Provident is slightly smaller than Leader, at 95 feet LOA and 85 tonnes. She carries 2,750 sq ft of sail on a gaff ketch rig, is 70 ft on deck, has a beam of 17 ft and a draught of 9 ft. She is one of the medium-sized ‘Mule’ class of sailing trawler. Provident was built in 1924, in the same yard on the River Dart as Leader, which was by then owned by Mr Gibbs’ son-in-law, John Sanders. She was a replacement for an earlier vessel of the same name, sunk during the First World War by a German U-boat. She fished out of Brixham for 10 years before being sold to a wealthy American and converted to a private yacht.
After being laid up in Cornwall during the Second World War, she arrived in Salcombe in South Devon, in 1951, as the founding vessel of the Island Cruising Club. In the late 1980’s, Provident underwent a major refit, and was re-launched in 1991. She continued to sail with the Club until 1999, when she started working from Brixham as part of the newly-formed Trinity Sailing Foundation. Down below she has 16 berths, 12 for guests and four for crew, and has facilities similar to those on Leader.
Provident is rigged now just as she was when she fished under sail early last century. She has a ‘Gaff Rig’, indicating that the Main and Mizzen sails are hoisted using a ‘gaff’, a spar attached to their upper side. The Ketch rig (two masts) was used to divide up the sail area, making each sail easier to handle by a small crew. The large number of sails (up to eight) makes it easy to ‘change gear’ by hoisting or lowering sails as required, depending upon the strength of the wind.
The Ketch rig is very versatile; good in light winds, when extra sails can be set (such as flying jib, mizzen topsail and mizzen staysail), good in heavy winds (she can sail under mizzen and staysail alone) and good for manoeuvring (the mizzen can be used to help to balance and turn the boat).