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Tuesday 1 March 2011
Bristol Channel Cutter, Baggy Wrinkle
The early pilots of the Bristol Channel earned their living by seeking merchant vessels approaching land and using their detailed knowledge of local navigation, pilot them safely into port.
The Pilot Cutters would race westwards to meet the incoming ships. The pickings were rich if you could get them, which meant being the first out to the incoming ship, racing and outwitting other pilots. The results were unparalleled seamanship and the evolution of very fast, able boats.
The cutters were usually crewed by a skipper, a "boy" and the pilot on the outward journey. Once alongside the incoming ship the boy would row the pilot to the merchant vessel, where the pilot would scramble aboard.
Baggy Wrinkle is a British Channel Pilot Cutter built in 1982 at the Northwest School of Boat Building. Her home waters are the western US and though far from her ancestors, she is very well suited for the ravages of the eastern Pacific Ocean.