Dos Amigos - a unique piece of Cornish maritime history

A

unique piece of Cornish Maritime History has been saved from a watery grave this week.

Dos

Amigos, believed to be St Ives sole surviving Carvel Gig, was craned out of

Looe Harbour on Monday, and transported to the safe haven of

Treeve Boatyard in Hayle.

The

38ft craft is one of renowned St Ives boatbuilder Thomas Paynters’ original

creations. But after 92 years as first a well-maintained working fishing boat,

then a converted gaff-ketch in Looe, she’s fallen into ‘severe disrepair’.

Local

boatbuilder Robb Lello, who’s storing the boat at his Treeve Boatyard,

said: ‘Dos Amigos has been neglected for 10 years.

‘Very

sadly her last owner wasn’t able to maintain the boat and over time, most of

her keel was eaten away, so that today, she is far from seaworthy.

‘She went

from being an asset to Looe to a blight on the harbour.’

Dos Amigos had to come out of the water because eventually she got gribble – a kind

of tiny prawn that gets into unprotected wood.

Mr Lello said: ‘It’s about the size of a

woodlouse, has three mouths, seven legs, and dines out mainly on classic boats.

‘This

meant as more time went by Dos Amigos gribble-infestation got worse, and fewer

people were likely to take her on. In fact she was on the verge of being

quietly impounded by Looe harbour.

‘Luckily

the vital first step of getting her out on to dry standing is now taken: she’s

out and we have bought some time.’

He added: ‘There’s still a tremendous way to go, and it’s going to be down to

the inventiveness and determination of everyone involved, and we hope the

support of the local community, whether Dos Amigos sets sail again.’

Dos

Amigos’ builder Thomas Paynter was the man behind the recently relaunched St

Ives Jumbo class.

The

historic boat has a colourful history and is thought to be the unique survivor

of a class of purpose built St Ives boats known as ‘Gigs’.

These

were open boats which fished under auxiliary motor and a fore and aft lugsail.

Dos

Amigos was built at the Paynter yard in 1920 for a local family and initially

named Our Francis.

But

she spent her working life manned by two Spaniards, who’d settled in Newlyn

around the time of the Spanish Civil War, and gave their boat her distinctive

name – the Spanish for Two Friends – when they took her over in around 1935.

For

most of the 20th Century she fished out of Cornish ports in a variety of trades

– drift fishing for pilchards, potting, hand-line mackereling and dredging for

scallops.

In

1985 Mike and Sue Darlington of Looe restored Dos Amigos, and her name was

translated into the Cornish ‘Deu Kerens’. During the 1990s she day-tripped and

chartered for weekends and trips, sailing to classic boat festivals in Brittany

such as Brest and Dournanez.

She

was then sold on, and since 2002, his boat has been moored against Looe Harbour

Wall.

Boat

restoration expert John Lambourn, from Mousehole, who rebuilt and now owns and

sails St Ives lugger Ripple, said: ‘Gigs were open, day boats which were

very versatile in that they could carry large amounts of fishing gear.

‘Although

mechanised they had not abandoned their masts and sails, which indicates the

background and caution of their owners.’

He

added: ‘The gig fishing boats of St Ives are a special class of boat and

well worth preserving and restoring for that reason alone.’

Watch the video by clicking here.

If

you’d like to get in touch with Dos Amigos and lend your skills or just your

time and musclepower, you can find her here on Facebook or email deukerens@inbox.com.