Soleil d’Or Returns to Cornwall

Soleil d’Or is a beautiful 43ft, 1956 inter-island launch with Royal heritage that our Marine Team had the pleasure of working on last summer.

Completely unique, Soleil d’Or was built in 1956 by Frank Curtis and Pape Bros of Looe, and commissioned for the Dorrien Smith family, owners of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly where she was used as a tender for the Royal family and other VIP’s on their trips to the Island.

Brought to us in August 2015 by her new owner Captain David Pickston, chairman of Falmouth Pilots LLP, he tells her story beautifully:

‘I knew the Soleil d’Or when I was growing up in the Isles of Scilly and had always admired her elegant lines. In those days she had a full time boatman and under his steady hand proved herself to be a great sea boat.

Knowing that she was built to a very high standard (Burma Teak on Oak) I felt sure that she would still be around and with the help of the National Historic Ships Register, and a couple of Harbour Master friends, I tracked her down to Penarth Marina, Cardiff.

I was lucky enough to be able to buy her in July ’15. As Mylor Yacht Harbour had previously done a lot of work on my last boat and had all the necessary skills on site, I immediately brought her down to finish off the major restoration work already done by the previous owner.’


Soleil d'Or on arrival to Mylor Yacht Harbour August 2015  Cpt Dave Pickston on his boat Soleil d'Or in the Shed at Mylor Yacht Harbour 2015  Soleil d'Or planking Mylor Yacht Harbour 2015

The work at Mylor included:

  • Take all underwater sections back to bare wood and survey.
  • Re-caulk remaining sections aft.
  • Re-paint underwater sections (7 coats in all) and return hull colour to the original black.
  • Strip masts and spars and re-coat with 4 coats of Sikkens stain.
  • Convert to commercial spec. hydraulic steering with extra size ram allowing up to 45 degrees of helm.
  • Check the engine (Gardner 4LW), renew seawater strainer, upgrade fuel system and set to work.
  • Manufacture and fit custom stainless steel shoe around stem.
  • Other little jobs to help me out including fitting an emergency steering access in the aft deck, improving the mast step and fitting new mast caps.
Soleil d'Or in the big shed at Mylor Yacht Harbour after being painted 2015  Soleil d'Or emerging from the work shed at Mylor Yacht Harbour Nov 2015  Soleil d'Or's launch at Mylor Yacht Harbour Nov 2015

‘She was launched in November into a force 8 whistling down Mylor Creek, and performed perfectly. She is now at her new home on 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. Who knows – I might even give the sails a try one day ……!

The next stage will be to discretely modernise the on board services and set her up for genteel cruising around the South West and the Isles of Scilly.’

Cpt Dave Pickston, owner Soleil d’Or