Ray belongs to: The Fishermen's Mission
Ray was born in Sunderland into a fishing family. He has fished since the age of 3. He worked from North Shields and Grimsby. Ray is now retired and continues to fish in his leisure time.
Ray was interviewed by Carl Greenwood on 8 November 2005. The interview took place at North Shields Fishermen's Mission and lasted 54 minutes and 21 seconds.
Being caught in a hurricane on the Dogger Bank
"I was just lying reading a book, doors open, windows open, steaming along quite happy"
I was just lying reading a book, doors open, windows open, steaming along quite happy, you know. Well, not quite happy- we hadn’t caught any fish. And Cullercoats came on with a pan message, which is not a Mayday, but it’s the next one down. And I thought somebody must be in trouble, so I started to listen, which you do, you know. And he says, “we’ve got a severe weather warning for the Dogger Bank area,” and I went, “oh no, that’s where we are.” And he actually, it’s the first time and the only time in my life, I’ve actually heard a hurricane warning for anywhere in the North Sea- force 12 and upwards. There’s a low pressure forming, he gave the place out, it was somewhere on the Dogger Bank, anyway, I mean, that’s where I was, in a 60 foot boat. And he said the winds are expected to gust up to force 12 and possibly more, well, you know.
I thought, I looked out and it was just like it is now, if you look out the window there, you can see, brilliant sunshine, lovely blue sky- “that’ll not happen to us, we’ll be across the Dogger Bank, you know, before that hits.” So I just went back in my berth, left a man on watch, just reading my book, you know, as you do. And all of a sudden I thought, “what’s that? I’m sure I felt water on my face,” you know. “No, it can’t be.” And then a couple of seconds later some more. And I got up and I’ve never seen such a change. The sky had gone very dark, murky and the wind- the amount of wind there was, was horrendous. The spray was coming over the boat, so we shut all the windows, kept going at full speed and then within 20 minutes of us getting back up again after that first bit of spray, we were down to as slow as possible.
And the seas grew and grew, and I’ve never seen seas as big in the North Sea as what they were that night, bearing in mind we were only in ten fathom of water and that boat had a light on the foremast for navigational purposes which was about 30 foot above the deck, and I could see, in the dark, I could see the light reflecting back off the next wave coming towards us. I could see the reflection in the water, so the waves were over 30 foot high. And we would climb up on one, and down we’d go and literally we had a steel boom which the sail was attached to- the sail went in the first 20 minutes completely- there were just little shrouds of, it was like canvassy stuff. It was, I think it was a nylon sail we had- there was just little tatters hanging from the mast.
We had a sail boom that went from the foremast to the top of the wheel house which was, I’d say, about 18 to 20 foot long- that was bent like a U and that was about six inches thick, about that, and that just bent in a U. There was a big steel A- frame just in front of the wheelhouse, what we used to sit on- that was smashed level with the deck. The fish-room hatch started to get pulled off, the skylight in the cabin started to get ripped off the deck so we had to lash that down, lash the fish-room hatch and then we had a stove in the cabin and it had a pipe coming out, you know, for, for the fumes in the fire, the smoke and that- that got sheared off at deck level so we had to stick oils skins in there, put the fire out, so now we had no way getting, boiling a kettle or anything. So from, for the next eight hours the three of us were just stood in the wheelhouse and the same thing again- the life raft got washed off, halfway through, one of the nets that we had lashed down at the back of the wheelhouse, the lashings all got broke because there was that much water coming on the boat, that the net got washed under the after end and got fold in the steering gear, so now we’ve got no steering gear, we’re head on into a storm, panic stations.
Luckily I’m here today to talk about it. We managed to, what we done is we lifted the platform, there was a platform over the top of the steering gear, and we cleared the net out and then re-lashed it, well, if I remember right, we put it down the engine room out of the way and then locked the engine room out. And the next morning we saw a couple of trawlers, when the weather started to moderate, and we virtually just stood still and the two trawler skippers came on and asked us how we were and how we had survived that night in such shoal water. They had got off the shoal water but we had gone right across it. I said, “well, we’re..." I nearly swore there, "we were lucky.”
Ray has 17 memories in the memorynet:
Ray's memories with a Work theme:
- Growing up in the fishing community
- The fishing community
- Traditional navigation and fishing skills
- Being caught in a hurricane on the Dogger Bank
- A regular fishing trip
- An unforgetable trip
- Adjusting to life ashore
- Hauling prawns
- The Conduan
- In the wheelhouse of the Conduan
- Taking a break
- The Conduan being launched
Ray's other memories: