Tuesday, 27 October 2009

when the klondikers came to Weymouth

In October 1996, Weymouth Bay was home to a fleet of ramshackle Russian factory ships, and Weymouth harbour was crowded with fishing boats, a large proportion of which came from the Scottish east coast. The fishing boats offloaded their catch onto the factory ships. The Scottish trawlermen introduced Irn Bru to various Weymouth bars, not least of which being The Moorings, where we ferry people used to hang out too. The Russians would occasionally pootle over to the quay in their rackety old lifeboats, belching black smoke, and rummage their way through the town's charity shops. Some people would complain about the noise, the smell, the occasional slick of dead mackerel being washed up on the beach, and their complaints would make their way into the Dorset Echo. It was all quite lively and fun.

I was babysitting MV Havelet, also parked up on Weymouth quay, and drew the scene above on Thursday 17th October. Evidently the man with the money had turned up, and all the Russian lifeboats spent the day shuttling to and fro with cargoes of cabbages, potatoes and lumps of frozen meat.

I think that was the last year the Klondikers came to Weymouth. So I'm glad I saw them.

Havelet was sold to the Montenegro Shipping Company and sailed off to Bar. Here's a couple of maps of the voyage there, which was interesting. And hot and thirsty.

Weymouth quay

Klondiker at Tolverne, Cornwall. This ship featured in Granta 61, a piece called Waiting For St Petersburg