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East Cornwall Luggers

The luggers built to operate out of the harbours east of the Lizzard, such as Mevagissey, Looe, Fowey, Gorran Haven and Polperro were somewhat different than those built in West Cornwall. They were all registered at Fowey with the letters FY.

Both had a dipping lug on the fore mast and a standing one on the mizzen but the east coast boats had finer underwater lines often with a fore mast stepped in a tabernacle on deck occasionally without lowering back into a scottle. The boats from both areas were of a similar size. The sails were made up to their own yards and when not in use stowed forward on the deck port side unlike the west Cornwall luggers with their raft irons for stowing. Any spare sails with no yards were kept aft below deck.

Although the luggers of Porthleven were generally built with a transom stern this was the exception in West Cornwall as they were usually double ended or pointed sterned. The boats of East Cornwall were all transom sterned and only varied in the different harbours with the rake of the transoms; well raked at Mevagissey and with more upright stern posts at Looe and Fowey. They were built somewhat lighter than the vessels west of the Lizzard and had the same sail configuration but often with the addition of a jib on a running bowsprit to port through a hole in the bulwarks and even a mizzen topsail set on a mizzen pole topmast. They used legs in their drying-out harbours as they had finer bodies than their West Cornwall counterparts and unlike the St. Ives boats with their flatter floors to lie upright unaided on the harbour sand.

The difference in designs probably evolved due to the less extreme weather conditions and the more sheltered harbours on the coasts in east Cornwall. These harbours were usually natural were boats could dry out with good shelter but in the west where the harbours were often in rocky coves the space was limited and the double ended craft could nose their way into confined spaces impossible for square sterns.

The following pages with links to the left and above show some of the east coast luggers sailing today. There are other more informative sites documenting these vessels, but east coast luggers are included here for an interesting comparison of the slightly different sailing luggers that used to fish out of Cornwall.

 

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