Introduction: When I was in my late 20’s, I sailed a Harpoon 4.6. My children were young and I would use the Harpoon for day sailing and camp cruising on SC’s barrier islands. As my children grew older and my responsiblities increased, I sold the boat and settled in to life as a father of 3. My children are now in their mid-30’s and in 2010 I began looking, once again, into buying a used boat. While perusing want ads in local newspapers, magazines and on the internet, I was unable to find the perfect boat for me. I had a subscription to Small Craft Advisor Magazine and when, one day an issue showed up at my door with a plan review for John Welsford’s new Pilgrim, I fell in love with the boat!
I had never built a boat before but I did have experience with woodworking and woodworking tools so I ordered the study plans. Welsford’s methods for boat building impressed me. It seemed do-able. His committment to help and also, a support group on the internet, convinced me to give it a try. With lots of patience and understanding from my wife, Trice, and a year and a half of almost daily work, I ended up with the Pilgrim "Trice".
The Pilgrim "Trice" is 16′-6" long and has a beam of 7′. She draws 19" with the center board up and almost 4′ with it down. She has 450 lbs of lead bolted to the keel and a 100 lb galvanized steel centerboard. She weighs around 1200 lbs (guessing). She is a gaff-rigged cutter with 165 square feet of sail area.
I built the boat using 3/8" Meranti, marine grade plywood. The stringers are from clear, straight grain, Southern Yellow Pine. The keel, bowsprit, tiller, mast step, and most of the trim are White Oak. The mast and boom is solid and made from clear, straight grain, Douglas Fir. Her hull is sheathed in 6 oz fiberglass cloth.
I love the way she sails. It is like sailing a larger yacht. She will stand up in a blow but I usually tie in the first reef at around 18 to 20 mph winds. She tacks easily, but slowly due to her full length keel. She is easy on the tiller and easily balanced. I use a home built tiller-tamer which keeps her on track while I tend to other things when single handed. She is much faster than most people would think and sails well to windward for a gaff rigged boat. She is best sailed free, not pinched, when sailing to windward. A joy to sail.
In planning this trip, my first by myself, I wanted to keep it simple. I decided to launch from Remley’s Point boat landing in Mt. Pleasant, SC. It is located where the Wando River meets Charleston Harbor. I would then sail up the Cooper River, through the historic Rice fields and get a lift into Lake Moultrie from the Pinopolis Dam Lock. I would sail the 11 miles across Lake Moultrie, through the Diversiion Canal and into Lake Marion. Lake Marion is SC’s largest lake. I would then sail across the lake to Mill Creek Landing where I would pick up my 82 year old uncle, Foster Boone, for a daysail. After leaving Foster back at the landing, I will then return home. That is the plan.
Cctober 10, 2012. Launched at Remley’s Point in Charleston Harbor at 10:15 am, and headed up the Cooper River to meet my 82 year old, uncle, Foster Boone, at Mill Creek Landing. This trip had two purposes: I wanted to take an extended trip in my John Welsford, Pilgrim and I also wanted to sail, once again, with my uncle who lives near Lake Marion in Santee, SC.
The wind was from the North, just the direction that I was heading in, so I decided to motor. I was heading into the last of an outgoing tide, at about 3.8 knots. I crossed under the I-526 bridge at 11:45 and was finally able to raise the sails at 12:00 making 3.5 to 4.9 knots under light winds and with the turning tide. Winds were light and shifting… back to motor sailing 30 minutes later. Later, again, with the sails up. Frustrating!