Cawsand Bay PH 360

The well-known southwest vivier-crabber Cawsand Bay PH 360 was built in 1981 by the renowned French boat-builder Albert Peron, at his yard in Camaret in Brittany.

Commissioned by joint owners Tony Jago and Mike Henwood, based at the namesake small Cornish village of Cawsand near Plymouth, Cawsand Bay was built to replace a similar (albeit slightly smaller at 40 feet long) wooden crabber called Camaret PH 144, which had also been built by the Peron yard in 1974.

At 62ft long and with a beam of 21ft and a draught of 10ft, Cawsand Bay was one of the biggest crabbers of her day. She was the last of three similarly dimensioned UK flagged crabbers built by Albert Peron, the other two being Fleur De France J 86 and Paulanda J 42, with Cawsand Bay having slightly more free-board than the other two boats.

The elegant crabber boasted a large pumped vivier tank that held 32t of sea water and 15t of crab. Pumped vivier tanks were then in their infancy and enabled boats to land their catches whilst afloat, whereas older boats with a so-called ‘open vivier’ had to go aground and dry out to allow the water in their tanks to drain down through holes in their bilges.

She was powered by a 224kW Baudouin DF12 main engine with a Gardner 6LXB auxiliary engine looking after hydraulic and electrical duties.

Cawsand Bay got off to a slow start after suffering a series of teething troubles including mechanical and hydraulic problems, and an unfortunate wheelhouse fire.

Once she had settled down, the boat fished the mid-channel grounds from Dartmouth under local skipper Terry Atkins and his crew, using 600 inkwell pots hauled by a 1.5t Celtic Slave hauler.

As well as working her local grounds, Cawsand Bay also ventured into the eastern channel and fished off Wales and Scotland where her ability to carry a full set of gear between ground was put to good use. Her large vivier tank capacity allowed her to fish extended ten-day trips and land into markets paying the best prices for her catch.

In March, 1984, after completing a refit that included the fitting of a new main engine under warranty, Cawsand Bay sailed to Guernsey to collect more potting gear before sailing for Oban under her new skipper Hugh Allen.

It was during this passage that the boat was in collision with the Panamanian-registered cargo vessel Mare Pride, in thick fog 15 miles southwest of the Smalls lighthouse off Milford Haven.

Four of Cawsand Bay’s crew were picked up by the coaster and transferred to hospital in Haverfordwest by helicopter, but sadly one crewman, Leycester John Paige, was lost.

All Cameret-built wooden vivier-crabbers were renowned for their sea-keeping ability and good looks, although Cawsand Bay was widely regarded among crab fishermen as one of the best built by Albert Peron. It is quite ironic that such an undoubtedly capable boat was dogged with such bad luck during her short life, and sank when she was less than three years old. Martin Johns

Craigmillar A 303

Craigmillar was one of five pocket trawlers built by the Fairmile Construction Company Ltd at Berwick in 1959, for Aberdeen owners George Robb and Bon Accord Mutual Ships Stores Ltd. The other four sister vessels were Craigievar A304, Craigielea A320, Craigellen A321, and Craighall A322.

Craigmillar was one of a succession of boats built to the ‘Fair Isle Class’ – a new design of trawler, the first of which, Coral Isle SN 22, was built at Berwick in 1956 for North Shields fish merchants J Rutherford.

The immediate, successful performance achieved by Coral Isle led to Janet Helen L 93 being side-launched into the river Tweed in 1957, followed by another five in 1958, Summer Isle LH69, Mary Croan LH 225, Monica Croan LH 231, Starbank LH 249, and Silver Viking A287 for Joe Croan Ltd and William Liston Ltd; and six in 1959.

Coinciding with the time when Russia launched the first satellite into space, Sputnik 1, the Fair Isle class of vessels were quickly given the nickname of Sputniks.

Craigmillar was powered by a 197kW Lister Blackstone EVSM4 engine and featured a trawl winch mounted fore and aft along the vessel’s centreline forward of the wheelhouse.
After trawling from Aberdeen for 20 years, Craigmillar moved to Fleetwood in 1979, where the trawler was re-registered BA 303 by David Holt.

Later owned in Fleetwood by David Rainford, Craigmillar was decommissioned in 1998, when the trawler was owned by Chris Neve.

Crusader DH 71

Crusader was the last and biggest of four similar Gary Mitchell-designed crabbers built for the well-known Paignton-based Browse Brothers company, over a period of 10 years. During this time, the company replaced its smaller inshore vessels with boats more suited to fishing the recently opened up mid-channel grounds, as well as rich potting ground discovered south of the Isle of Wight.

Following on from Concord DH 84, Excel DH 71 and KMB DH 61 built in 1966, 1971 and 1973 respectively, Crusader was slightly longer than her predecessors at 56ft, with a generous beam of 18ft and a draught of 7 feet 6 inches.

The final boat in the quartet, Crusader DH 71, was built by J Hinks & Son at Appledore in North Devon and was completed in September, 1976.

These four boats were the super-crabbers of their era, being much bigger than most local shellfish boats at the time.

Built with oak frames and Iroko planking, Crusader also incorporated a considerable amount of steelwork in her hull to comply with the latest Department for Transport (DfT) regulations. The boat was powered by a 171kW Gardner 8L3B main engine with a Twin Disc 3:1 gearbox. A Celtic Slave pot hauler was fitted forward on the starboard side.

Crusader operated as a day boat from Kingswear on the river Dartmouth, working on the mid-channel grounds under the command of skipper Mike Dornom. Her catches of cock crab were stored in deck tanks located around the stern until it was landed weekly with hen crab, being landed daily to local processors.

In July, 1978, a subtle change was made to her name when she acquired the suffix ‘of Kingswear’ when changes to her registry were also made.

After many years working in the channel, Crusader of Kingswear moved to the Irish Sea, working mainly from Whitehaven and Girvan to take advantage of productive whelk grounds in the area.

After a lengthy period laid up for sale in Girvan, the boat was subsequently sold to Fleetwood company B and M Fishing in 2012 who continued to operate her as a whelker in the Irish Sea working from Fleetwood. The company reverted her name back to Crusader and registered her as FD 71.

Early in 2016, Crusader moved further south down the Irish Sea to Milford Haven after being sold to Tim Bowman-Davies who registered the potter as M 71. He is operating her from the port as a whelk potter. Martin Johns

Read more in our fishing nostalgia section.

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