Spirit of Mystery heads for Biscay

The thought of a wind over the quarter was too good to miss for Pete Goss who slipped his mooring lines last night and set off aboard the 37ft Mounts Bay lugger, Spirit of Mystery towards the Bay of Biscay.

Spirit of Mystery is following in the wake of seven intrepid Cornishmen who sought out a new life in the Australian gold rush. Leaving Newlyn on Saturday 18 November 1854, the Mystery travelled about 11,800 nautical miles in 116 days before arriving in Melbourne on 14 March 1855. Like the crew of the original Mystery, who were all related by blood or marriage, it is a family affair, comprising: Pete Goss; his younger brother Andy, Pete’s youngest son Eliot, 14, and Pete’s brother-in-law Mark Maidment.

Pete Goss said: ‘After the long months of building, training and preparation it is great to be finally under way. There are so many people to thank who have helped us to get this far and all the people who have come to see the boat, extended a hand of friendship or sent us messages of support through the website. Despite the gloomy weather we are optimistic and in good spirits. We hope people will follow our progress on the website – petegoss.com – and support our chosen charity Cornwall Playing for Success.’

Despite the excitement, the crew is under no illusions about the task that lies ahead of them. A log entry from 6 March 1855 gives a taste of what the original crew of Mystery encountered: ‘A terrific gale of wind – heaviest so far experienced. Our gallant little boat rides the mountains of sea remarkably well.’

Eliot Goss said: ‘We have trained really hard so I am not scared, just excited and keen to get under way. I think this is a real learning experience and the chance of a lifetime.’

Spirit of Mystery is fitted with a satellite tracking device so that its progress can be monitored via Pete’s website – petegoss.com. Using technology supplied by Google Earth and Sailblogs, it will be possible to read daily log entries alongside those of the original voyage as the team battle the elements to steer their little wooden boat through the Atlantic and Southern Oceans to Australia.

Although technology will allow us to see their position accurately, read the log and look at pictures and video from the boat, it will be a different matter for the crew, who will navigate only by the stars. Comparing log entries will be fascinating for everyone following the project, not least the children from the Cornwall Playing for Success Charity, of which Pete is a founding trustee.

This project is designed to shine a light on the achievement of the crew of the original Mystery and raise awareness and funds for Cornwall Playing for Success. Children from the out of school hours initiative will follow the adventure and learn about local and social history, boat building, navigation and a host of other subjects as part of the ‘Sense of Place’ program.

Pete said: “This project is about the past and the future. Seven fantastic men from the past can inspire the youth of today through Cornwall Playing for Success.”

Further details about Spirit of Mystery are on Pete’s website at www.petegoss.com .