Rescue meeting unearths rare history

2019-04-03T10:52:26+00:00 April 1st, 2019|News|0 Comments


A meeting to set up a charitable trust to rescue the 1905 Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter Frolic from the threat of the chainsaw unearthed an unexpected find when the grandson of the 1930s owner Charles Crosthwaite trekked to Cardiff to share family photo albums and the treasured Cock of the Channel winners’ cup from the inaugural race in 1936.

The 1905 sailing pilot cutter was at the cutting edge of design for boats that have been described as the best sailing boat design ever, for speed and manoeuvrability, handled by just two crew to drop pilots onto ships destined for ports in the testing waters of the Bristol Channel.

National Historic Ships regard Frolic as a historically significant boat, and if she returns to Wales will bolster the lowly 3% of the UK’s registered historic ships that are currently in Wales.

The Frolic rescue campaign hopes to rescue Frolic from a jetty on an island near Bergen, Norway, and bring her back to Cardiff for a public restoration, so the people of city can discover her story and follow her journey back into pristine condition. The pilot cutter is then hoped to become an icon of the Welsh capital in Cardiff Bay, as an attraction and education resource.

Frolic is under cover on this island near Bergen

Present at the rescue brainstorming session included representatives from the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters Owners Association, Old Gaffers Association, and the Heritage and Cultural Exchange.

But the highlight was Charles Crosthwaite Eyre (main photo, above) driving from Andover to Cardiff Bay Yacht Club with the Lucinda Grace trophy for former pilots in the inaugural Cock of the Channel Race in 1936 for former Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters.

“It was not quite the done thing to have professional help in those days, so Frank Trott, the legendary retired pilot had to be smuggled on board. But once on the helm, that is where he stayed, and won the cup in 1936,” Charles said. His father was also on board as an eager university student who as a school boy had sailed with his father all over Northern Europe during school holidays.

As well as bringing an album with photos of Frolic in the 1936 and elsewhere in the 1930s, Charles brought news that the family would like to get involved in a successful rescue mission.

Close Hauled BC Race Frlc LR

Hauled out at Lymington in 1934

Racing in the Bristol Channel in 1936

Our previous report(s) 14 iii 19:  Call to rescue a Rare Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter

Frolic (foreground) with her Cardiff port of registry mainsail

A meeting to help rescue the Frolic, a 1905 Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter has been called for Wednesday 20th of March at 7pm in the Cardiff Bay Yacht Club.

CS ran a story on the cutter which was due to be cut up by chainsaw at the end of  January. Initial reaction to the story created a stay of execution to the  Frolic which now has until May before swhe has to be removed from her field in Norway. Organiser of the meeting William Loram hopes there is still time to act to bring her back to where the revolutionary Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter first earned her living in 1905, when Cardiff was one of the busiest coal ports in the world.

“The aim of this meeting is to bring this historic sailing pilot cutter back to Cardiff for a public restoration, and then make her the flagship of Cardiff maritime history as an attraction and education resource,” William says. The meeting will discuss logistics of a rescue and perhaps launch a funding campaign. The Frolic is in need of a total rebuild. Anyone with any interest in such a venture is urged to attend or to get in touch with William in person. Please also spread the word so that as many people as possible can learn about the meeting.

The inaugural meeting for Frolic Rescue is at 7pm Wednesday 20 March at Cardiff Bay Yacht Club ( CF11 0JL) for anyone wo can lend a hand to the rescue mission.

For more information contact Will Loram at or 07918 736140

Our story in late December headlined:  Rare Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter could be destroyed

One of the last few remaining Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters, the Frolic, built in 1905 is in danger of being cut up and destroyed.

The Frolic has been under cover in a field on an island NW of Bergen in Norway since 2006. She was brought there for repair – a total rebuild is likely – by Tjark Nieuweling, but is now in danger of being cut up since the boat has to be removed by 31st January 2019.

On the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters Owners Association page online the Frolic is described thus: “Frolic was built for Pilot Alf Edwards of Cardiff. After amalgamation she was converted to a yacht and subsequently when in the ownership of N.A. and J.S Bacon in the early 1930s and under Major Crosthwaite-Eyre in the later 1930s achieved considerable racing success. Most memorably she won, on-handicap, the Bristol Channel Race of 1936 when helmed by the venerable Frank Trott, the retired Bristol Channel Pilot. In 1952 she was bought by Peter Stubbs who restored her, converting her to schooner rig to be more manageable with his family. In the late 1970s she was sold to her present owner and has remained in Norway since then and is currently undergoing restoration.”


It seems though that tiome has run out for the cutter and she is in danger of being cut up or destroyed if she cannot be moved on by the end of January. Bristol Channel Pilot specialist boatbuilder John Raymond Barker says the job looks likely to be a complete rebuild, which would cost an estimated £400,000 to have done professionally. “It’s a pity she couldn’t have been sunk somewhere she could be preserved at least until someone with the wherewithal to rebuild her came along – at least that would preserve her,” he told CS.

A friend of Tjark, Atle Sundal, has got in touch with us and sent the photos below. Atle said anone interested in the vessel can contact him directly. She would go free to the right person. His email is

For his telephone number please contact Classic Sailor direct. Click on images to enlarge them.


Stem section

Planking around the sternpost

Quarter sections showing old oak frames

The deck under its plastic cover








Rebuilding had started with refastening of planks

Work has now stopped on Frolic








Builder: J.Westmacott of Cleave
Designer: C.Hancock
Build Date: 1905
Length over all: 55ft  (16.67m)
Beam: 13.40ft  (4.06m)
Displacement: 35 (Thames tonnage)
Draught: 8.70ft  (2.64m)

Main photo shows Frolic in the foreground with her Cardiff mainsail and an unidentified Newport cutter, date unknown from the Bristol Museum’s archive.