The Grayhound Lugger and how it all began……..

As jobbing sailors in 2010 we had a idea, to build and run our own traditional sailing vessel, have a family and sail to the Caribbean. It is now 2017 and we have done all the above. We are soon to bring you news of our new programme in 2018 and hope to sail with you next. Our vessel is a replica 18th Century three masted Customs Lugger. She is wooden, built using traditional materials and methods. We built her ourselves, we sail her ourselves and she is our family home.

Our Story

Marcus and Freya met in 2004 in Dartmouth when they were working with the Trinity Sailing Trust. Years later they were both sailing back from the West Indies and hooked up in a bar in the Azores. It was here that they fell in love and dreamed of sailing a large vessel which could work commercially, taking paying passengers with them while they continued to sail the globe. Both having worked in the industry for many years, as skipper, mate and cook felt they had the ability and passion to put their stamp on their own traditional sailing business. When returning to the UK in the summer of 2010 they decided to do it.Lugger man, Paul Greenwood of Looe had suggested that Marcus should build the Grayhound many years before when he was building his 32 ft dipping lugger Veracity. 

But which type of vessel to choose? To restore or build new? These were the questions. Answers came when they were sailing back from Brittany that summer and passed La Cancalaise sailing by with all her sails up. It was a windless afternoon and a saxophone was playing on deck, the music drifting across the channel. At that moment they were struck with inspiration to find and build an English version of a three masted lugger and get sailing. Something that has not been done in the UK for over 200 years. On their return from France, they dropped anchor in Cawsand Bay, friends Chris and Marsha Rees rowed out to greet them. Chris a well respected boat builder in the South West, who works out of Millbrook was instantly interested in their plan. In 2008 Chris built the Spirit of Mystery for Pete Goss , who then sailed her to the Southern Ocean. Like history repeating it self but this time by Chris not Paul, the Grayhound plans were brought to the table and toasted with Caribbean Rum and a good meal that night in Cawsand.

From that day on Freya and Marcus started work in earnest. Chris agreed to take on the design and head the build. Late December 2010 saw Marcus start to fell oak trees from his mum’s fields. Fairlie Restorations fed Chris’ plans into the computer to give us our structural assessments, stability information and framing patterns. April 2011 saw tonnes of wood delivered and processed in Chris Rees’ yard in Millbrook. The lovely sunny days aided the framing and treenail drying. By August the boat was in piles, like a massive jigsaw ready to be constructed in Voyager’s Shed 1. With new baby boy Malachi now on the scene the team was complete.

Six full time shipwrights gathered including Marcus and an apprentice from the village. Freya and Malachi ran the office and launched the business Grayhound Lugger Sailing. A venture that they hoped would provide a good life for them as a family, while treading as lightly as possible on the earth’s resources and still earn them a living.The Grayhound quickly took shape, she had a keel laying party where a lot of people came to celebrate her conception and toast our newly laid keel and frames. Planking started in September 2011 and ended in February 2012. There was no steam involved in the planking.We fastened the planking with treenails, also known as a trenails or trunnels, they are wooden pegs that were traditionally used to fasten timbers in shipbuilding.

For generations shipbuilding used treenails as a standard way to bind the boat together, now it seems a method that is long out of fashion but in using them they have huge advantages. They do not give rise to “nail-sickness” which is a term for decay accelerated and concentrated around metal fastenings. The life expectancy for treenail fastenings is about 80 – 100 years if the vessel is cared for, as opposed to metal fastenings lasting 25 years. Having plenty of oak to work with we wanted to replicate this age old process in such a traditional vessel, and keep the skill alive. Our Sponsorship scheme involved over 4000 people, their names and messages written on Treenails inside the Grayhound.

Watch the building of the Grayhound

The Launch day August 4th 2012