How I got into Chartering: Part 2
As you will remember from part one, the Silver Lady had been sold, and we pick up the story from there.
Dad was once again without a boat and now working on a building site. He had been gradually working his way up from a site labourer in between running trips on the boat. Over the next couple of year’s he was ‘boat-less’ this meant more time spent by all of us coarse fishing. On the odd occasion, we were able to get out fishing with Derek Mole aboard his fishing boat and once Dave Weaving kindly took me out on the Jenna D for the golden cod competition. Just a few short years later, dad found himself once again in the position to buy a boat.
I must admit to me at the time it seemed like an eternity, but looking back, it was only 2-3years. Mum and dad were now divorced, and mum was living near Manningtree. As dad would drive us between Manningtree and Mersea, we would cross a bridge over the Colne at the Hythe on Colchester. Each time going over the bridge, we used to look across at an 8-meter starfish, which sat unused and on the mud for most of the tide. We would often comment on her being a nice little boat and how she didn’t seem to get any use. Dad put a note on her asking if the owner wished to sell her. A short while later, the owner got in touch, and it wasn’t long before he had a boat again.
This time dad had no intention of chartering. He had the boat full with just him, grandad and us three boys on board. The Starfish was named Bluebell, and this was not going to stay! Us three boys were very much co-owners of this boat, that is in every way besides running costs, maintenance or anything that couldn’t be deemed ‘fun’. We all sat around and very likely after much bickering chose the name Razorbill. The Razorbill went through many changes under our ownership. She wasn’t fast, but it didn’t matter too much as we used her as a private vessel for several years. We made many a great memory with family and friends aboard her, and she served us well. Eventually, the speed improved with a couple of engine changes. She was making 25knt flat, cruising at 16-18knts and inevitably licenced for charter fishing.
By now us boys had grown up and started getting our own boats. I had spent many days and hours on this boat with my grandad Stan, or Flash as I often affectionately called him when I found out his nickname in the war. I had also taken both mine and my dad’s friends fishing while he was at work during the school holidays. By the time I was 17 I am told I had a wealth of experience, for my age, and many hours under my belt so at 17 I got my offshore yacht masters just as dad got the boat licenced for charters. I will tell you more about my story later, but for now, I will bring you up to date with Dads story.
When I would let him get a look in, Dad was working his way back into chartering. Shortly after the Razorbill was licenced, he and I bought another boat together and licenced her as well; this was the first Galloper. By now, dad was working towards chartering again. At a different time of life and with a bit more security, it was a realistic option where he could semi-retire and work the boat just a few days a week without having to worry. The Starfish was a great little boat, she did very well for 26ft, but they are wet, and it was tight even with six anglers on board. The best way to make it work would be to get a bigger boat again. Around this time, one of dad’s friends told him about their boss who had taken an Aquastar in part exchange for his boat and wanted to sell it if dad was interested. We went to view her, and with a 300hp ford, she went well. She had just undergone a major re-fit, and dad was able to buy her at half the price of the re-fit! Both the Razorbill and the Galloper were sold shortly after. Dad re-named this Aquastar, formerly ‘Celtic Dolphin, the Razorbill ǁ and I bought my own Aquastar shortly after and stuck with the name Galloper.
The Razorbill ǁ had been fitted out more as a gentleman’s cruiser. She had an extended wheelhouse up to the engine hatch, a bow thruster and even derricks on the stern to pull a small dingy up onboard. Dad didn’t have to make too many changes to her for licencing, though. He ran this one for a few years before another Aquastar came up for sale in Yarmouth. Once again, we had looked down on this boat on her berth in Yarmouth a couple of times. She was initially Private Venture and then Southern Star which was both well-known boats in the Solent. She had a rough time at Yarmouth. As a mark of this, when he bought her, she had stainless steel griddles bolted over all of the windows! Dad was able to purchase this at a reasonable price. This boat was a better boat for charter. She has higher decks so no engine box in the way, seating at the stern, a shorter wheelhouse and more deck room as well as being built like the proverbial brick toilet. He still has this boat today, and it has served him well, it’s nice to fish off and heavily built enough to lay alongside the ship Ross Revenge.
Dad is 67 now, that’s 47 years chartering, give or take the odd break, he is undoubtedly one of the longest-serving licenced skippers in the area and maybe the country!
Not too bad for a lad from a council house in Upminster. Longevity doesn’t mean he is the best in the world, perhaps just the maddest, but if you want a day’s fishing or you used to fish with him and want to catch up then call him on 07850234077.
Meanwhile, keep an eye out for the next part where I will bring you up to date with my history of boats.
In the meantime feel free to get in touch with me, Scott Belbin, if you wish to plan future trips, discuss existing bookings or talk about fishing on 07956411528