There are many of us who have in the past, and still today, dream of owning an original Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter. The history of these wonderful boats, the people who sailed them and the stories that are now told about them are all fascinating and awe inspiring, giving us a glimpse of a different world. There are so many interesting stories entwined with the pilot cutters such as the development of design to cope with the rigours of the job, and the subtle differences between boats built in different areas, for example the West Country built Cornubia compared to the first Lancashire built boat, Alpha.
Not only did these boats do a superb job working in often very harsh conditions, but many of them went on to write their own individual stories after retiring from pilot duty. The most famous of these are arguably the boats used by Tillman to carry him across the oceans in search of greater mountaineering challenges, but there are so many other untold stories of voyages and adventures carried out by these old boats and their owners, a testament to the superb evolution of design that brought about a breed of fantastic sea boats, in the right hands capable of taking their crews anywhere in the world.
Many of us unfortunately have to continue to dream about ownership of a pilot cutter because let’s face it, they are not at the cheap end of the market. And rightly so, these are incredible boats and there are only a handful of them left, fortunately though the numbers are increasing because there are some people out there willing to take the plunge and rebuild the more run down boats and get them back sailing. However, the possibility of owning a BCPC has just opened itself up to a lot more people. We have been advertising Carlotta now for a little while, and although we have had a lot of interest, nobody has come along with enough imagination, desire and money to take over ownership and get her home.
She is currently on the west coast of Canada after sailing out there in the 1970’s. This is again a fascinating story and largely untold, although the tales of Carlotta’s voyages have now been quite well documented. Unfortunately the west coast is the wrong side of the continent as far as we here in the Uk are concerned, and the logistics of getting the boat back to UK have proved too tiresome for most buyers. There is however now a rather good incentive as the price of the boat has been reduced to a very low figure of £145,000. Bear in mind this is a rebuilt cutter from 1899, an absolute beauty of a boat, very fast and with a well documented history. Yes, she needs a suit of sails and she is on the wrong side of Canada but so what, this is a half price Pilot Cutter which ever you look at it.
The point is that this is not setting a precedent for the value of original Pilot Cutters. The true value of the boat is a lot higher and if circumstances allowed she would be advertised and sold at a lot higher price, however the two factors that are affecting this sale, and affect all sales, are location and the owners willingness to sell. It is a great shame that after doing so much good work to the boat and putting so much into her, the owners find themselves in the position where they need to move her on, and because nobody here in the UK has been able to step up to the mark and buy her, they will be opening her up to the north American market. Because the history and significance of Carlotta is not fully understood or appreciated over there, the asking price has to be significantly lower than it would be in UK, hence the reason for bringing it down to this low level.
To my mind it would be a real shame if somebody did not take this opportunity to bring Carlotta home. It would be a fantastic adventure to sail her home, exploring the wilderness of western Canada and North America, then down to the Panama Canal, a season in the Caribbean and then home, or alternatively she could simply be loaded on to a ship as deck cargo and shipped back to Southampton. The logistics are not too difficult and not prohibitively expensive so this should not be a barrier to someone thinking of buying her, and the other potential issue of VAT import duty could possibly be argued away because of her historic significance.
Hopefully somebody will come forward in the near future who has the necessary attributes to take on a boat like Carlotta and we can all then look forward to seeing another boat in the fleet racing at the Pilot Cutter Review in Cornwall and quite likely giving Mascotte a run for her money!
Click the following link to view Carlotta https://woodenships.co.uk/sailing-yachts/bristol-channel-pilot-cutter-2/