How Grayhound was built
In 2010, Freya and Marcus Pomeroy-Rowden decided to build an English three-masted lugger to sail clients and carry cargo. This was the first time a three-masted lugger had been built in 200 years.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries three-masted luggers were designed by the British Revenue and Customs Office to chase smugglers. The smugglers copied the design and there were many chases and battles. All three-masted luggers were banned by the British government in the early 1800s to try to stop the busy smuggling trade.
In 2010 Chris Rees, a well-respected boat-builder, showed Freya and Marcus the original plans for the 1776 Revenue Lugger Grayhound. He agreed to design a replica and lead the build.
Fairlie Restorations took Chris Rees’ designs and produced structural assessments, stability information and framing patterns.
In December 2010 Marcus started to fell oak trees from his mum’s fields in Cornwall. In April 2011 the wood were delivered to Chris for cutting into shapes. By August the shapes were in piles, like a massive jigsaw puzzle, ready for construction to begin.
Six full-time shipwrights worked on Grayhound at Voyager Boatyard in Millbrook, Cornwall, including Marcus and an apprentice from the village. The keel and frames took shape quickly. At the ‘keel-laying’ party a large community of supporters celebrated Grayhound’s birth.
Fixing the planks started in September 2011, ending in February 2012. All planks were fastened with wooden pegs known as treenails, ‘trenails’ or ‘trunnels’. For generations, shipwrights used treenails to bind a boat together. This method is long out of fashion but has huge advantages. The life-expectancy of treenails is about 80-100 years compared to metal fastenings (c. 25 years).
The work continued throughout the summer of 2012: installing masts, rigging, two live cannon and much more.
On 4th August 2012 Grayhound launched from Voyager Boatyard in front of a huge crowd of well-wishers.
Grayhound’s sponsorship scheme involved over 4000 people. Their names and messages are written on treenails throughout the ship. She is full of good wishes and friendship. You feel this when you step on board.
The shipwrights who built Grayhound are Richard Burke, Sam Carne, Russell Ferriday, Marcus O’Dee, Peter Steele, Matthew Stevens, Demetri Wetzel and Marcus Pomeroy-Rowden.
We salute the community and craftsmen that brought Grayhound to life. She is more than the ship itself; she is a celebration, a life-force, and a call for a sustainable world. It is an honour to look after her.
The original Grayhound
The original Grayhound was most probably built in Cawsand, near Plymouth, East Cornwall in 1776. She was a Revenue and Customs Lugger. These ships were designed by the British Revenue and Customs Office to patrol the British coast and capture smugglers. Grayhound was almost certainly commissioned by Mr John Knill, the Collector of Customs at the port of St Ives in West Cornwall.
Luggers were fast sailing-ships with ‘lug’ sails. Three-masted luggers were the fastest. Revenue and Customs Luggers were famously fast! Grayhound carried 8 cannon, and her crew members carried weapons. Today Her Majesty’s Revenue Cutters are high-speed patrol boats doing the same job.
Cornwall was full of smuggling at this time. In fact Cawsand, where Grayhound was built, was known for trafficking goods from France and the Channel Islands. There is a suggestion that she may have done some smuggling herself!
After working as a Revenue Lugger Grayhound had a second life as a ‘privateer’. A privateer was a privately owned, armed vessel that could attack enemy ships on behalf of the British government. Huge numbers of British Navy warships were sent to the American War of Independence (1775-83). The British government was forced to grant licences to privateers to defend British waters.
The final fate of the first Grayhound is not known… We have no doubt that she fought valiantly to the end!