All posts by Gavin Atkin

Brixham fisherman Walter Barnes recites The Fisherman’s Alphabet, 1943

Fishermans Alphabet


Seagull for sale

Ian Standingford has been in touch to say that there’s an Essex-built example of the American-designed Seagull design up for sale on Apollo Duck.

Here’s what he says about it:

‘Hi Gavin,
‘Browsing on “Apollo Duck” I see there is one such for sale.
‘Boy Martin¬†is well known in the Benfleet and Leigh area and seems to be in nice order… I would be tempted to buy her myself but have others to look after!
‘I note she was built by Leslie Warland, whose yard was on Leigh marshes, near the bridge over to Two Tree island.
‘As a lad in the 1960s, I loved to wander around this ramshackle place, which was home to several barges…one I think was called Edith & Hilda, and there was also a Dutchman or two, and many yachts of all descriptions in various stages of decay. No trace remains now. Does anyone else remember it?
‘Best wishes, Ian’
Thanks Ian!

Foula fishing superstitions

In “ancient times” fishermen had to beware of meeting the bad foot [unlucky person] on their way to sea. According to Robbie Isbister, that is nowadays rightly dismissed as superstition.

We’re not told here who has the ‘bad foot’, but sailors’ superstitions generally tend to focus on people with flat feet or red hair. (That’s me and much of my family in trouble then… )

Also, among Foula fishermen certain taboo things were not to be referred to by their normal names at sea and had special sea names instead, eg:

  • yongers [horse]
  • scaffin (or fittin) [cat]
  • klibna [tongs],
  • blethers [sheep]
  • hyuncie [hen]
  • tounskerrie [cock]
  • rakki [dog]
  • cunning [rabbit]