There were a small number of boat builders lining the shores of Cawsand Bay in East Cornwall during the 18th and 19th century and John F Parkin was one of them. He had a reputation for building fast coastal craft. Parkin began boat building at Cawsand, but by 1779 he had taken over Frank’s quarry at Cremyll, known nowadays as Mashfords.

During his work life he built revenue, privateer and smuggling vessels, Grayhound was one of them and we believe she was built in Cawsand as a Revenue Lugger in 1776. 

We do not know exactly where she was built in Cawsand, but it could have been on the Bound in Mr Jobe’s boat yard , in the entrance to the bound or in the square. Once built she would have been pulled down the slipway into the sea during a high tide by horses.

John Parkin would have been 43 years old when he built the Grayhound, in his prime some may say as he worked on till he was 78 years old and died three years later in 1815. He was buried in Maker Church yard, which is two miles away from Millbrook, where we are building. Some days we like to think he is up on the hill looking down at us working.
After the Grayhound was built in 1776 we believe she worked as a revenue lugger and was built for the collector of customs of St Ives( See writing on the original lines plan below) . As a revenue lugger her work would have involved patrolling and chasing smugglers and on catching them they would have impounded their vessel and it’s goods, which then would have been sold at auction. Speed was therefore crucial in order to catch them. Of course the revenue luggers were built by the same builders who built the smuggling luggers ! Cornwall was rife with smuggling at this time, Cawsand and Kingsand became an important first land fall where the smuggled goods were then transported over to Plymouth. Ports within close distance of the Channel Islands were also busy with smuggling activity. There came a time when the three masted luggers were banned by the government from being built to try a put a halt to the smuggling trade. We believe the reason for this was one of speed , because they were so fast, they were too hard to catch. We hope the law no longer exists !

A three masted Lugger

A three masted lugger

Cawsand beach

We believe Grayhound was built on the bound, in Cawsand.

Back to the Grayhound…..Mr John Knill became a collector of customs at St Ives from 1762 – 1782, he owned and managed many vessels like the Grayhound. John Knill was a Callington man born in 1733 and served as a clerkship lawyer in Penzance and was the mayor of St Ives in 1767. There is a monument which was commissioned by John Knill still standing today in St Ives.

Evidence suggests that Grayhound’s  terms of duty as a revenue lugger , like other ships at that time were short lived.

As conflict arose due to the declaration of Independence by the North American Colonists in 1776, privateering in the channel and beyond became common place.

A privateer vessel was a privately owned armed vessel granted a warrant by the government to wage war on enemy ships. As a Privateer the ship would carry a letter of Marque issued by the government. During Grayhound’s privateering days we believe that 30 men were needed to work the vessel, another 30 men were onboard to act as return crew for any captured vessels. Grayhound carried eight cannons and she will again ….

Some of our 8 firing canons for Grayhound 2012 photo by Debbie Purser

Some 200 years later a replica of the Grayhound is being built by Marcus Rowden and Freya Hart but two miles from her original build site in Cawsand. The original was some what larger than the new Grayhound . The new Grayhound is a 5/6th scale replica of the original but she will still carry her eight cannons ! She is being built at Voyager Yachts Ltd in the village of Millbrook in East Cornwall, UK . She was launched on the 4th of August 2012.968957_10151770597007525_1977332456_n

“Watching the launch of Grayhound felt like being part of a film…yet this was real and that was what made her launch one of the most memorable experiences ever. We were so pleased to make a detour on our trip down to North Cornwall to see you guys make your dream come true. Inspiring, uplifting and without a doubt…one day we just HAVE to take a journey on Grayhound now. Thrilled to have shown our little boys such an amazing sight”  Anita Ribbons
Grayhound lines plan

A copy of the original plans of the Grayhound.

Her lines have a delightful elegance and yet she is still a sturdy work boat designed to be fast. The perfect boat of choice for Marcus and Freya who are traditional sailors who love ocean sailing and racing.

Build (stern)

Grayhound 2012 half way through planking.

Build (hull)

Grayhound 2012 was built in Millbrook, Cornwall


Grayhound 2012

  • Three masted lug rig sailing vessel
  • length on deck will be 63’6”
  • length overall 108 ‘
  • Beam 19’5”
  • Draught 10’9”
  • Tons Displacement 49.47
  • SQ feet canvas 3500
  • Crew 5
  • Engine Beta 90 HP


Grayhound stability model

Grayhound stability model

 Her construction is as follows:

  • Devon and Cornwall Oak for the frames
  • Forest of Dean Larch planking
  • Green heart keel, rudder , floors and deadwoods.
  • Solid 10 tonne lead keel
  • Opepee stem, deck, hatches and deck rooms.
  • Devon Douglas Fir for the masts, spars, bulwarks and interior.
  • Fastenings are a combination of treenails and bronze screws.
Chris Rees Lines Plan

Lines plan by Chris Rees



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