Monday, 15 February 2010
Once the Wanderer was up and running with all the trials out of the way it wasn't long until we started breaking the port record time and time again, so much was her catching power. The experience of the crew, also contributed to the feat, because without a good crew, no matter how efficient the boat and skipper is you will not have success.
The local paper "Ayrshire Post" wanted to do a feature about the fishing fleet that worked out of Ayr, so who better to sail with for all the information they needed but the top earner of the port.
We were sailing at midnight during the summer hake fishing,so the Ayrshire Post editor sent a reporter and a photographer out with us for a two day trip to get enough information to fill the centre pages.
Sure enough right from the first haul coming aboard it was obvious that there were plenty fish to be had, and with just a gentle breeze blowing, the boat was only rolling about slightly, but not slightly enough for the photographer.
As soon as the breakfast was dished out and he entered the galley, he immediately turned around and was seasick over the side, which brought back memories of my first day on the Olive Tree, only I had been out in a force ten gale, this was just a breeze, but the motion affects people in different ways, so I did have some sympathy for him.
As the day went on he felt better and began taking photos of the crew, trying to relate the photos to the story the reporter was writing which helped to take his mind off the slight pitching of the boat.
We had a bit more fun with him when a Gannet hit the mast and landed on the deck when we took it over to him and told him to take a photo of it, and with the Gannet's beak snapping away he took off into the galley dropping his expensive camera among the fish he was about to photograph, giving us a good laugh at his antics.
The reporter, photographer, and camera survived managing to do a good job and two weeks later our stories and photographs were plastered across the middle pages as promised.
It surprised me somewhat just how many people who knew me had read the story, and approached me about the spread, the following weekend when I was ashore.
An old headmaster who I hadn't laid eyes on since my primary school days spied me and stopped to talk, asking all sorts of questions about the story and my job, telling me how proud he was of me, tackling such a tough job, and being so successful at it.
He had also come from a fishing background, but chose to teach, and never knew I had a similar background, and salt water flowing through my veins until he read the story.
That was just one example of what happens when you get your fifteen minutes of local fame, I seemed to bump into people who I had not seen for years, and of course a conversation would start about the newspaper article.
National fame beckoned,(or so we thought) during the winter when a TV station was making a serial which needed filming done at one of the main trawling ports, with a good catch being landed, one of their main priorities, to make it realistic.
Ayr not being a trawler port as such, made do, being closest to their studios, and with us landing that night they were guaranteed to get the large catch they needed to make it look as if it was filmed at a port like Aberdeen.
Word reached us over the radio, before we entered the harbour that they were there and wanting to film us coming in, our catch being landed while two actors walked past talking to each other.
Then the next scene was in the fish market where our fish lay spread out waiting to be sold, with us still running in adding more boxes.
All the filming of us consisted of the boat docking, "where the crew all posed" we weren't asked to but we did, weighing the fish and running into the market with the actors standing waiting to buy them, then even more filming of us when we were loading the empty boxes and ice aboard for our next trip.
We were at sea when the program reached the TV screens, so we made sure our partners recorded our acting debut for us to keep and show friends and relations in the years that were to come, something even more for my headmaster to be proud of, if he happened to watch it.
The first chance I got I put the tape in and settled down to watch, glass of Bacardi in one hand and my cigarettes at my side for the hour long program.
The scene where we entered the harbour came up quickly, but it wasn't the Wanderer that docked, it was another Ayr boat that was built of steel and looked more like the trawler they needed.
When the two actors walked past us it was filmed in a way that blocked us out, and even the market scenes showed no signs of our crew, only a few harbour workers and the salesmen.
The only fame I had from the filming was the large catch of hake waiting to be sold was all boxed and iced by me, and nobody but me and the crew would ever know.
Ach fame is not all it's cracked up to be, just think of the amount of times I would have got stopped in Ayr if they had shown us posing needlessly as we docked, and if the headmaster was content enough with the write up in the Ayrshire Post, then so was I.
(top photo) is a picture of me taken by the Ayrshire Post photographer after I had pushed about a dozen baskets out of the hold, then he asked me to pose with one. Hmmmmmmm.
(The next photo) is just to give you an idea of a fish market during sales.