Fishermen, Trawls & Snags
Catching fish, not losing nets and finding shipwrecks has been made all the easier, thanks to the marvellous seabed surveys delivered by INFOMAR for the Geological Survey and Marine Institute of Ireland. Their data and its quality are excellent and your PC or phone does the rest.
Before INFOMAR we had a Global Positioning Service, GPS, provided by satellites. If you had good satellite receiving equipment (Even a mobile phone,) along with good charts, Admiralty, Kingfisher, Decca and local knowledge, you had a lot.
Before GPS there was Decca and Loran. Developed during WW2 these were systems that enabled the positioning of aircraft and ships. Post WW2 they became commercial and were operated by scattered land-based radio transmitting stations. If you had the expensive and extremely cumbersome-at-first receivers triangulating your position, coupled with the charts that were developed for it, a system of ‘Chains’, colours, letters and numbers, you were away it – on a good day.
Before Decca there was your eye! Fishermen had to rely on land marks, transits (e.g. The Church steeple in line with the harbour bar – keep out!), and maybe a bit of sounding, in order to remember good ground and to avoid ‘bad ground’. Catching a snag, ‘peaks or wigs’, losing or damaging a net in an old shipwreck was a costly business. If the weather was foggy you could forget it, or take a chance – and maybe have a bad day.
Extremely intuitive from long years of experience, fishermen wrote down and even sketched all their info into copy-books or on to graph paper. Cod there in July, whiting over there in September etc. When Decca came along with the ‘chain’ system, they were able to overlay it on the graph paper and come up with new charts of their own, ones which have proved to be extremely accurate.
The old fishermen’s’ charts here, are; Arklow Bank and surrounding area, Cahore Point and surrounding area. These were very generously given to me by a fishermen from Wicklow, and normally, fishermen could be very sensitive about parting with their treasured trawls & snags.
One of the boats was the Silver Scout.
Look closely at some of the fishermen’s remarks, snags and wrecks (e.g. Toop)
The third is a working record of several years wreck hunting by various divers on the Kish and Bray Banks.