Category Archives: News and Reports

Updates and reports on events

RIP Steve Chattaway (King of Piel 2008 – 2021)

Steve Chattaway, who will be sadly missed, passed away on Monday (20/02/2023) after a short illness. Steve was King of Piel Island between 2008 – 2021. The title ‘King of Piel’ is traditionally given to the landlord of the Ship Inn, which is one of the few buildings on the island besides the castle.

Steve was always there for Wardley’s Marine Yacht Club members who, after having ventured across the rough seas and tidal rips of Morecambe Bay, had finally pushed open the door and entered into the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the Ship Inn.

In theory, the kitchen shut at 7:30 pm, but Steve, his wife Sheila, and daughter Tina, would always keep an eye out for white canvas on the horizon, coming up the Barrow channel. The special late-night dining menu for WMYC club members might have been somewhat limited, but he never let us sailors go hungry and would rustle up at least something, which, more often than not, was his famous plate of Fish and Chip that could outface any visiting Texan.

He was also known to tick off WMYC sailors, with a rye smile, if he thought they were sailing away from Piel Island in unsafe weather conditions, and offer a free ride to Barrow railway station to be on the safe side.
Steve and Sheila Chattaway ran the Ship Inn as a man and wife team and featured on national television when TV’s Martin Clunes, the host of the ‘Islands of Britain’ series, called with a TV crew to visit Piel Island and film the hundreds of local people who walked across the sands to be a part of the ‘King of Piel’ coronation, back in 2008.

First Sail to Piel, 5th and 6th February 2023, missing lady?

Wardley Marine Yacht Club sailors Malcolm and Simon collect the cup for the first sail over to Piel this year!

The barometer was high on this cold February Sunday morning, stopping the tide from reaching its predicted height. Come high water (11.15), Jamila was still aground in the mud. But, with her engine shuddering at full-speed astern in a pool of gurgling and bubbling water, her twin keels were begrudgingly dragged from her underwater shackles, free to go where ever she wanted. Out on the river Wyre, a significant search was taking place using helicopters and high-speed RIBs. Over the preceding week, TV news reports had beamed to the public at large an image of a woman with an attractive smile who had gone missing on the river near the upstream village of St. Michael. She had been missing for some time, and social media speculation on what might have happened was rife. Noticeably more walkers than ever could be seen treading the footpaths on both sides of the river, looking this way and that way but in particular onto the water. So, with a sense of morbid excitement, the two crew set off down the Wyre en route to Piel Island. The sea state was calm but allied with a strong outgoing tide and the iron donkey chattering down below; Jamila made her way at a steady five knots towards the mouth of the river.
All too soon, it was four-thirty on Monday morning with the alarm ringing. We pulled ourselves into action with just a cup of tea and yoghurt, and departed thirty minutes later into a sea illuminated by a moonlit sky. Sunrise came around at about seven-thirty; see the photo above. Bacon, baked beans and crusty thick brown bread and butter were eaten on the move whilst crossing Mort Bank. All progress was made under engine as there was little wind, and handling the cold ropes and sails would have been hard on the hands. Feeling a bit soft and vulnerable vis-a-vis the elements at this time of the year, we maintained the stove and tilly lamp stoked with fuel, which served well on the voyage back, where crew and skipper could take turns in the cabin keeping warming.
Tilly Lamp
We duly arrived at Knott End-on-Sea and picked up a buoy near the golf course at 8:30 am. High tide was predicted at 11.30, thus a two-hour wait imposed by mother nature before going up the river. All went nicely whilst navigating the last of the flood tide. After entering Wardley’screek, the skipper positioned Jamila perfectly by the jetty and was duly complemented by the crew. In fact, it was the mud that should take the glory, for it was the mud that stopped the boat perfectly on station, so that the ropes could be tied easily and at our leisure. As soon as the docking chores were completed, the crew took off rather too quickly, but a little later, the skipper was pleasantly surprised by a deliciously served luncheon of clubhouse-cooked cheese-on-toast. Capital stuff!

In conclusion, we both had a jolly good time sailing to Piel Island and back, stayed warm and dry, met up with some pals, fed well, drank some wine and ale, and had no mishaps along the way. Job done I’d say!

Sailors are best served Warm and Dry.

I used to be one of the first sailors up in the morning. At the crack of dawn, I would have been there exchanging banter with fellow sailors across the anchorage in Piel harbour, shivering, clutching a cup of steaming hot tea as the sun climbed over the local hills.

Recently, things have changed. Now I’m the last club member to awake. And when I do, it is with a feeling of extreme cosiness leading to yet another ten minutes in the bunk. Often, dreams are the most colourful and memorable at that time of the morning when all is warm and well.

What has happened, you might ask? Well, the answer is a recently fitted charcoal stove running silently through the night, keeping the boat warm and dry.

In fact, it is at its best on those miserable rainy mornings when cold, damp condensation is the norm. With a stove burning low in your hull, it is like having central heating in your boat.

Here’s the story in photographs –

Proud owner of a new BENGCO. Thanks, Darren G., for your invaluable help in sourcing it.
This is where the charcoal goes. There’s not really much room. The original seal has broken. However, aluminium foil serves well as a substitute.
How to light: Remove all ash from the previous burn (important). Fill with charcoal. Take off the bottom unit. Physically remove the wick. Soak it in methylated spirit (keeping mine in a marmite pot works well). Slot back in. Open vent. Light. Refit the bottom unit. Wait till you see a strong orange glow. Close the vent to get your desired heat setting.
My not-so-professional design work.  It must be fitted as low as possible so that you are always sucking in the coldest and dampest air, which in turn leads to a long flue pipe that is better for warming the boat.
It is still at the back of an envelope stage. The flash ‘H’ cap is still to be born.
Wardley’s sailor, Billy Whiz, lends a helping hand.
Where to put it? Blend it in with the window. I can increase the window length to cover the hole if required.
Ordered stainless steel from the internet. Toying with new material in garage.

The stove didn’t come with a pipe or a through deck flange. I have to fabricate it myself. Here, I’m offering up the parts. You must get the angle right!

The new flange is now welded up. I must decide how long the pipe should protrude and what is safe and aesthetically pleasing.

What is the right length? Here, I decided to defer welding the pipe until after installation and resolve to be careful not to scorch the deck!
The day arrived to fit into the boat. Cutting and chopping into the original fixtures and fittings hurts! But I want a boat that works for me and, as such, cannot be obsessed with the possible resale value.
Finally fitted, but not yet welded fully.
View outside. It is not yet welded fully, and there is no rain cap yet.
View from inside. Now, the pipe is welded to the flange, trimmed off, and bolted into the deck. The stove is ready to try out now.
It’s going now. It’s hard to see it visually working since it is so well contained in its stainless steel box. But believe me, there is some heat coming out of it! You must be careful going to the heads, but there is quite enough room.
Here, the Bengo stove is keeping a brew warm, and works a treat!  A full load of charcoal and set at max is required to dry out a really wet boat. The stove gets hot and glows in the dark, burning for about three hours. Afterwards, top it up and dial down the heat to a minimum, and it will run through the night, keeping the boat dry and keeping the chill out of the air.
View from the jetty. Eight bolts. Plenty of sealant. The flange works well; little heat gets to the fibreglass, even at full heat.
The design of the Bengco is such that it can be safely used out-at-sea within reason. Hot ashes can’t fall out as all are contained in a precision-made stainless steel box.

NEW March 2022: A Wardley’s Trip to Piel Island

There were a lot of trips to Piel Island over the 2021 season. This is just one of them. The main aim is to get out to sea, watch the Lancashire coast with work and worries left far behind. See the Cumbrian coast in the distance come closer and closer. Navigate into the channel and find an anchorage. Get ashore in a small inflatable dinghy. Walk the walk up the long inclined jetty capable of handling a 36-foot tide, order a pint in the Ship Inn, then pay homage to the King of Piel (order more pints). Get back to our moored boats in spite of the 4-knot running tide. Hopefully, sail back into the arms of our loving families the following day.

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Halfway Shoal: The turning point into Barrow Channel for all but the largest boats.

Kyle 2 ahead!
Castle panorama on Piel Island
Awaiting the tide
Port hole
Unfriendly natives?

 

Time to head back