VIDEO: Historic St Ives boat saved from a watery grave
A unique piece of west Cornish history has been saved from a watery grave by a mystery maritime enthusiast.
Dos Amigos, believed to be the only surviving St Ives Carvel gig, was discovered rotting in Looe harbour.
The 38ft craft was built in 1920 by renowned St Ives boatbuilder Thomas Paynter, the man behind the recently relaunched St Ives Jumbo class.
Built as a working fishing boat for a local family and christened Our Francis, she was then converted to a gaff-ketch, plying the Cornish waters for more than 80 years, but over the past decade had fallen into severe disrepair.
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Now called Dos Amigos, she was retrieved from Looe harbour by crane last week and transported to the safe haven of Treeve boatyard in Hayle for restoration to begin.
Yard owner Robb Lello said she had been saved just in time. "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's far from seaworthy.
"She went from being an asset to Looe to a blight on the harbour."
The 11-tonne craft suffered infestation by gribble – a tiny prawn that gets into unprotected wood and eats it – making it even less likely someone would want to take her on.
"In fact, she was on the verge of being quietly impounded by Looe harbour," Mr Lello said.
"Luckily the vital first step of getting her out on to dry standing is now taken: she's out, and we've bought some time."
The new owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, is to meet Mr Lello to discuss the next stage; the wood alone is expected to cost £20,000. "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," said Mr Lello.
John Lambourn, from Mousehole, who rebuilt and owns St Ives lugger Ripple, said: "Gigs were open day-boats which were very versatile in that they could carry large amounts of fishing gear.
"The gig fishing boats of St Ives are a special class and well worth preserving and restoring for that reason alone."
Anyone who would like to offer their help with the restoration of Dos Amigos can find her on Facebook or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org