Tuesday 26th August 2008


Renowned Cornish sailor Pete Goss held a naming ceremony this bank holiday Monday to officially name his newest boat, Spirit of Mystery. Named by Diana Berry, a direct descendent of six of the seven original crew members, the boat has received worldwide attention in recent months. The official naming ceremony took place at Newlyn Fish Festival - home to the original ‘Mystery’.

The 37ft wooden lugger is due to set sail this October, following in the wake of seven Cornishmen who made a heroic journey from Newlyn to Australia more than 150 years ago. Times were hard and the seven Cornishmen, all related by either blood or marriage, made the decision to try their luck at the Australian gold rush over a pint in the Star Inn, Newlyn.

Leaving Newlyn in November 1854, the Mystery travelled 11,800 nautical miles in 116 days before arriving in Melbourne in March1855. The only break in the voyage was a week in Cape Town for repairs and replenishment before heading into the Southern Ocean. Pete is to re-enact their journey in the ‘Spirit of Mystery’, a boat as similar to the original as possible, using no engine and navigating only by the stars and sun. 

The ritual of naming and blessing new boats goes back thousands of years. The seas were viewed with fear and superstition, known as the destroyers of men. Blessing a boat was seen as a way to protect the sailors against the evils of the oceans.

Continuing the tradition, Pete held a naming ceremony for the Spirit of Mystery and following this, it was blessed by Keith Dixon from the Mission to Seamen who gifted the bible to the boat. Hundreds of visitors crowded around the boat to watch the service. Adding a unique twist to the traditional ceremony, Diana Berry used a bottle of Pete’s favourite tipple - a bottle of Talisker Whisky - to pour over the bow.

Pete, who was awarded an MBE after his dramatic rescue of a fellow competitor in the 1996-7 Vendee Globe single-handed yacht race, said the crew is becoming increasingly excited, although they are more than aware of the difficult task that lies ahead of them: “We always knew we wanted an official ceremony to name the boat, and as Newlyn is the home of the original ‘Mystery’ it seemed the perfect place. As a descendent to six of the original crew, it also seemed appropriate that Diana Berry be the one to choose the name. I am not normally a superstitious man but I didn’t like the idea of facing the Southern Ocean without the boat being blessed.  After years of sailing these strong traditions become embedded into your beliefs. We had a big crowd watching the ceremony with everyone wishing us well. There was a fantastic atmosphere with a real Cornish buzz.

“We have just completed our last week of training and are confident in our strong and sea friendly boat. We have seen some tough weather conditions and are confident in the boat and each other. We can’t wait to set sail in just seven weeks time.”

Ends - Dated 26/08/08