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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!

New 2022: Project Keep Wardleys Sailor Warm and Dry

I used to be one of the first sailors up in the morning. Often at the crack of dawn. I would be there exchanging banter with fellow sailors across the anchorage in Piel harbour, often shivering clutching a cup of steaming hot tea, as the sun starts its long climb over Ingleborough (2372ft)— a truly wonderful sight.

Recently things have changed. Now I’m finding I’m often the last to wake, but when I do wake it is with a feeling of extreme cosiness. Another ten minutes, why not! Often one’s dreams are the most colourful, and most memorable at that time of the morning. Even the thought of a nice brew, or even to behold a beautiful sunny morning, sunrays flooding in through the portholes dancing on the varnished bulkhead. But I am still happy to stay put, and dream of what the day might bring.

What has happened you might ask? Well, the answer is something totally silent and non-power-consuming: it’s my recently fitted charcoal stove, which runs happily through the night keeping me nice and warm but more importantly dry.

Here is a pictorial view of how this happened:

Proud owner of a new BENGCO. Thanks Darren G. for you invaluable help in sourcing it.


This is where the charcoal goes. Not really much room. The original seal has broken. However, aluminium foil serves well as a substitute.
How to light: Remove all ash from previous (important). Fill with charcoal. Take off bottom unit. Physically remove the wick. Soak it in mentholated spirit (keep mine in a marmite pot is useful). Slot back in. Open vent. Light. Refit bottom unit. Wait till see orange glow. Close vent nearly shut.
Wardleys Sailor  professional design work. Must fit as low as possible. to suck the cold and damp. And  a long pipe is all the better for warming the boat.


It is still at the back of an envelope stage. The flash ‘H’ cap is still to be born.
Wardleys sailor Billy Whiz lends a helping hand.
Where to put it? Blend in with window. Can increase window length to cover if finally removed.
Ordered stainless steel from internet. Toying with new material in garage.
The stove didn’t come with a pipe or a through deck flange. Have to fabricate it myself. Here I’m offering up the parts. Must get the angle right!


Flange welded up. Deciding how long the pipe should protrude. What is aesthetically pleasing?
What is the right length. Here I decide to weld the pipe after installation on the boat. Must not scortch the deck!
The day arrived to fit into boat. Cutting and chopping into the original fixtures and fitting. It hurts!!
Finally fitted, but not yet welded fully.
View outside. Not yet welded fully.
View from inside. Now the pipe is welded,to the flange  trimmed off, and bolted into the deck.
Ash! The down side is more cleaning in the boat to do. Plan to put a metal hearth in place. Rain down the pipe may cause the ash into a paste if not removed immediately, which is what can be seen in the photo. Had to poke about with the ash pan removed. Normally the ash is all in the pan.
Keeping a brew warm. Works a treat! Also, airing and drying out some damp shoes and coat.
Hard to visually see working. But believe me there is some heat coming out of it!
View from jetty. Eight bolts. Plenty of sealant. Flange works well, little heat gets to the fibreglass, even when at full heat.