Image Courtesy of Colyn Thomas
PG-001 The Spirit of Mystery from Conception to Completion by Colyn Thomas

The original Voyage of “Mystery” from Newlyn to Melbourne in Australia 1854 is shown above.

I have had both the pleasure and privilege to watch and photograph the build of Peter Goss’s boat the “Spirit of Mystery being built during the end of 2007 and 21st June 2008 the date she was launched and I have compiled well over 900 photographs of the build and her maiden voyage. Peter Goss an ex Royal Marine, is a well known sailor and author, a kind and gentle man and knows the power of the southern ocean storms with the ill fated loss of his catamaran “Team Philips”. He is also known for his bravery, in the 1996/97 Vendee Globe single handed round the world race, he turned backed and sailed up wind battling for two days in 80mph winds to save a near dead capsized fellow competitor Raphael Dinelli. Raphael was very lucky to be alive after surviving for 48 hours in a freezing life raft. Pete became his nurse, feeding him, making him hot sweet tea and giving him physiotherapy while he made a very slow recovery. A feat that earned him the French Legion d’Honneur, presented to him by the French President and the MBE awarded by HM The Queen.

The boat was lofted in St Johns Village Hall in December 2007 near Peters Family home, and the keel was laid at Mill Quay Millbrook soon afterwards. A large shed was erected around the keel, so work could be progressed all the winter and the hull could be completed on schedule. She was winched and craned out of the boat shed on the 6th June 08 when the masts etc were fitted. With the legs attached to the hull there were only inches to spare between the door frames of the shed, so it was a very delicate operation.  She has been built by a very dedicated, professional and skilful team of wooden boat builders, of multi trades and skills; you will see none better in any part of the world. These men who like Pete have been very kind and helpful to me, and given me a free hand in allowing me, to visit the boat yard, enter the workshop and go aboard the boat on a regular basis to enable me to take photographs for my records of the Rame Peninsula and Rame Heritage and record how the boat was built.

Mill Quay, Millbrook, Cornwall, and the boat shed in which “The Spirit of Mystery” was built is immediately opposite my house and owned by Mr Daren Newton. The photographs were taken as and when I visited the site or from my garden, they are mostly grab shots of the day to day working. Peter told me that the “Spirit of Mystery” has many pieces of History in her, such as a piece of oak from Nelsons Victory, A piece of teak from the Cutty Sark which is inlaid into the dining table in the galley, a piece of rigging from SS Great Britain and an oil lamp from a 1938 Hillyard, given to Peter by Mr Michael Morgan (ex commodore of Torpoint Sailing Club) with whom Peter used to go sailing with as a boy. The mast rests on a 1905 penny salvaged from the Newlyn based boat Trewarveneth PZ196 which was broken up last year, found among the mass of broken timbers salvaged. In the years gone by it was customary to place a coin under the base of the mast as a token of good fortune.  A black oak outrigger cleat was manufactured by Chris Rees from the trawler Rosebud PZ87. This trawler was famous for sailing from Newlyn to London in the 1930’s tying up against the Houses of Parliament and in true Cornish spirit petitioning against the planned demolition of much of Newlyn and Mousehole as part of some redevelopment plans.

The main team consisted of Chris Rees designer and boat builder, Chris being a man of many skills and talents has a real passion for luggers, Andy Grieve and Jon Albrecht were the two shipwrights although many others have helped with the project, especially Chris’s wife Marsha, who has worked extremely hard and done most of the painting, a more dedicated team would be extremely hard to find. During the build in March 2008 they experienced some of the worse Southern Ocean Storms and tidal surges to hit the area with wind speeds well in excess of 80 mph and the shed had to be roped down with guy ropes attached to a Land Rover which was acting as an anchor to stop it blowing away. Wooden struts were also fitted to the shed to help support its structure. The tidal surge was so high that planking and various timbers has to be secured to stop them floating away.

Most of the wood to build the boat was from trees felled around the Rame Peninsula area; Bill Gilbert’s woods at Polbathic, Ron Cradock’s of St Germans and some of the oak actually came from Peters Dads Farm at Tredis. Peter told me that he and his team had spent many of enjoyable week ends ferreting the oak out from under mountains of brambles. With selection he could use wood that has grain following the shape of the boats frames, thus making it extremely strong. Most of the planks were sawn out on a portable saw at the mill. The keel stem, rudder and stem post are made from a hardwood called EKKI, the planking is of LARCH, the tiller ASH and the frames are of OAK. The construction is glued, bolted and screwed together so it will be extremely strong.

“Spirit of Mystery” replicates the “Mystery” a mounts bay lugger (Although there are some subtle changes) which left Newlyn on Saturday the 18th November 1854. It was when times were hard that seven Cornishmen, many of which were blood related, or marriage related and all share holders in the “Mystery” decided over a pint of beer in the Star Inn, Newlyn to try their luck in the Australian Gold Rush.

Preparation for the Voyage of “Mystery”
So as not to loose face it was decided to carry out some modifications to the boat in haste and preparations began. A local brewery owner and owner of several of the Newlyn based fishing boats gave his support by offering the sum of £200.00, the money was used to convert the boat for her epic voyage. She was beached; the fish hold was decked in and converted into a cabin with a raised roof, Zinc sheets were added so as to plate in the underwater hull to give protection. The boat was re-floated and provisions taken on board, this consisted of salted beef, pork and hard tack which is the name given to hard dry ships biscuits and a large supply of fresh water

The boats log shows for the first few days they experienced fresh winds and good weather and by the 25th November had reached Madeira. After this they hit the Doldrums, dull days of unbroken calm and blazing sun. To occupy their time they did the fisherman’s walk – six paces up the deck and then overboard. To further fill their time it was decided that each man was to scrape the paint off the hull of the punt (which was lashed to the deck) with their pocket knife a small patch at a time and then take in turns to re-paint it.

On the 17th January 1855 they travelled around the Cape of Good Hope from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean anchoring near the Dockyard in Cape Town before hauling her up the beach to examine her hull. Local authorities here were so impressed by the story of her trip that the Mystery was given the honour of carrying Her Majesty’s mail to Melbourne.

For many days after this they experienced hurricane force winds and mountainous seas but the little boat rode it out without any serious damage and after travelling 11,800 miles in 116 days, they arrived in Melbourne Australia on 14th March 1855. The crew were greeted by a fellow Newlyn man a Mr Edward Cotton and it soon emerged that there were many local men there seeking fame and fortune including a St Just man and Captain Price, son of Sir Rose Price of Trengwainton, near Newlyn.

The original Crew
Was Captain Richard Nicholls, brothers William and Richard Badcock, Navigator Job Kelynack, cousins Philip Curnow Mathews with Lewis Lewis as the general handyman and cook? It is also interesting to note that most of the crew had never been more than 30 miles south of Newlyn, or more than 10 miles west of the Isles of Silly.

Ironically, none of these men found gold and five of the crew returned to Cornwall.

The Plaques and my research
I was so interested in the history of the “Mystery” PE 233 and its connections with “The Spirit of Mystery” that I took a trip to Newlyn and did some research talking to various people including Mr Michael Collier MBE the Fishing Vessel Surveyor of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, various fishermen at the quay side and members of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. On entering the Mission I noticed a Plaque on the wall which was placed there by V.May Wills and N.C.K. Wills in memory of their grandfather Captain Richard Nicholls. Inside the mission in the memoriam room was a wonderful model of the Mystery by Mr Ted George, the registration record of Mystery PE 233, information on the Mystery and her loss. Much of the information on display was from the research of a Mr Jim Mills of Victoria, Australia, whose great grandmother was the sister to Phillip Curnow Mathews. Mr Mill’s family originally came from Gorran approx 10 miles south east of Truro.

Another plaque commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Mystery is situated on the wall of the pier shed of the ports old quay. Which was unveiled by Colonel Edward Bolitho OBE the chairman of the sailors institute trust on the 25th November 2004?

The registration records shows the Mystery was
Built in Newlyn Cornwall in 1847,
The builder is unknown,
She has 2 masts and a dipping lug sail on each,
Running bowsprit (Retractable),
One deck,
Round stern,
Carvel built of wood,
37-1/2 ft long,
11-1/2 ft width Beam,
6ft 4 inches draft,
33ft long keel,
Weight 16 tons.
Registered in Penzance in 1847,
Fishing boat registry PE 233.

Note: - PE was the Penzance registration letters until 1868 when it was changed to PZ

The voyage of the Mystery is also recorded and the log states her as leaving Newlyn on Saturday the 18th November 1854 when she slipped moorings at 11am. These gallant fishermen aboard the Mystery only had the sun and moon, Captain Nicholls’s experience, the stars, a compass, a barometer, a sextant, maps and their own skills and courage to guide them and arrived in Hobson’s bay, Melbourne on the 14th March 1855, one of the tiniest craft to ever make the trip. Some of these navigational aids can be seen with the model at the Seaman’s Mission Newlyn.

What Happened to the Crew?
Of the seven named men that sailed to Australia five returned to their native Cornwall, Job Kelynack returned to fishing at Newlyn and died in Cardiff, Richard Badcock likewise returned to fishing at Newlyn after working first as warder boatman in Melbourne Harbour and died in 1874,his brother William died in 1906 aged 85 years. Captain Nicholls was also one of the men that returned only to die on dry land after being knocked down by a London horse drawn Cab Driver.

Of the two that remained in Australia, Philip Curnow Mathews died in November 1896 and was buried in the cemetery at Victoria, Lewis Lewis worked as a Sheppard and died in 1886 and was buried at Campbell’s Creek, Victoria, Australia.

Loss of the Mystery
The Mystery was sold in Melbourne for £150 and re-named “De Novo” then used as a Pilot cutter; she was wrecked on Halftide Rock in Keppel Bay on Friday 19th March 1869 while under charge of Coxswain Neil. It was approx 11 o’clock on Friday night that she was getting underway to start for Rockhampton when the strong wind drove her onto the north east point of the reef but the crew and men from the pilot station were unable to save her, the hull broke into pieces and these parts of the wreck drifted seaward.

The Idea
After reading the story of the Mystery, Pete has been inspired to build and sail a similar vessel to Australia under identical conditions in September 07, He has also always wanted to build a wooden boat and the idea of “The Spirit of Mystery” was born. His determination and immense courage have moved people to help him in this huge challenge in building and sailing this wonderful craft. There are no modern electronics or navigation aids and only a solar panel to provide power so he can update his website. Another big part in this project is Pete’s endless support as trustee for the charity “”Cornwall Playing for Success” which raises children’s IT skills, literacy and numeracy. I have personally watched many of these children visit the boat yard were the practical skills in building such a vessel have been explained to them.

The Spirit of Mystery is similarly built so like wise will be an extremely good sea boat, she is also being crewed by a blood related or Marriage related crew, Pete Goss being the captain. They hope to set sail to Australia in late October 08. His crew will be his youngest son Eliot who is 14 years of age, youngest brother Andy whom the trip will be returning to his birth place in Swan Hill Australia, and brother-in-law Mark Maidment a police officer in the western sector of Plymouth, two of which have had very little sailing experience.

Details of the Spirit of Mystery.
A 37 foot Mounts Bay Lugger
11ft 6 inch beam
Weight 16 tons
Designer – Chris Rees
Shipwrights – Andy Grieve and Jon Albrecht
Sailmaker – Patrick Selman
Two masts with dipping sails on each.
Running retractable bowsprit
Carvel Built Hull
Round stern

Built at Mill Quay Boat Yard in Millbrook, Cornwall.

What timber did they use?

Oak – matured fallen Cornish oak which has a density of 695kg/m3 made the frames this is particularly good because of its bends and selective pieces allow the grain to follow the shape of frame making it extremely strong. It was also used for the coach room beams.

Ash – Is a good general purpose joinery timber with a density of 650 – 700 kg/m3 and was used on the tiller and sweeps

ELM - this was used in many of the original luggers and was often imported from the states, a greyish/brown coloured wood with a density of 550kg/m3, used extensively in boat building, furniture and general woodwork

EKKI - which is a very strong, tough, stable, parasite resistant African hardwood, was used for the Keel, Stem, Stern Posts, rudder and mast seatings. It is amazingly dense and heavy weighing between 60 – 70 lbs per cubic foot, and does not float.

Larch - was used for the planking, it has a density of 750kg/m3 and is used for cladding and general joinery

Cherry – Used for finishing off the furniture in the accommodation space.

How do they build a boat using Carvel Planking Construction?

Here the keel, stem and stem post were sawn from large pieces of timber, to the required shape and bolted together, Carvel built boats are always built the right way up, so to define the shape of the hull a ribcage is added to the backbone/keel This is in the form of moulds, which can be thought of as temporary bulkheads spaced ever few feet over the length of the boat.

Longitudinal stringers or ribbands are then fastened over the moulds to form a rigid frame work on which to build your boat. Frames can then be installed. Either inside or outside these stringers but on the Spirit of Mystery they were fitted inside. The floor is then assembled to connect the frames to the keel. Planking is applied over the frames, starting from the top and bottom and finishing in the middle. Planking is glued and screwed to each of the frames, along the Keel and to the stern and stem posts but not to each other. When completed the gaps between the planks are caulked to give a watertight and rigid structure when the boat is launched by forcing each plank against its neighbour compressing the caulking as the wood swells.

Sequent of events in sequential order during the manufacture of the Spirit of Mystery

1.Plannings Stage, this is where key date schedules are planned, i.e. keel laid, planks fitted, engine to be installed, removed from shed, launch, the details of the boats requirements, materials required, staffing, trades, sponsorship, costing, venue, equipment, plant etc.

2. Drawing the Plans to contain, planned items, information required on method of construction, materials, Length, width, depth, sail area, shapes etc.

3. Selecting the timber, what timber do I require, what is available and where, at what costs.

4. Remove timber from woods, cutting, transportation, and craneage.

5. Lofting out, this was done in St John’s village hall. It is the process of drawing lines for the full size boat from the dimensional drawings; plot it out on the lofting floor and drawing full size the components onto the construction material

6. Cutting out the timber to sizes, using a saw mill, band saw, circ saw, portable tools, planers, routers etc.

7. Making the moulds by tracing them from the loft floor.

8. Lay the keel on the site.

 9. Manufacture the stem and stern posts and bolt to keel.

10. Attach the moulds to the backbone /keel

11. Erect the shed over the keel and moulds.

12. Ribbands wrapped around moulds and the oak frames manufactured and fitted.

13. Garboards are cut and ready to fit.

14. Garboards are fitted and planking process starts from the sheer down.

15. Planking continues on alternative sides to avoid distortion from the bottom up and the top down.

16. Steel Keel plate is jacked into position and secured to keel, stem and stern post

17. Floor beams are fitted and bolted to the keel.

18. Engine frame manufactured and placed into position

19. Engine installed, this had to be done next due to accessibility.

20. Propeller shaft alignment established, and stern tube installed.

21. Larch beam shelf clamped into position.

22. Carlins are bent to shape prior to securing.

23. Hanging knees manufactured and fitted to secure side decks.

24. Table manufactured and installed.

25. Deck framing completed.

26. Mast steps/seatings fitted.

27. Bulwarks and Bulkheads fitted.

27. Hull planks faired and primed.

28. Capping rails fitted.

29. Oak planks manufactured and fitted into place to form cockpit coaming.

30. Toilet, bilge pump, Gas stove and sink unit installed and plumbed in.

31. Rudder manufactured and fitted.

32. Tiller sawn out and shaped.

33. Decks fitted after painting underside.

34. Main and Mizzen Masts, Spars, Bow sprit and out rigger manufactured.

35. Decking planks screwed down, plugs to cover screw holes bonded into place.

36. Decking caulked/sealed completed and planed and sanded.

37. Wood decking oiled with Danish Oil.

38. Planking securing screw holes plugs were made, holes plugged and faired, all 1,600 of them.

39. Planking sealed with 3m 4200 sealant where they attach to the frames inside the hull.

40. Caulking cotton hammered into planking seams.

41. Planking seams filled with red lead and putty and faired.

42. Painting.

43. Metal work that had been progressed/ manufactured over the previous months, was galvanised and fitted.

44. Items that were to be covered with leather were completed.

45. Propeller fitted.

46. Support legs were made and fitted.

47. Rollers fitted under the keel to assist in getting the boat out of the shed.

Definition: - A Bulwark is the sea wall around the decking of the boat.
                     A Bulkhead is a water tight retaining wall.
                     A Garboard on a boat is the board that attaches to the keel running fore and aft.
                     A Carlin is the underside of a beam

Lead Ballast – what is it for and how was it made?
Ballast is used to provide moment to resist the lateral forces of the sails. Insufficient ballast and the boat will tip or heel excessively in high winds. It is fitted as near to the keel as possible to give maximum effect and spaced so has to keep the boat in trim. The name Spirit of Mystery was moulded into the lead ballast blocks during manufacture.

How was it made
1. Square tank with gas burners under it was manufactured as a tank to melt the lead down.
2. Moulds were made of thermo blocks, stuck together with silicone, clamped and back filled with sand.
3. Scrap lead melted down
4. Melted lead poured into the moulds
5. Lead shrinks back from mould when it cools so can be removed from mould.
6. The lead ballast blocks were secured into the hull.

Donations of lead: - were received from many people i.e.
Dave Edwards Orthopaedic Surgeon, He sent some in the post.
Russ and Liz Harris 100lbs from their old roof.
Doug Taylor from his roof repairs.
Bill Waldron from the bilge keels of his boat.
Pete Childs Grandson Harry from his fathers diving belt.
1.6 ton of lead was also purchased from Joe Scott who was converting his trawler.

Safety/tender dinghy -Tacker.
This is the 10 foot clinker build work/safety dinghy with lug sail that is located on the deck. It was designed and manufactured by Graham Butler from off cuts of wood from the Spirit of Mystery. It was built in the conventional way a full description of how a boat of this type is build can be found on the Rame Heritage website.

Dragged/pulled/lifted out of shed 6th June 08.
1. Spirit of Mystery was pulled out of the shed after being placed on steel rollers with the use of a turfer block, wire rope and a crane.
2. Masts fitted and wedged into place.
3. Rigging completed
4. Sails manufactured by Patrick Selman in Falmouth were fitted
5. Some ballast installed and secured into position.
6. Oil lights fitted.
7. Coke fire/wood burner and chimney flue fitted.
8. Accommodation fitted out complete
9. Living accommodation upholstery manufactured and fitted
10. Final cosmetic painting and anti-fouling coatings applied.

The Tiller
This is made from a piece of naturally grown ash, which is 9 foot long, this came from the Cotswold Canal area in Shroud were a large ash tree had to be felled for safety reasons, the kink in the trunk offered the perfect shape and grain. It was cut to size and transported to Cornwall by Truck. A tiller arm template was first made and tried in place on the boat and was used to select the best grain for the bends on the wood that the tiller was to be cut from.
Once marked on the donor wood it was rough cut to shape with a chain saw and shaped by hand tools to the finished article and strengthened by metal bracing pieces.

The rudder
A very important part of the boat, without it you cannot steer or bring the boat into the wind, it was manufactured from the hardwood ekki so that is very strong, it is hung on the stern by three steel hinges and the rudder blade is steel braced. The stock is laminated from three pieces of wood and the tiller is attached to the top of it

The Chart Table.
This was made from pieces of wood donated from the restoration of H.M.S.Victory.

The Dinning Table
It was made and donated by a fellow Cornishman, Martin Grundy a good friend of Pete’s.
at the London Business School.

The sails
They were made by Patrick Selman of Falmouth Cornwall who is known for the quality and cut of his sails, which are hand made in a very original fashion. He specialises in making sails for Cornish Luggers.

The Main and Mizzen Masts
Timber for the main and mizzen masts was from four telegraph poles that were donated to Pete. A groove had to be cut down the length of the main mast to accommodate wiring for the Navigation light, VHF radio etc after the wiring was installed the gap was filled by a strip of timber that was glued into place and faired.  Mark and Stewart of Torpoint Plumbing and Electrical Services wired up and installed the lamp. Prior to this the masts had to be cut to size and shape to suit the hull and seating. They were secured into position with wooden wedges between the deck and the mast. The rigging fittings also had to be fitted.

The Spars
The spars, outrigger, and bowsprit were manufactured from timber donated by Bill Gilbert from the woods at Polbathic. They were faired and oiled with Danish oil and a star was fitted to the end of the bow sprit.

Carving the Name and sponsor boards
Chris first made a template cutting out the name, flag, stars etc and traced it onto the planking, with a router he engraved the boards and finished them off by hand with the appropriate shaped wood chisel.
The Cornish flag was at the rear of the vessel and the Australian stars to the bow; this showed she was sailing from England to Australia.

Painting the name and sponsor boards.
Marsha did a wonderful job painting in the name, flags and sponsors after Chris had completed the carving.

Is a process used in wooden ships/boats to seal the seams to make them watertight, the same term also refers to the application of flexible sealing compounds to close up crevices? On wooden vessels caulking uses fibers of cotton, and oakum (oak fiber soaked in pine tar). These fibers are driven into the wedge shaped seams between the planks with a caulking mallet and a broad chisel like tool called a caulking iron. The caulking is then covered over with a mixture of red lead putty in the case of the hull seams. Or in the case of deck seams with melted pine pitch in a process referred to as paying. Modern marine sealants are now frequently used in place of the pitch.

Blakes Paint and Danish oil was used extensively throughout the painting of the vessels hull much of it applied by Marsha although others did help. Below the water line she was coated with five coats of anti-fouling

The decking, spars, bowsprit, outrigger and various other parts were coated with Danish oil.

Gas bottle cover
This was made from an old Talisker whisky barrel/keg and fitted in the stern of the boat to cover the gas bottles.

 Oil lights are used as per the mystery.

We have a small wood burning/ coke burning stove fitted to the forehead bulkhead, the flue of which is made from a pipe of an old German E boat steam pipe.

The engine
A small Yanmar marine diesel engine is fitted for various legal and practical reasons, but it is not planned to be used for any part of the voyage and will be sealed on departure from Newlyn.

Sponsor boards
The names carved on the sponsor boards are -  Gore-Tex, Pindar, Musto, Talisker and Blazepoint.

The launch 21st June 08.
Spirit of Mystery was gently lowered into the water/ launched at 7.00pm on the Saturday June the 21st, it was a very memorable event, the first time that the full crew was afloat together and a great evening for spectators and their families, with a bouncy castle, Children’s Games, A Barbecue, Face Painting, Design a badge competition, Rock Climbing, Canadian Canoes, A band- “Plymouth Sounds Black Thunder”, Children’s Entertainer, Ice Cream,, Buglers and Drummers from the Royal Marines, A charity Draw, Merchandise Marquee, Live Music and free parking.

The Maiden Voyage 25th June 08
The first maiden voyage was when she left the quay wall at Millbrook at 0940 hrs on Wednesday the 25th June 08 but after only travelling a few hundred yards she went aground in the mud flats outside the Round House at Lower Anderton. No amount of power from her own propeller would move her so a rope was attached from the boats bow to Daren Newton’s truck in Lower Anderton Road and with very little effort she was pulled into deeper water and underway again under her own power. When she past Southdown two of the sails was erected and she sailed up the Tamar past Torpoint Ferry towards Saltash Bridge. Turning in the widest part of the river the third sail was erected and she sailed back past Cremyll, Drakes Island and into the sound for sea trials.

The next Events
The next event will be Spirit of Mystery’s official naming ceremony at Cotehele on 9/10 August (date to be confirmed) followed by an appearance at Newlyn Fish Festival on August the 25th. The Southampton Boat show on 12th September and on the 16 – 19th October the Falmouth Oyster Festival.

Pete in yachting adventures is the author of the  best selling book “Close to the Wind” in which he shares his experiences, adventures, thoughts and hardships and no doubt he will be writing about his experiences of this great adventure and hopes to complete a world voyage in her by sailing her back from Australia.

I wish them all good luck and the most successful and safest of adventures.

Colyn Thomas
27 June 2008

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