In North Cornwall, the fit-out of an enviable K26 is close to completion

By Phil Lockley

At the yard of H Baumbach & Son at Hayle in North Cornwall, one of the most advanced Kingfisher K26 static-gear boats I’ve ever seen is being fitted out.

The fit-out of the original, very successful Beryl M became a template for much of that on the new K26.

I reviewed Ben Eglinton’s present boat, the Holton 24 potter/netter Beryl M SS 8, in April 2018. It was acquired from a skipper in Belgium, and since it was a towing boat, it required a major rebuild to meet the requirements of Ben’s fisheries – potting, netting and line fishing. With his father – fisherman and boatbuilder Gary Eglinton – he stripped the Beryl M to its bare hull to become an aft-wheelhouse single-hander.

A couple of successful years on static gear went by, triggering plans for a replacement craft – one that Ben describes as ‘a boat for life’. The name and number of the Holton 24 have now been moved to his new K26. With the fit-out now almost complete, the vessel went into the water last week.

While the style of fit-out is similar to his previous boat, a number of minor changes have been made to improve the K26’s efficiency. Safety is also a prime requirement in the layout, and Ben regarded having an aft wheelhouse as essential. “I wouldn’t consider having a forward-wheelhouse boat,” he told me. “I don’t want to keep looking back to see what’s going on when shooting gear. I’ve worked on many fishing boats with a forward wheelhouse, and it’s just not right for me.”

During early stages of the build, Ben Eglinton took the decision to use a gunwale roller than a davit arm.

I asked Ben why he went for a boat measuring just 26ft in length, when the costings on a new build of something like a K33 are not a world away from that of his high-spec K26. Ben replied: “Going to a boat of 33ft in length wouldn’t be the best choice for the sort of work I do. It would bring me into the ‘big boat syndrome’ where you need more gear – more of everything, including the vessel’s upkeep. A K26 is sufficient for what I want.

“The standard of build is down to Alan Baumbach and local boatbuilder Mike Iles. So far, the MCA has been helpful in order for the boat to meet current regulations – several MCA inspectors have attended, and at other times surveyors from the Society of Consulting Marine Engineers and Ship Surveyors were involved. They were equally helpful.”

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