Stephen Elsworth Chapter 9
I was born and bred in Burton Bradstock, so I’ve been by the sea all my life. I started fishing from the beach with my Dad when I was four or five years old. When I was about eight or nine, I was regularly lowered over the edge of the cliff by my brother, to collect seagull eggs. I would have a bit of rope round my waist but I never used to worry about the danger. We rarely ate the seagull eggs ourselves. We used to sell them. The cliffs were different then. They were covered in ledges about 18 inches apart. Now though, they’re all smooth. I wouldn’t do it now. No chance. When I was twenty, I started working on the trawlers. I gave it up, but still went out with Pete Newton during the holidays, on his boat. I learnt a lot from Pete. I bought the boat that I’ve got now, 11 years ago. In the first year, I didn’t have to do much to it, but in the second year I did, because it sank in the harbour. And that cost me a lot of money. Luckily, my in-laws helped me out, or I wouldn’t still be fishing. When I first had the boat, I used to go out in all weathers. I sometimes used to think to myself, “What are you doing?! Why are you out here?!” because my boat’s not the biggest. But nowadays, my missus says to me, “I’d rather you came home. What’s the point of risking it just for a few quid?” I’ll drive down to the Bay and look at the sea and if it’s rough, I’ll just go home. I’ve got one company that takes every lobster I catch and all the medium and large crab. It all goes to the Hive café. To be honest, if it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t still be fishing because they pay me top end. They’re all about local, sustainable fishing. I turn up there at 11 o clock in the morning with a basket of fresh crab and all the holiday makers are like, “Ooo. Can we have a photo?” It’s a great PR stunt isn’t it! But, you know, I really enjoy it! I think you have to be naturally savvy to be a fisherman. It’s easy to spend a lot of money getting other people to do work on your boat. I do all the work myself. I do all the servicing. If I got someone else to do it, it would cost me three hundred quid. I can do it myself for seventy pounds. In this job, you have to have your wits about you all the time. You can’t switch off. But I like to be on my own. I’ve got my own routine. I haven’t got a wheelhouse full of electronics. I’ve got the basics and that’s it. I don’t see the point in having all these sonars. I’ve got a chart plotter which shows me where I am and that’s all I need.