Sailing the Jumbo you can readily appreciate why the lug rig remained popular for small fishing boats through to the last days of sail.
To start with you've a wonderfully clear working area with the masts out of the way, and no boom to duck under. Even when close-hauled, the sail and sheets are clear of the work area.
This, combined with her modest size and manageable rig makes the Jumbo an ideal craft on which to relearn skills and explore the potential of fishing for a living – under sail.
Our aim is to establish a racing class of these boats at St.Ives in order to regenerate a waterfront community in decline. How much more effective it would be if, in addition, these boats could be used for the purpose for which they were designed whilst providing a seasonal income for a couple of individuals!
Clearly, there may come a time when, in addition to any green, carbon neutral credentials, a sail operated fishery could become commercially viable or at least a natural way of conserving resources (as demonstrated by the Falmouth oyster fishery -much celebrated as the last in the world to be worked under sail).
In the meantime the skills required need to be developed.
There's a growing recognition that this approach would at least address some serious issues; the sustainability of fish stocks, the rising cost of fuel, the dependence on imported goods and the lack of employment opportunities in rural areas to name a few.
And if successful, the model could be readily repeated elsewhere.
Only a few months ago such a proposal would have been dismissed as romantic fantasy. So far
however, my inquiries have been met with a degree of excitement .
Stephen Perham, the Harbour
Master of Clovelly, who has been working the herring
season there for decades, explained he has been thinking of reviving the 'picarooner' (their jumbo equivalent) for the purpose. It's
no coincidence that a replica of this particular craft is currently under
construction by students on the Traditional Boatbuilding Course at
Nathan De Rozarieux, the Project Director of Seafood Cornwall reckons there's sufficient public
awareness to support a significant premium for 'zero-carbon' fish when sold direct to the customer. This would ensure a market for the smallest catches.
This view is shared by Matthew Stevens MD of Matthew Stevens and Son, the regions leading supplier of fish and seafood based in St.Ives, who enthusiastically supports the principal of this initiative.
Even the authorities are supportive. The Marine Fisheries Agency at Newlyn inform me that obstructive legislation has been amended to allow unlicenced (unpowered) vessels of under 10m. to land and sell fish.
Without realising it individuals from each of the contributing sectors: boatbuilders, part-time fishermen, fishing authorities, and marketting have been quietly thinking along parallel lines but as yet have not joined forces.
We are on the threshold of a revival that could see several small, inshore and engineless fleets
springing up around our shores over the next decade.
The logical place to start is where we left off – and engines took over.
Sceptical? Of course – but just think where the organic industry was only 30 years ago!
Jonny Nance, November 2007