This week I have added two new stories to the website. Up the River Torridge -two new leisurely boat trips added to the boat trip page. And 'the secrets of the Rolle Canal' a forgotten canal which was the main transport artery from the North Devon coast inland to Torrington for many years on our heritage page. And below a blog on our first day on location on our lobster potting film.
Image courtesy & copyright Rolle Canal Society
OUR POTTING FILM
We were filming the first string of pots being hauled aboard, soon after dawn, just outside Ilfracombe harbour, when suddenly the whole boat juddered as the rope stuck fast on the winch. The string of pots had got caught on an old anchor. Eventually skipper, Geoff Huelin, produced a serious knife and cut the boat free. It took about forty minutes for the crew to release the boat and prepare a new string of lobster pots and for Geoff it meant lost gear before we’d started. “Nothing ever goes to plan on these trips,” he told us “there’s often some horror story.” To make each trip pay, Geoff has to shoot the pots and bring them back in twelve times so before we’d even left harbour he was worrying that we wouldn’t fit everything in before dark.
With my filmmaker's hat on I was still smiling. We wanted to show life on a potting boat and Geoff who followed his father into potting generously agreed to take us out on a working day. We also wanted to look at the fishermen’s role in supporting the no take zone around Lundy. When I begun this series, I knew we’d be hugely dependent on weather and sea state, wind and swell, but I hadn’t factored in how crucial the tides would be. The right tides for our story come round only once a fortnight so to have pots in the right place, Sarah (from Devon and Severn IFCA) and Simon our cameraman (who I’d chosen for this film because I’d seen his film work on boats all around the Overseas Territories) on board AND the sun shining, on our first day on location, seemed like a small miracle.
From that point on, Geoff, Chris and Kirk worked non-stop to get the job done. For a few minutes, we tried a piece to camera, then Geoff suddenly left frame to stop the boat running aground. And, after all that rocking around, while the boat was stuck fast, then leaping over the tidal race, Simon began to feel a little wobbly. But he soldiered gamely on, filming ‘actuality’ as and when it happened and got some amazing movie. We're not giving the story away because we want you to watch the film! We didn’t know what to expect, but after 13 hours on the boat we got exactly what we came for and more – a slice of life on a working potting boat and a story of fishermen and conservationists working together to promote a sustainable fishery.
We are waiting for some more sunshine to film a few more shots (from land) – then we will finish editing this film and it will be available to watch and share.
“You’re kidding? Are there really dolphins and seals out here in our sea?” This surprised response often greets Rick Morris, MARINElife’s wildlife officer, as he makes his way around the passengers on MS Oldenburg, en route to Lundy. “Yes,” is the answer, but keep your eyes peeled. And if you follow Rick around the boat, as I did one Saturday in early May, your chances of spotting sea mammals are even higher. As the MS Oldenburg left Bideford and sailed slowly down the Taw and Torridge estuary, Rick introduced himself to everyone on the boat and handed out leaflets about MARINElife’s work. Rick or another volunteer is on the boat every Saturday and every month they do a full survey of the sea mammals and birds from the ferry.
As Rachel, MARINElife’s science officer, explained, “it makes perfect sense to survey from the ferries. We need to gather data following the same route or transect, noting changes over time and ferries like the Oldenburg repeatedly track back and forth at a fixed speed.” Rachel’s passion is seabirds and she did her PhD on the foraging behaviour of gannets. For years, these large, striking birds have been bucking the trend, doing well while other seabirds like the auks (guillemots and razorbills) and kittiwakes have been seriously struggling. Gannets are the ultimate generalist, able to hunt a wide range of fish and they learned to follow fishing boats and harvest any discarded fish thrown back into the ocean.
I was interested to know what Rachel thought of the proposed discards ban. As a punter, when you learn that so much fresh fish is thrown back – because it’s too small and has little chance of surviving – banning discards seems a no brainer. But Boat Stories has been listening to the fishermen’s point of view. They have to buy quota. Any fish, they can’t return to the sea, becomes part of that precious quota. If fish are too small to sell commercially they’ll be turned into fishmeal and fishermen will earn less for their catch - pushing what is already a perilous business for small fishermen even closer to the tipping point. Rachel said thoughtfully, “any ban will need to be phased in slowly, to give the seabirds a chance to adapt.” Meanwhile we were keeping our eyes peeled out for Rachel’s gannets. Follow them as they fold their wings and plunge into the ocean and the chances are that dolphins may be after the same schools of fish.
The cloud hung, heavy and grey, but Rick and Rachel both laughed when I grumbled. “It makes it easier to spot fins,” said Rick, “you’re not constantly screwing up your eyes against the glare. And with no whitecaps these are perfect conditions.” Rick proceeded to tell me he’d seen minke whale on this crossing so I decided to put the pressure on. Luckily for Rick a passenger shouted, “We’ve seen a fin”. Rick rushed over and identified the triangular fin as a harbour porpoise. Needless to say I missed it!
Half way across seemed a good time to say hello to the captain, Jerry and first mate on the bridge. I found them all eyes trained on a bulk carrier which seemed to be on collision course. “We’re on the starboard passage, so they should give way to us,” Jerry told me. “The chances are no one’s on the bridge – they’ll be relying on electronic aids.” Eventually, slowly, the big ship gave way to our ferry and Jerry began to tell me about the 26 ships he’s captained. He’d just come from the helm of the Irish Naval ship, Le Samuel Beckett, built in Appledore, conducting sea trials. “I tweeted you!” I told him. The fisheries protection vessel is one of the ships on my Marine Traffic fleet and I’d spotted her from Ilfracombe harbour. A few years back on a trip to Lundy, I’d also spotted a pod of dolphins, bow riding the ferry; I began to point them out to passengers, surprised that the bridge was keeping quiet. “Do you tell passengers if you spot dolphins now?” I asked Jerry. “We try to,” he said. “But if over two hundred passengers cross to one side, she could begin to list.” I hadn’t thought of that! We were nearing Lundy. Time to get an identification lesson from Rick before the dolphins turned up!
Back on deck, the wind had woken up and a few seabirds were using it to get around. Several Manx shearwaters skimmed close to the water, using the lift from the waves to race us to Lundy. We spotted seven black tailed godwit on migration and two dumpy guillemots, flapping hard. Where were the sea mammals? Rick explained that while both dolphins we might see have the typical curved dorsal fin, the common dolphin has a distinct hourglass-shaped white pattern on its side and is much smaller than the bottlenose which can reach 3-4 metres. Dave the dolphin who (I’ve blogged about before) and who frequented Ilfracombe and Combe Martin last year was a bottlenose. Once you get to know them, behaviour helps in identification. Around the North Devon coast the dolphins showing off – the ones that should be riding our bow wave are usually common dolphins. The fins we spot from the sea cliffs usually belong to harbour porpoises which prefer shallower water and like to hug the coast.
Rick knows his sea mammals so well that I assume he’s been watching them for years. “I’m a long distance lorry driver,” he told me. A few years ago he was on ferry from Portsmouth to Spain, when he asked a MARINElife wildlife officer, staring out to sea, what he was looking for. “Whales blowing,” came the answer. “Like that one there?” replied Rick. He’d spotted his first fin whale and “was hooked, line and sinker.” Now Rick surveys from ferries leaving ports all around the UK. "People think they have to go to New Zealand to see whales, but European seas are amongst the most diverse in the world." It's Rachel's job to make sense of the data collected by hundreds of volunteers. We don't spot fin whales off North Devon, very often, but just days after we filmed Ilfracombe fisherman Geoff Huelin, he “spotted two minke whales and had dolphins riding the bow wave all the way to Lundy and back!” Boat Stories didn’t see any dolphins last Saturday (Rick did!). But we did see plenty of seals, because we went on the Oldenburg around the island trip. (A bonus on certain tides!) And we travelled home with some Lundy sheep.
High pressure, sunshine, the North Devon coast! When we came back to Ilfracombe harbour after filming yesterday, the evening light bathing the contours of the cliffs was simply glorious. Wondering what to do over the weekend? Why not go out on a charter boat or boat trip with a qualified skipper?
THE HAMPSHIRE ROSE: harbour trips in a traditional lifeboat
The other day, I was sitting up top of Ilfracombe lifeboat station chatting to Stuart Carpenter, a volunteer helmsman on the inshore life boat, when rather cheekily I asked him what his day job was. He glanced out over the harbour, laughed and said ‘I drive a lifeboat around all day.’ The lifeboat in question is the “Hampshire Rose” a traditional wooden lifeboat which Stuart has had restored to take passengers on half hour tours around Ilfracombe harbour. She is a Rother Class lifeboat and saw active service in Kent until 1990. Lifeboats with wooden double-ended hulls (like hers) were in use for nearly 200 years. Dressed in traditional lifeboat colours of orange and blue, she’s unmistakable once you know her. She’s licensed to take 12 passengers.
To book – look out for the traditional lifeboat man on the harbour or call 07818 094228 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
OBSESSION II : diving and charter boat
Chatting alongside Stuart was Leigh Hanks: fulltime mechanic and deputy coxswain and Ilfracombe’s lifeboat station’s only paid employee. Amazingly the lifeboat has a pool of 29 volunteer crew members. It sounds plenty, yet at any one time, 24/7, a lifeboat operations manager, a mechanic and a coxswain (for both the inshore boat and the all weather boat) is on call. Boat Stories salutes them all for their time and courage and will blog about the RNLI one day. We would love to make a film too! Meantime though, I couldn’t ask Leigh what his job was – so I asked him about his hobbies and rare days off. Turns out his holiday of choice is skippering a boat and diving and he is relief skipper of the diving boat ‘the Obsession 11.’
Boat Stories has never been on any boat named Obsession but I spotted Obsession 11 last week, from Lundy. Recognisable, with her diving platform at the stern, she was dropping off a happy looking mixed party on the quay. Besides diving she offers everything from swimming with seals (see our page) to hen and stag parties or the scattering of ashes. The good news is that every member of the Obsession fleet (skippers and crew) also volunteers for the RNLI, so out in the Bristol Channel you should be in safe hands.
JAY JAY & Lundy Explorer: Ilfracombe sea safaris
The skipper and owner of Jay Jay (available for diving and angling ) and Lundy Explorer, Mark Hutchings, also volunteers on the lifeboat crew. Good to know because the Bristol Channel, with its fast, high tidal race, deserves respect. The Lundy Explorer is a new, bright orange rib, capable of zipping in and out of the coves along our beautiful coast. Boat Stories went for a ride in the rib last summer hoping to spot Dave the Dolphin. We were disappointed not to see Dave the bottlenose, but we did a lot of zipping as the crew tried to make up for it by providing an adrenalin rush. Many people were entertained by Dave last summer and as ever Boat Stories is keen to look behind the headlines, find out why he paid us a visit and why or where he might have moved on. Or whether as rumour has it - he turned into Doris! If we hear he’s back – we’ll let you know. Rick Morris, MARINElife’s Lundy wildlife officer, told Boat Stories that lone dolphins have often been rejected by their social group or pod because they have misbehaved in some way or are simply too young and fit to be acceptable - in the same way that young male lions are forced to leave their family pride. It might be that Dave approached boats – looking for company. But we really don’t know enough about dolphin behaviour. A quote often used, I have borrowed it myself when writing voice-overs for films, “we know more about outer space than we know about life in our oceans”.
Contact Jay Jay or Lundy Explorer on 07827 679189 or 01271 863398
If you go out on one of the charter boats or take the Oldenburg to Lundy (blog coming soon) there’s a fair chance that you will see common dolphins riding the bow wave – and keep your eyes peeled for harbour porpoises. The message from MARINElife is enjoy watching our local sea mammal population– but don’t harass them – they will come to you if they want to. See Lundy warden’s guidelines on our ‘swimming with seals’ page. And let us know if you see anything interesting. A sun fish or (totally harmless) basking shark perhaps? They’ve been spotted already this year but Boat Stories hasn’t seen them yet..
As I walk into S&P fish shop on Ilfracombe harbour Clare is unpacking the new waterproof labels and Rich is dressing lobster. “I’m learning,” admits Clare, “anything you want to know about fish or how to cook it - ask Rich.” I soon discover Clare knows a lot more than she is letting on. She is married to P for Paul - one of the Wharton brothers who founded S&P trawlers: the largest fishing fleet in North Devon. Paul is the skipper of the banana-yellow potting boat ‘Lady of Lundy’ which supplies lobsters and crabs directly to the shop. Add to this the fish which comes off the trawlers and S&P is the only wet fish shop in North Devon fed directly from the boats. Clare’s also running the licensed café selling seafood sandwiches and platters right on the harbour. With the fishing boats only ten metres or so away, you can’t beat this for food miles.
There’s an amazing variety of large fresh fish of every shape and size laid on ice, before me –much more than in your usual fishmonger and I’m struggling to identify everything. Besides the usual haddock fillet (on offer) there is pollock, bass, ling, plaice, sole, brill, turbot, monkfish, scallops, and John Dory (Rich’s favourite). You really see what you’re getting here – the whole beast - which Rich will fillet for you if you’d rather not do it yourself. He’s also prepared meaty chunks ready for kebabs for the barbecue or mixed for fish pie. “The salmon is farmed of course and the brown crab comes from south Devon, otherwise it all comes in mixed boxes straight off the boats.”
If the trawlers land by day, Rich can select his fish off the boat. If the fish is landed in the middle of night the catch heads straight to Appledore fish dock and S&P in effect buys their own catch back from them. Clare tells me they often have a two or three hour turn around before the boats are off out to sea again, for several days. As a fisherman’s wife she’s used to being summoned to the harbour in the middle of night with food parcels or a change of clothes.
All S&P boats are certified under Seafish’s responsible fishing scheme which Gus Carslake from Seafish told Boat Stories is “the equivalent of an organic inspection for boats. It focuses on sustainable fishing, measures taken to avoid unnecessary bycatch, fish quality (in terms of hygiene, putting fish on ice, getting it to the customer quickly) and how the boat is maintained – hugely relevant for the safety of the crew.” Seafish want to encourage fishmongers to link the fish customers buy to individual boats in the same way that good butchers will tell you which farm their beef or lamb comes from. Restaurants in Ilfracombe could do the same – you could be eating on the Quay and spot the boat which caught your ‘fish of the day’! S&P’s trawlers are orange –look out for them coming in and out of Ilfracombe, Appledore or Bideford. There’s the 15 metre Sparkling Star who joined the fleet in 2012, skippered by Paul Stone and crewed by Karl and the two Toms. And Our Olivia Belle - built for the fleet and named after the Wharton brothers’ daughters Olivia and Isabel and skippered by Scott, the S of S&P, his son Danny and Marcus ‘Tats’ White. So North Devon’s largest fleet is not huge! For those who remember Our Josie Grace (named after daughters Josie and Olivia Grace) she was sold earlier this year, after the fleet lost their ‘historic rights’ to fish off the Welsh Coast. According to Boat Stories' fleet on Marine Traffic, her new home is somewhere on the East coast, fishing the North Sea.
Buying and selling boats is something Scott is used to as he responds to the ups and downs and ever changing fishing regulations. “Our Josie Grace employed four crew,” he tells me “and kept four more employees going on land.” A few years ago, when it looked as though the writing was on the wall for fishing, S&P invested in boats which could supply transport to offshore windfarms and so he is able to employ the skippers he would have had to lay off. “There’s plenty of fish out there – plenty for a good sustainable local fishing industry, perhaps 20 to 30 local boats - if only we could manage it.” Minutes after he tells me he’s done with fishing he happily admits, “It’s still the best job in the world.” Amazingly Scott and his brother started out fishing off Lee Bay in a tiny wooden boat they bought from their wages after playing extras in a Glenda Jackson film. Scott’s career path from wooden boat to fleet owner would be almost impossible in today’s climate without backing or sponsorship.
Scott is used to selling fish shops too - he sold S&P fishmongers in Butcher’s Row, (Passmores still operate there (see our fish page) and decided to invest in the café on the harbour. A fish shop and café where you can sit outside and watch the boats come in, drink a glass of chilled wine or cold beer with your crab sandwich sounds idyllic. Yet business has been slow – so this is a make or break year. “We’re going all out for it this year,” Clare tells me. Hence the lobster tank (being cleaned) the new fish tank with spider crabs and other sea life to attract the children, special offers, the new menu cards and the offer of local delivery.
So the message is use this local fish shop and cafe or risk losing it. They have some faithful local customers – several turned up while I was there – and went away happy. And OK you have to pay for the car park and the food and drink you buy. But watching life go on in a busy working harbour is one of the few spectacles left that is free. Rich must have noticed me reading the menu and drooling. He offers me a taste of local lobster : sweet, juicy, meaty and delicate. I always thought lobster was out of my price range – but they’re on special offer and I buy half a dressed lobster (cooked and prepared) to take home to the family.
I leave Clare and Rick working away to catch the potting boats coming in on the high tide.
for information on opening times check out our fish page
The last few times I’ve visited Clovelly, it’s felt a bit like entering a theatre and walking slowly down from the ‘gods’ - the car park at the top to centre stage: the harbour below. You pay your entrance and then from the royal box you get the first tantalising glimpse of blue sea and sky. Princess Anne may take this same winding cobbled road when she comes to unveil a plaque to seafarers on May 6th. Round another bend and the sea shanties drifting up the natural amphitheatre of cliffs are a reminder that, as usual, I’m late for the performance. Down another tier to the grand circle and the harbour is laid out before you. On lobster and crab or herring festival days the quay is packed tight with colourful stalls selling their wares to visiting crowds. But this time there is no slightly camp pink lobster or sequinned fishwives on stilts. On this visit (as for much of the year) Clovelly is a working harbour, with fishermen still playing catch up after the winter storms. Yet as I jump down on to the pebbled beach - I am, as ever, late!
“You’ve kept me waiting,” grumbles Stephen Perham, the harbour master, lying on his back, daubing red anti-fouling paint on Neptune’s hull. “You didn’t text back, so I thought you’d run away to sea,” I reply, recognising Neptune as Stephen’s father’s old herring boat. It’s been five or six years since I first wrote about Stephen’s quest to revive herring fishing in Clovelly and I want to check that he’s still passionate about these fickle fish. “I’m behind getting her ready for the season,” he tells me, “being a wooden boat she needs a lot of TLC, plus her engine needed repairing.” Stephen has been busy over the last weeks clearing the beach and replacing the wooden posts around the harbour wall.
Peter Braund (another old Clovelly name) is loading Stephen’s other boat, the picarooner, ready to go out and check their pots. The tiny, graceful picarooner was copied from one of the original wooden Clovelly herring boats, designed to beat the larger boats out to the shoals. Peter is one of the few in Clovelly who remembers herring fishing before it was banned in 1977 to protect herring stocks. Stephen was too young to go out on the boats. He reminds me of an image of father and son, trapped inside by the herring ban, Dad drawing the ‘fishing marks’ in the condensation or the salt on the window pane to show his young son where he would shoot the nets – if he could. Joy, Stephen’s partner joins in, “there’s plenty of herring but people have forgotten how to prepare and cook them.”
I have my answer, so I walk along the harbour wall to find Tommy Perham, Stephen’s older brother, clearing lobster pots from the quay, ready for Princess Anne’s visit. He is roping the heavy baskets down to John Balls in the boat below. John’s boat, Aurora, is still away for repairs (the winter storms created a shingle bank which blocked the harbour trapping her inside) so they are sharing Tommy’s boat. Tommy left fishing for several years to work in the building trade and as a fishmonger. His pots are baited with salted herring. It seems a waste but he tells me there’s no money in herrings. Last year was a bumper harvest – there were so many, they flooded the tiny local market and they couldn’t give them away. Yet Tommy seems hugely content to be back fishing and very happy to answer the tourists’ questions – exchanging quips with a Canadian over whose lobsters are the largest. The visitors have to step over the ropes and a skipping joke is repeated many times. I notice the fishermen are incredibly patient acting as though they’ve heard the joke for the first time.
They are patient with my questions too. They get a brief respite as I climb back up the cobbled streets to fetch new recorder batteries. (You can pay for a lift up the hill by landrover – but somehow that would be cheating.) I am unimpressed that I’d forgotten the batteries, but very impressed to find them in the fudge shop, inside the Charles Kingsley museum - a reminder that Clovelly is not just about the harbour. Even the donkeys are out on their daily stroll, down down-along street, cheekily snatching greenery from the gardens. I can’t help thinking though, that in the days when everyone’s livelihood depended on catching herring in those flimsy boats – all eyes must have been drawn to centre stage: the sea and the harbour.
After a crab sandwich from (the third Perham brother) Barry’s seafood shack, I catch up with John as he deftly strings eighteen pots together with bright blue rope. Born in Cromer into a fishing family, he discovered North Devon while working as a relief coxswain on the Appledore lifeboat. He decided “it’s not a bad part of the world to make a living” and about ten years ago bought a cottage in Northam. Lobsters grow by moulting their hard outer shell and when she is soft-shelled as John put it, “the male takes full advantage”. Then the females known as ‘berried hens’ (because their eggs look like thousands of tiny berries) carry them packed tightly on their abdomen for nine months or more, before they shed them the following Spring.
John spoke of the baby lobsters from the lobster hatchery he helped release and the reserve local fishermen protected voluntarily from Clovelly around to Bucks Mills. There is talk of closing this area again as a shellfish nursery, he tells me. “If it’s managed by fishermen for fishermen it’s much more likely to work. No genuine fisherman is going to take everything out on the first day because there’ll be nothing for the rest of the week. And fishermen especially down this part of the world have a good track record in closing off their own areas.” This is true with the Trevose box off Padstow, the ray box off the North Devon coast and the marine conservation zone around Lundy, all seasonal or permanent ‘no take zones’ supported or instigated by local fishermen. ‘Managing sustainable fishing by fishermen for fishermen’ is a refrain I keep hearing. There are lots of different groups interested in fisheries management and conservation and in North Devon they’ve a good reputation for meeting and working together. With the common fisheries policy agreeing to decentralise decision making, even the legislation appears to be supporting more local management. I will blog this one day when I get my head around the complexities and know a bit more what I’m talking about!
Stephen and Peter arrive back in the picarooner. “Find anything?” I call across the water. A few fishermen sell lobsters and crabs to local restaurants or private clients but around 95% of the shellfish catch heads straight to Cornwall to be processed (there is no local processor). The Clovelly potters would love to sell more of their catch locally – if you’re lucky enough to time it right ask them what they’ve caught – or call to negotiate a meeting point or delivery. Call John on 07810 561656.
The only other working fishing boat in harbour is BD310, “Jordan and Joe Rossi’s boat.” As Stephen says “there aren’t many fishermen left here now.” The few other vessels afloat on the rising tide are charter boats. The Independent is ready to take people out fishing or to Lundy. Boat Stories will write about our trip on the Jessica Hettie - once she’s back in the water. Meanwhile, I notice the Neptune is still half-painted. Stephen promises she’ll be ready for the Whitsun holiday towards the end of May. I fully recommend the fifteen minute trip round the bay: as you look back at the village, Stephen tells historical tales of the goings on in each cottage. He’s lived in several of them himself.
As for my favourite fish: they should arrive in late autumn – but they like to keep everyone guessing. Later in the year Boat Stories hopes to film their story and will remind you when to start pestering your local fishmonger or restaurant - asking if they have any Clovelly herrings.
As promised the minute we got the funding go-ahead from Northern Devon FLAG we hit the ground running. Amanda Mc Cormack got the website www.boatstories.co.uk facebook and twitter up and running in record time before the Easter holidays. Jo went to the quays and harbours catching up with skippers and crew she has worked with before, meeting new people, writing content for the website and researching stories we could make into films.
Boat Stories has met with over a dozen working or ex fishermen and women so far. We’ve learned about some of the fish and seafood living out there in the mud or sandbanks, like the fact that if a turbot (a large flatfish) is upside down it can apparently use its ‘prickles to flip up in the air and right itself’. Or that salmon entering the Taw and Torridge estuary are sometimes swimming so hard to beat the currents that ‘they find themselves several miles up the wrong river and have to turn around and start again’. We’re beginning to learn what’s special and different about Northern Devon fisheries and fishing and have spoken to those whose knowledge of local currents and hazards and the notorious Bideford Bar will hopefully be passed on. We’re looking forward to meeting more skippers and we’ve noticed how busy they are because we’ve learned to follow our local fleet via the marine traffic website (something for a blog one day- http://www.boatstories.co.uk/news.html). Many fishermen are out at sea now, as I write, working right through the Easter holiday weekend.
We’ve spoken to other working boat owners, harbour masters and those who volunteer for the RNLI or run ferries or charter boats. We’ve talked to fishmongers and a few restaurants: those who are selling locally landed fish (see fish page on website) and others who would like to. We’ve met people in various stages of running or setting up businesses to sell and cook local seafood and we will keep in touch with them on the ups and downs of their journey. We’ve spoken to organisations and individuals whose job is to manage the rivers, estuary, inshore and offshore waters.
We’ve met with local filmmakers and are grateful for their support and enthusiasm for this young, exciting low-budget project. We’ve also tried to follow up with most people who have contacted us. Many people have wonderful tales from times when owning a boat and fishing was the way of life and we want to document these before they are lost. We are also keen to tell contemporary stories of life on the water as it is now. You may not think your story is interesting because it’s your day to day living, but Boat Stories would love to hear from you – please get in touch.
Starting nearly two months later than planned means we haven’t been able to approach everyone we’d like to – before they go into their busy season. We haven’t caught up with all the skippers, charter boats, restaurants, cafés or pubs, nor looked into heritage boats. As the seasons progress we hope to learn more about different kinds of sustainable fishing, the supply chains and recipes. While the research continues we’ve had to prioritise the seasonal films we need to make now, before we lose the opportunity. The good news is we have found lots of stories which we think will make great short films. We have funding for six but would like to make a series of twelve so if anyone has any funding tips or ideas, please get in touch! Meanwhile planning is underway for our first three stories to begin filming in May. They are three very different films - to be shot in three very different areas. Each needs several elements to come into place – especially fair weather on the right tides.
Wish us luck and we’ll keep you posted.
The ferry which runs from Appledore Quay to Instow Quay begins sailing on Monday 7th April. The fleet will be blessed at Appledore (opposite John’s deli) and the primary school children will sing a ferry song and launch a biodegradable artistic creation. Around 11.30 Instow pupils’ voices will echo back across the water as they launch their own sculpture. The service runs, back n forth, on the high tides between 0930h and sunset. The ferry is run and managed by volunteers on a 'not for profit' basis. This first run is not open to the public –but you are welcome to go and watch the ceremony. Boat Stories will catch the ferry sometime soon and report back. Remember it can only run when there is water in the estuary!
Ferry times on http://www.appledoreinstowferry.com/timetable-fares/timetable.html
Boat Stories Blog
All the latest news and stories from Jo Stewart-Smith, Boat Stories Producer