Stacey Belbin isn’t your usual 24-year-old. Not only can she handle a charter boat and teach sea fishing, she originally trained as a mortgage advisor. Her fascinating story will have you enthralled, and perhaps inspired to take to the waves.
With my unusual childhood – a sea fishing father and brought up on a boat from two weeks old – it seems inevitable that I would earn my living on the sea, but it took me a while to figure it out.
We lived in Great Leighs, near Chelmsford but Dad was a fisherman and his boat was at Mersea Island.
He had an hour’s commute each way, added to the long hours of a fisherman. So, to get to see his daughters grow up, he had my sister and I live on the boat up until we had to go to school.
We skipped nursery and pre-school, spent every weekend, evening, half-term and summer holiday out on the boat.
Education Authorities would probably frown on that lifestyle now but my sister and I managed to get straight As in school – it must have been eating all that fish when we were young.
My childhood memories are very vibrant. Waking up to the sound of rigging tapping against the masts of the sailing yachts moored around us.
The noise of crabs being demolished on the cabin roof by hungry herring gulls.
But living on a boat can be uncomfortable. The wind always finds the tiniest crack to make it draughty inside the only warm, dry place on the boat.
I remember waking to the sound of the rain hammering on the deck and I knew I had to inch to the outside edge of my bunk to keep a dry sleeping bag – there was always one leak the Dad didn’t quite find on his last sunny day repairs.
When we were very young we used to stay with Mum on the big boat we called home. It was rudimentary and I remember helping roll pastry using a lemonade bottle as a rolling pin and baking cakes and scrumptious delights for Dad when he came back from fishing.
As we got older, we got more and more involved in the fishing with Dad. My sister and I saved up all our pocket money and proudly paid for a set of lobster pots in pound coins.
Being sensible and self-reliant, we’d go out fishing on our own together. We’d always aim to catch more than Dad.
Rarely that happened but there was one occasion Dad blanked and we came back with an whopping 11lb sea salmon – an unusual catch from here. Dad was so proud of us even though we beat him.
There’s no doubt that I had an unusual upbringing but it gave me characteristics that most other young ladies didn’t have.
Not only could I cook, clean, bake cakes and all the usual things around a home, I could also handle myself on a boat – which must have been what attracted my husband to me.
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