If you want to know what the life of a Cornish deep-sea fisherman is really like you only have to look at the 1993 BBC TV series 'The Skipper,' (it's on Youtube). Roger Nowell, the eponymous skipper, was one of Newlyn's characters and epitomised the hard, hand-to-mouth existence of many Cornish fishermen. And the dangers of the western sea are all too evident. In the series, Roger was rarely seen without a roll-up in hand or mouth; unfortunately, the consequence was an early death at 66.
i.m. 1944 – 2010
Rough, untutored, though canny as a gull,Skilled at all net or engine work to keep
The boat steady although its plunging hull
Risks swamping in the freezing western deep;
Blunt, unsettled, pub-haunting when on shore,At sea philosopher of the tall waves,
Yarning under the moon in the wind’s roar,
Cursing as trawls are cast and the spume raves;
Wasteful of home life, frugal wife and child,An eye for high-price fish to fiddle from
The fishing log – a ploy since boats began;
Wary yet by the rocking waves beguiled:
A rag-tag stormy petrel, shunned by some,
By all else loved – a Newlyn fisherman!
© July 2014