Pete Goss’s Spirit of Mystery is for sale


Photos by Mark Lloyd

Spirit of Mystery, the 37ft Mounts Bay lugger that sailing racer and adventurer Pete Goss had built to sail to Australia is for sale.

Pete used the boat to recreate the famous voyage of the fishing lugger Mystery, in which a group of seven Cornishmen led by Captain Richard Nicholls sailed to the distant colony to find work and prosperity in 1854/5. They were all related and had shares in the boat, and the legend is that Captain Nicholls agreed to make the voyage after a few drinks…

Back then, the Mystery became the smallest migrant vessel ever to make the journey.

Apart from successfully recreating the Mystery voyage, the Spirit of Mystery has history built into her – Goss sourced a piece of oak from Nelson’s Victory to make up the chart table, teak from the Cutty Sark forms part of the saloon table and an original rivet from the SS Great Britain is a cupboard handle.

Built in Cornish oak and larch by Cornish boat builder Chris Rees, Spirit of Mystery has four main berths, a pilot berth, toilet, gas cooker and wood-burning stove, and is a comfortable cruiser. She has also shown she can take some very heavy weather – following a knock-down in the Southern Ocean she rolled back up and carried on sailing.

Goss says he is sad to see her go, but is moving on to a  new adventure. ‘I always thought that Spirit would be the boat I grew old with when I gave up major adventures – one that Tracey and I would take cruising when we retire.

‘But with a new adventure in the pipeline and no time to use her, it is time for her to go to a new home. Hopefully it will be to an owner that loves and cherishes her as I have done and if it is also one that keeps the story alive then so much the better.’

Spirit of Mystery is lying in Plymouth and is for sale for £80,000 (tax paid). There is more information about her at the website

Couta sailing boats in the Australian sun

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Couta boats racing in the Australian sun

Dale Appleton sent us these photos of some almost absurdly good looking Couta boats racing in the warmth of the Australian summer off Queenscliff, Victoria.

(By the way, let me assure anyone who may be wondering – up here in deepest, darkest rural Kent we’ve been snowed in good and proper for the first time in years.)

He says that the Coutas are now highly sought after as a pleasure and racing boat, and even as a status symbol to some, and adds that there is a traditional builder making them to order. I think that’s seriously good news. See the class website.

Dale also pointed out that there’s a hidden treasure on the Couta Boat Club’s website, by the way. Readers may remember that Pete Goss’s Spirit of Mystery expedition recently had a nasty experience when their recreated Cornish fishing lugger suffered a knockdown as they approached Australia. One crew member on deck at the time broke his leg and their boat lost its clinker-built dinghy made from off-cuts from the Mystery herself.

Well, in an amazing coincidence it seems that dinghy has turned up on a beach at King Island, part way between mainland Australia and Tasmania, and I gather it is being fixed up by local boatbuilder Jeremy Clowes, who sailed with the Mystery crew after she reached King Island – I gather he has replaced the upper planks and various other bits and pieces using parts donated by local wooden boat enthusiasts. As Dale says, it’s a story to warm any boat builder’s heart. See the story here.

Surrounded by unaccustomed ice, I’ve been reflecting on how grateful I am that people like Dale and many others are so willing to send in their photos and stories. Thanks Dale and the rest – your efforts are greatly appreciated, and I hope you know how much you add to the sum of human happiness in the boating world.

Spirit of Mystery crew set sail for Australia – but without their underpants

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The crew of the Mounts Bay lugger Spirit Mystery
wave as they set sail for Australia – presumably
before the underpants crisis hit home

West Country sailor and adventurer Pete Goss and the crew of Spirit of Mystery have begun their epic voyage to Australia via the Atlantic and Southern Oceans. Taking advantage of a change in the wind, they slipped lines on Monday evening, waved goodbye to the gathered crowd and set sail after a series of strong westerlies, the wind finally swung around to the north west, giving the little wooden lugger a push on the long journey south and into the Bay of Biscay.

Satellite tracking will allow the rest of us to monitor their progress via Pete’s website at

The news today, however, is that their friend and PR guru Stuart Elford has distributed a news release announcing that the sailing heroes left their most of their underpants in a launderette in Newlyn before they commenced their voyage to Australia via Cape Town.

Flying enthusiast Elford had hoped to drop packs of replacement undergarments to the little ship from his private aeroplane, but has apparently been defeated by the strong winds and poor visibility.

‘By the time the weather clears they will be out of range of light aircraft from the UK,’ he said.

In any case, it’s unclear whether it would be right to use modern technology to deliver a large consignment of underpants to the crew. ‘The crew of the original Mystery would not have had this sort of support, so perhaps it is fitting that we didn’t make the air-drop,’ he added.

So there we have it. Captain Goss and fearless crew of commandos are going down under without their underwear. Thank God they’re British!

I only hope the Sheilas of Australia will throng the dockside for the Mystery’s eventual arrival and show their appreciation by slinging a few pairs of Marks & Spencer’s best across to the blushing and only slightly forgetful crew.

Underpants or not and even in poor weather, at this time of year I’m prepared to bet many of’s UK-based readers will wish they were also sailing south towards the sun. For their sake, I trust this is the worst thing that goes wrong.

I’ve got a bundle of close-up photos taken when we dropped in at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall to share some time, so look out for that if you’re interested in the Spirit of Mystery.

Follow the link for earlier posts on Pete Goss and the Spirit of Mystery.

Spirit of Mystery in less inclement weather – and presumably
better supplied with underwear

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