Watery Reflections: Part 3
To tell you my story from the start, we will have to backtrack a bit on Dad's story and join him with the Deva as I mentioned before I have several fond memories aboard this boat. As I grow older, they become a little hazier, but those of seeing her steam back along the beach surrounded by gulls will stay with me forever. Times may have changed a bit, but even now when you see a boat being followed by flocks of gulls you naturally assume they have had a bountiful day.
I am grateful, not only to my Dad for providing the spectacle but also to my Mum for letting me witness it. As far as I can remember, I always wanted to go fishing. I don't mean as a living but just fishing, anywhere. I have and would again, particularly right now, fish any available bit of water. I have fished in bits of water you could almost step across. I've spent hours catching sticklebacks and flounders from dykes and minnows from flooded streams, give me a bit of water, and I want to try and catch a fish from it. I was no different as a child, and no doubt gave Mum and Dad plenty of grief for it.
I can remember pestering to go wrecking with Dad when I was too young. I was allowed on the boat and allowed to fish as I got big enough actually to handle a rod. I'm sure I ruined several anglers plans of child-free days charter boat fishing. I can remember fishing more on the Silver Lady, by this time I was just about big enough to handle a rod and even peek over the gunwale. Eventually, I was allowed on a trip offshore. I can't remember if it was wrecking, or even what we caught. I do remember it was flat calm, and when we got a long way out, Dad stopped the boat to show me how clear it was and that we could almost see the bottom. This must have captured my imagination for me to remember it so vividly. It was probably the first time I had seen such clear water as everything close inshore in the Thames estuary is usually clouded with silt.
Another trip I can remember is an evening/night trip I went on. I won the whip on the boat for the biggest fish but refused to accept it as I was convinced it was a fix! Now I know it was very likely my natural angling talent shining through! I don't remember who was onboard so please enlighten me if it was you.
Looking back, we were lucky not only to have a father and grandfather who not only enjoyed angling but were happy to share it with us. I could recall endless stories of our fishing trips, both fresh water and sea fishing. It's a wonder Dad has a single hair left on his head after loading the car up with enough tackle for me, my two brothers and very often my grandad as well his own!
One occasion, I am very often reminded of was from when I was quite young. We were fresh water fishing and using maggots for bait. It was a chilly winters day, and I had a parker coat on. I don't remember what we were fishing for, but we were getting through bait quite quickly. Dad asked if I needed any more bait as it had been a while since I changed it. A said 'no it's alright I've got some in my pocket thanks'. This clever use of initiative wasn't met with the praise I had expected. As I remember when we got home, Mum wasn't too keen to hear I had a pocketful of maggots either.
I don't remember when the Silver Lady went really. As I mentioned in an earlier instalment, we had a couple of trips out on Derek Mole's commercial boat the Talon, although a much later version than the one pictured the other day. We had one trip in the Blackwater Estuary with good numbers of codling and one trip further out as far as I remember. Probably the wallet with the odd roker or cod. Dave Weaving also took me on the Jenna D, which at that time was a Bullet 38. This was for a local charity competition called the Golden Cod, and I don't remember what I caught, I was with Dad's friend Adrian, known as uncle Adrian - everybody is an uncle this or auntie that when you're young. I remember uncle Adrian had a sea scorpion of some sort which he took back in a bucket for the weigh-in.
In these years between boats, we did lots of fresh water fishing. Dad was in a small syndicate that fished a couple of farmers reservoirs. They were stuffed with carp and roach/rudd along with the odd pike. We were genuinely spoiled fishing here as they would still produce at any time of year provided they weren't iced over. The water was about 30ft deep in the middle, so the temperature was reasonably stable in the winter and come summer they were drained to just 3ft or so deep. I have seen carp literally climbing up the banks after ground bait spilt at our feet; they were that ravenous and densely stocked. We pestered Dad into a trip here night fishing, and he eventually gave in. I was a little older, so I was allowed to fish all night, but my two younger brothers had to pack their rods away and sleep. The next morning came and 50 odd carp later I was knackered. When we got back to Dad's, apparently I climbed into bed and pronounced that 'I never want to go fishing again' and promptly slept for the next day and a bit.
In part.2 I mentioned how we came to view and then buy the Starfish 8 we re-named the Razorbill, it was barely more than two years between the Silver Lady going to Belgium and the purchase of Razorbill but that time seemed like an age to my younger self. It was only when we started looking through pictures and dates the other week that I realised it was just two years. Very shortly after this, my brothers and I were to purchase our first boat. I had dreams of getting my own boat for a while beforehand, but finances were a little tight as I was still at primary school!
By now Mum had moved to Lawford, just outside Manningtree. Her house was a short walk from the top of the tidal Stour across a road, through a folly and over the sea wall. I had ideas of getting a little boat and mooring it there so I could head off wrecking. We dreamed of lots of little boats, various things with inboards or no inherent buoyancy but at the right price. As it happened, Dad heard that one of the local lads was selling his Orkney Longliner, Boy Lew, which he had used for gillnetting and we could buy it without an engine for £550. Between the 3 of us, we scrapped our savings, emptied our piggy banks sold a kidney or two and bought her. Without an engine though, we were going nowhere. This is where our lovely Nan and Grandad helped us out and offered to get one. For our combined birthday, Christmas, the tooth fairy and whatever money, they bought an old two-stroke Evinrude 7 hp from one of my many godparents Richard Parkinson. The shaft was a bit too short, and it made a right racket as we steamed around, but it got us along for a couple of years.
We looked into mooring the Boy Lew at Manningtree but she would have been afloat for just a short amount of each tide and to be honest Mersea offered better fishing. I was 11 when we bought her and the oldest out of the 3 of us and when I look at 11year olds now I find it frightening to be honest. We learnt quickly and managed not to kill ourselves or each other. There was always somebody around keeping an eye on us. The Orkney turned out to be our biggest asset to be honest. In all of the time we owned her I never felt unsafe and I can't think of a better 16ft boat. Now between the Razorbill and the Boy Lew we would enjoy making happy family memories.
Keep an eye out for part. 4 in the next couple of days.