A rare Cornish fishing boat dating back to the 1920s has been snatched from the jaws of wood-munching shrimp!
Dos Amigos, believed to be St Ives sole surviving Carvel Gig, was craned out of immediate danger on Monday January 22nd, and transported to the safe haven of Treeve Boatyard in Hayle.
The 38ft craft was the pride and joy of two Spanish fishermen who came to Cornwall at the time of the Spanish Civil War.
They named her ‘Dos Amigos’ as a marker of their friendship and fished her up and down the Cornish coast for most of her working life.
In recent years though, Dos Amigos story has been less bracing.
The classic boat’s been tied to the wall of Looe Harbour, where local boatowners face a waiting list of up to 12 years, for more than a decade, gradually falling victim to the seas.
This week salvors who stepped in to stop the classic craft being impounded took advantage of the first available weather window to organise the complex task of taking her off the towns hands.
Local boatbuilder Robb Lello, who’s storing the boat at his Treeve Boatyard, explained: “Dos Amigos has been neglected for ten 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.
“She had to come out of the water because eventually she got gribble: this is a kind of tiny prawn that gets into unprotected wood. 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.”
Robb 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, the boat has been moored against Looe Harbour Wall.
Marine 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.”
Pictures show Deu Kerens, painted blue in early 1980s, later pitch black, also in 1980s, believed afloat off South East Cornish coast, both pix while under ownership Mike and Sue Darlington, and third pic showing her ashore at Looe in her present deadly condition on Monday January 22 2013