Brixham based Rick Fowler has been fishing white fish and dredging scallops with his own vessels for 24 years.
But with quotas and restrictions recently having been introduced in the local fishing area, Fowler knew he would need to venture further afield to catch more fish and maintain demand. To enable crew members to spend longer hours on board, including sleeping overnight, he asked NatWest for help in funding an upgrade of the living quarters.
Fowler said: “Day trips last about 5am until 8pm but that’s in the local area. Going further away we need to spend more time there to make it viable – refurbishing the boat means the crew can be more comfortable and safe.”
Funding for lending
Fowler and Andy Rowe, Relationship Manager in the NatWest Torquay office. secured a £80,000 fixed rate loan with no arrangement fee under the Government’s Funding for Lending Scheme. Combining this with European funding through the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), Rick was able to install a new wheel house, galley, toilets, showers as well as painting and cleaning out the boat’s sleeping area which accommodates four crew members.
The refurbishment, carried out by companies in the area including Stride Engineering, will keep the 280 horsepower diesel engine, 15 metre boat in a sea-worthy condition, prolonging the life of the Gerry Anne. The investment will also ensure its quality so Rick is able to sell it on in the future.
Good working relationship
Fowler said: “By maintaining a regular income of fish – which we’re able to do by going to fisheries in other ports – hopefully we’ll have a more stable income.
“I’ve always had a good working relationship with the NatWest, and Andy is more than willing to help; he’s down on the boat with me at five in the morning in his jacket and wellies, taking an interest in the fleet.”
Rowe said: “Rick is well versed in his area of expertise; I’m pleased we’ve been able to support him and I’m looking forward to continuing working together to help meet and exceed his ambitions.”