Old Island Boat Restored To Former Glory

The Soleil d'Or in the background during the Queen Mother's visit to Tresco

The Soleil d’Or in the background during the Queen Mother’s visit to Tresco

A former islander has restored a boat that was used to transport royalty around Scilly.

Falmouth pilot Dave Pickston grew up on the islands. Now he says he has realised, “a childhood dream” in acquiring and renovating the 43-foot Soleil d’Or.

Tresco owners the Dorrien-Smiths used the 1956-built vessel until the seventies, during which time many VIP passengers climbed aboard.

They included the Queen Mother, the Duke of Edinburgh, Harold Wilson and also Margaret Thatcher when she visited Scilly in her role as Education Secretary.

After leaving the islands, the boat was used in Medway and Liverpool.

Dave was keen to find her as he says he had always admired her “elegant lines.”

So he used data from the National Historic Ships Register and was assisted by Harbourmaster friends in tracing ‘Sol’ to Penarth near Cardiff, last year.

The boat was built to a very high standard of Burma oak on teak so Dave took her to Mylor Yacht Harbour for the restoration work.

Shipwrights Chris Oliver and Reed Downing stripped her back to bare wood for a full survey, before recaulking and repainting her with seven coats of the original black hull colour.

The masts and spars were also refurbished and engineer Will Parkinson set about a sensitive modernisation of her hydraulic steering, diesel engine and fuel systems.

Project Manager Henry Goldsmith says that an historic vessel like Sol uses all of the Mylor Yacht Harbour team’s skills, “both ancient and modern.”

Dave says Sol was launched into a force 8, whistling down Mylor Creek, and performed “perfectly.”

She is now at her new home on the Penryn River where work is continuing to bring the deck-side cosmetic work up to scratch.

She will mainly be used for family days out during the summer and Dave hopes to bring her back to Scilly in the future.

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