HMS Pickle prepares for Isle homecoming

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An historic vessel is almost ready for her journey to the Isle after months of careful renovation in Portugal.

HMS Pickle, a replica of the schooner that famously brought back the news of the Battle of Trafalgar victory to England and was wrecked in 1808, is owned by Isle man Mal Nicholson, who plans to sail her to Keadby within weeks.

This week saw ‘the Pickle’ finally out on the water to sail from Vilamoura in Portugal to Portimao - a five hour journey planned to allow Mal and his crew to check her out properly.

Mal said: “She looks fantastic with all the new gear, masts booms etc, and had sails on for the first time in quite a while. The sails were repaired in Vilamoura.”

Of the shipwright who has painstakingly helped him put HMS Pickle back together, he said: “Rui Pinto is a gifted shipwright for wooden ships. His father, grandfather and his grandfather’s grandfather have been master shipwrights for a few hundred years. This is a place almost unique for its skills.”

His adventure with Pickle, bought last year by Mal, has been recorded by him on a dedicated Facebook site that has attracted scores of followers.

Naval ship Pickle was first recreated for the bicentennial of Nelson’s Death and as a memorial for the Battle of Trafalgar. She was bought by her latest owner in a poor state, in Ocean Village Gibraltar, then taken to Portugal from where she will set sail for the Humber shortly, following the route that made her famous.

As the fastest ship in the Navy in her time, the schooner is still celebrated widely with her own ‘Pickle Night’ in November.

Everyone who has been involved in the restoration of Pickle has been proud of the part they have played.

Christopher A Sørensen, when recording his work on the chapeau bras (bicorn), said he was “tempted to even sign my work for once. I’m very proud of this piece and will shamelessly take pride in the voyage it will be undertaking in the near future.”

Last week the tall ship had to be taken to a crane to lift the masts into place and ‘step”’them on to the keel.

It was a great success despite windy conditions, said Mal, largely due to a big team effort on the day.

This followed a delay in work for several days due to political issues that arose at the marina and that were finally settled after protracted negotiations involving Mal and the relevant authorities.

If plans now continue to go ahead as expected, Mal will bring his latest acquisition back to the Isle to join his other ship, the last remaining Humber super sloop Spider T that he and his family have lived on for over a year after being flooded out of their Burringham premises.

HMS Pickle, promises Mal, is to be treasured and enjoyed by the greater public. An earlier fact finding exercise he conducted discovered an amazing well of support for the ship to be brought back to the Humber as a valued tourist attraction.

He added: “Hers is probably one of the greatest sea stories ever told. I hope her future is full of adventure.”