Skipper John Walsh and his experienced crew have quickly settled into their well-established pattern of working hake and trammel nets over runs of neap tides, before taking a few days in harbour when stronger spring tides are running, report Quentin Bates and David Linkie.
Amanda of Ladram PW 6 berthed at Newlyn for the first time towards the end of April, following a 400-mile delivery trip from Whitby, where the netter was built by Parkol Marine Engineering. Two days later, after pulling on their fishing gear on a Monday morning, skipper John Walsh and his crew sailed for the grounds to the last five days of small tides, before the onset of big springs kept them in port for a week.
Since then, Amanda of Ladram is reported to have performed well on a succession of trips.
In keeping with tradition, the first box of fish landed by the new vessel was auctioned for charity, raising £550 for Brixham Mission when it was bought on Brixham market by Greendale Farm Shop, a partner company within the group that owns Waterdance.
The buying price was matched by a donation from Brixham Trawler Agents, in addition to a donation by Parkol.
As the first new netter of this size to be built for the UK in nearly 20 years, Amanda of Ladram’s arrival in the South West, which included a whistle-stop call at Brixham on the Friday evening before arriving at Newlyn early on Saturday morning, understandably generated as much interest as Covid-19 regulations permitted.
While incorporating the latest hull, propulsion fishing and catch care technologies, Amanda of Ladram was designed and built to replicate the fishing patterns and capabilities of two previous converted netters with a combined age of 54 years that John Walsh and his crew have worked for Waterdance.
Although Amanda of Ladram was ordered just a few days before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold last March, and construction began shortly before the first lockdown in 2020, the netter was launched and handed over on time. This notable feat was achieved by means of Parkol introducing new shift patterns, in order to minimise the number of men working on the boat at any one time, and strict hygiene measures in line with government requirements.
“It was a challenge to keep on track over the past year, but thanks to the hard work of our team here, we were able to deliver on time,” said Parkol director Sally Atkinson.
Waterdance head of fisheries Martyn Youell said: “We’re very pleased with the build, the project management and the speed of delivery,” adding that Amanda of Ladram joining the fleet is part of a broader theme of strengthening the company’s activities in Newlyn.
“Brixham is the principal hub of Waterdance’s activity, but Newlyn is becoming increasingly important with greater activity from our fleet in 2021.
“We’ll also soon have a new building in Newlyn to support the shore side of the business,” he added.
Photographs by Ceri Oakes, Larry Hartwell, Alexander Sorlie-Stirling and Alan Letcher