Pioneer CK18 68ft Harris built 1864

Pioneer was originally 57 ft. overall length working out of Brightlingsea dredging deep sea oysters. Lengthened by Aldous in 1889, and having a ‘wet well’, she’s probably the last remaining UK sailing fishing vessel with one.

PIONEER lying off the Nothe at Mersea in the 1950s.
In the 1930s PIONEER was sold to the steward of the East Mersea Golf Club and was towed across the Colne to a mudberth close to the clubhouse. A deckhouse was added and part of the deck cut away but work was halted in 1939. Rumour has it that a gun was mounted on her foredeck. The Navy wanted her moved so local Mersea fisherman Bobby Stoker towed her round to what could have been her final resting place in the Strood channel. Moored up forlorn and neglected she was left, and in a gale she parted her lines, laid over and sank. Bought by Vic Michell after WW2, she never floated during the whole of his ownership.
the next 55 years she gracefully decayed, her name and purpose barely remembered. The 1953 floods destroyed the deckhouse, the 1987 hurricane made the bows collapse and by 1998 most of the boat above the mud had eroded away, eaten by shipworm and rot.
PIONEER – James Green and Alex Risk, pattern maker and metal worker, celebrate the launch. The bawley BONA passes astern
Salvaging PIONEER CK18. On the trolley at Wyatt’s slip. At last the remains can be seen – the most complete Class 1 Colchester smack in existence.
Rebuilding PIONEER CK18. Before the re-build could start, a full set of lines had to be constructed.
The hull was battened by Brian Kennell and Shaun White. It was then measured using a laser level. This lengthy and time consuming task was carried out by Rupert Marks and John Harding and the lines were drawn by David Cannell.
Launching of the Skillinger PIONEER CK18 at Brightlingsea 17 May 2003. This vessel had laid as a wreck at Mersea since the 1940s. She was retrieved from her muddy grave in Strood Creek and restored by local craftsmen to her former glory. – O.M. Fletcher June 2003.
Smack PIONEER CK18 sailing into the evening sun on the River Blackwater. She was built 1886, derelict and sunk 1942, restored and relaunched 2003.