Monday, 5 December 2016

Pembrokeshire Life

This monthly magazine has an interesting article about the Skomer Guillemots in the December edition.  Written by Professor Tim Birkhead, who has studied the birds on Skomer for over 40 years, it is worth getting hold of if you can.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Some interesting historic stuff

For some time during the archive project we have had contact with a lifeboat historian and recently a former Skomer assistant, Andy Jones (1971 - 1975) has shed some light on Terry Davies's boat the Sharan which was in service to Skomer and Skokholm in the ;late 1960's up to the late 1970's when she sank on her moorings in Martins Haven.  so a bit of history :-

"We believe  Sharan was in fact the next Exmouth lifeboat ON-767 Catherine Harriet Eaton, a 35ft 6 Self Righter with a 35hp petrol engine (during service). She was sold in 1953.

The records are again very limited but there is a note from a previous archivist that states she was a ferry at Skomer named Sharan.

Your note about fishing boat number M210 would indicate her previous use before Terry purchased her (these boats were very popular conversions to fishing boats).

Unfortunately, i have had little luck with tracing old fishing boat numbers. M would probably specify Milford Haven. I will see if I can take that line any further. I will alter the records to show she was in use elsewhere prior to being used as a ferry, and include your article into her records.

I have attached a picture of her on service at Exmouth, you may be able to see that the wheel is in same place as on Sharan."


This second picture is the Sharan unloading passengers at Martins Haven at low tide - on the rocks!
and this is Andy's contribution:-
 
Sharan, a former Exmouth Lifeboat
 
Recollections from Andy Jones, assistant warden on Skomer
Island in the early 1970s.
In the late sixties and throughout the seventies Sharan ferried people
and stores to the Pembrokeshire islands of Skomer and Skokholm.
I first sailed on her in 1969 and the last time I travelled aboard her
was in 1975.
Between 1971 and 1974 I was the assistant warden on Skomer
Island, firstly as a volunteer, and latterly as an employee, of the West
Wales Naturalists' Trust. During these years I sailed on Sharan many,
many times and, not infrequently, acted as a crew member for the
skipper and owner, Terry Davies.
I recollect Terry telling me that the boat had been a RNLI lifeboat in
Exmouth before it was decommissioned and eventually bought by
him. I don't know where or how the vessel was used in the interim
but have a vague memory of Terry saying that she had been privately
owned and sailed. I do not know when Terry Davies acquired her or
whether it was he or another that converted her to a passenger boat.
Sharan was not in service on the Skomer run in May 1967 (the first
time I visited Skomer) so Terry started sometime between then and
June 1969 which was the first time I sailed on her.
Sharan was around 32 feet long and constructed from mahogany and
teak in a double diagonal style. I remember Terry saying that her keel
was cast iron and very heavy. She was fitted with a single screw
powered by a Ford (or Fordson) diesel engine. The helmsman
steered from a raised platform at the stern. The crossing from
Martin's Haven (the mainland port) to Skomer Island used to take
around 25 to 30 minutes meaning she travelled at around 7 to 8
knots. She was licensed by the Board of Trade for around 30
passengers and in the first couple of years I knew her she was a
registered fishing vessel — M210.
From my own research I initially thought Sharan was a Peake class
lifeboat possibly called Joseph Soames and was retired from RNLI
service in 1933. Further information and the sight of a photograph
from Richie, the archivist of the Lifeboat Enthusiasts' Society,
suggests very firmly that Sharan was in fact ON-767 Catherine Harriet
Eaton, retired from service in 1953. Sadly, I can shed no further light
happened between then and 1969 when I first sailed on her.
Terry Davies was a farmer at Maendewi, St Davids, Pembrokeshire as
well as the Skomer and Skokholm boatman. He was also a crew
member of the St David's RNLI lifeboat and awarded the RNLI's
'Thanks on Vellum' in 1962. Terry died in December 2006 (Obituary
in the Western Telegraph). One of Terry's regular crew was Malcolm
Gray, also from St Davids. Malcolm was for many years RNLI
coxswain of the St David's lifeboat. In the late seventies and early
eighties I believe Terry's son, Glyn Davies, regularly crewed for his
father on the Skomer boat. I know that Sharan sank on her mooring in
Martin's Haven.
Sharan was replaced by another former RNLI boat and was renamed
Arklow. I sailed on this boat only once during a quick visit to Skomer
in 1983 or 1984. I have no other details about this vessel.
 

Friday, 2 September 2016

Shearwater week continues!

Shearwater Week: The Manx Shearwater Experience is continuing on Skomer. This sold out event is bringing 5 groups out for 2 nights each to enjoy the world class wildlife experience that is the Manx Shearwater fledging season. 

As well as a couple of late nights getting out on the island to see first hand Shearwaters stretching their wings and departing on their epic journey to the coast of Argentina, the participants also get to find out what the groundbreaking research is uncovering about these amazing birds. As well as illustrative talks, they also get to be 'hands on' with the birds.

Younger and older participants alike were in awe of the birds, the dedication of the researchers and how close they were able to come to these wild creatures.

Keep an eye out on the WTSWW website for details of other events running this year on both Skokholm and Skomer, and keep your eyes peeled for next years events! 


 OXNav Group researcher Sarah briefs the group on how to weigh a Shearwater chick

Surprises popped up over the two days including 2 Wrynecks, an Icterine Warbler, a GS Woodpecker (a real rarity for Skomer), dozens of Common Dolphin, a sunfish and the opportunity to see some swallow chicks being ringed.