deck


Rig, spars, sails and canvas

- Mast, boom and bowsprit solid Douglas Fir 2011 / 12
- Gaff age unknown
- Topsail spars and setting boom hollow Douglas fir by Noble Masts
- Sails by James Lawrence 2010
- Mainsail, yard topsail
- 2 x Foresails
- 3 Jibs
- Balloon jib, jib topsail
- Additional foresail, topsail and trysail pre 2010; actual ages and makes unknown
- Mainsail cover
- Canvas winter covers for both hatches and skylight


Deck equipment and ground tackle

- 11 ft Clinker punt by Stirling & Son 2009, rowing oars, sculling oar
- Anchors etc on removable deck chocks
- Honda outboard
- Fitted hatches and covers
- Bower, second and kedge anchors
- 60 fathoms chain
- Barrel windlass mounted forward on bitt heads
- Kedge, chain and warp stowed below
- Spar rack to starboard


Mechanical electrical and tankage

- Beta Marine 3600 Diesel 75 BHP @2,600 rpm
- Hydraulic transmission
- Twin Featherstream propellers
- Inverter
- 80 gall fuel tank
- 140 gall water tanks


Navigation, communications and electronics

- Garmin GPS Map 4012
- Raymarine ST60 echo sounder
- ICS6 Navtex
- Garmin VHF 200i
- 2 x ICOM handheld VHF
- Additional brass clock and barometer



- McMurdo EPIRB
- All safety equipment on board to satisfy MCA coded Cat 2 for 12 persons including crew


Restoration / refit

2004 to 2009 Fully rebuilt to original design and layout, retaining a small quantity of the original timbers and ironwork


Cradle / frame

CORNUBIA has her own Atlas custom built galvanised steel cradle for storage ashore, refits etc.


These particulars have been prepared from information provided by the vendors and are intended as a general guide. The purchaser should confirm details of concern to them by survey or engineers inspection. The purchaser should also ensure that the purchase contract properly reflects their concerns and specifies details on which they wish to rely.


Sandeman Yacht Company

Brokerage Of Classic & Vintage Yachts