Monday, December 21, 2009

Trawlers in the outer harbour

When we first moved to Whitby in 1986, folk used to tell us of the days when you could cross the inner Esk harbour by jumping from boat to boat. Those were the long-gone days of the Scottish and other herring fleets.

A couple of years ago there were a dozen trawlers here and the port was reviving a little, despite a drop in the value of fish landed. Parkol Marine launched its biggest boat ever and Locker Trawlers were investing in new vessels.

Despite technological advances, deep sea fishing remains a hazardous occupation, so next time you are enjoying your cod and chips, spare a thought for "those in peril on the sea." For various versions of The Navy Hymn, as it is sometimes called, and some notable uses, see here; there is also an audio file of the John Bacchus Dykes tune "Melita", to which it is usually set. The hymn has enormous emotional power, and that, to my mind, is its great weakness; it does not express the call to thankful conversion found in Psalm 107, on which it is partly based.

Above the harbour, on the West Cliff, is the Shearings Royal Hotel. The last time we were referred to as "that young couple" was on a Shearings break to Dunblane in our mid-40s, so the dreaded coach experience had at least that advantage - and the Trossachs were lovely. That reference to our northern neighbour closes the circle. For more on the Scottish and other herring fleets, call in at the Black Horse. For a detailed photographic account of the building of  the Locker trawler, "Our Lass II," visit this Parkol Marine page - fascinating, even for non-technical readers.

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