Ted Hook Chapter 5
I was 14, I reckon, when I started commercial fishing. I’m 29 now. I was always into fishing, with rods, when I was a kid and then when I was 13, 14, I started going out on the fishing boats, just chopping bait and stuff. At 16, I bought my first boat, from money I earned working on the boats and winkle picking. I bought a license for the boat, did it up, it was a bit of a wreck and went whelk fishing in a place called Saundersfoot in West Wales. I went through three or four different boats there. It was good at first, but then the boom went there and so I came down here to West Bay when I was 20. I met my missus here. There are not many rules and regulations for the kind of fishing I do, which is whelks, crabs and lobsters and it’s a good close knit fishing community here. It’s a nice harbour to get in and out of. You can just come and go as you please. To start off, I bought Jack’s boat, Aquarius, off him and his mooring, when he gave up because of all the red tape. He was a Sole fisherman but he couldn’t make a living out of it anymore. Well, to make a living out of it, he would have had to have broken the law, which you shouldn’t have to do. He was one of the few who actually owned his mooring. So that was a good investment. Because the whelk fishing off here is pretty good, you get quite a lot of visiting boats, so if I wanted to sell the mooring, I could sell that tomorrow for good money. I’ve got a new boat now. It’s safer and we’ve got more comfort. We’ve actually got seats in the wheelhouse. You get to have a cup of tea. We’re about two hours faster a day when we’re whelking which is our main thing. It’s also more stable. The other day, we had about 200 whelk pots on it. With the old boat we wouldn’t have dreamed of doing that. You have to persist with fishing. When I first started, my friend’s dad (who’s boat I started on) said to me, “The one thing to do is just keep on with it. You’ll get some real crap times and that’s when most people give up. But keep on with it.” And that’s what I do. The start of this year was almost my lowest. I was almost at the point of giving up. “Fuck it, let’s jack it in.” My engine went bang, so I had no income for three months. If I had had to pay someone to mend my engine, I would have gone under, but I’m lucky I can do things myself. My colleague is good too. He’s picked up a lot of stuff, like fibre-glassing. He’s really good. The best crew I think I’ve ever had. I cannot fault the bloke. He’s there all the time. He’s like me. He just wants to work and earn money and keep himself to himself. That’s what I want to do. I just want a peaceful life. I don’t want the harbour politics and all that agro. I just want to go to sea and go fishing. I just try and keep myself to myself and plod on.