There have probably been small boat moorings in the lee of Piel Island for centuries. Piel castle was a fortified warehouse for the wool that the monks collected, they then exported it from the island.
Martin Eccles first laid a mooring for his small motorboat in 1990 when he took the weight round on the road by 4Wd, it was laid in a drying area off the end of the jetty near the moorings for the boats “Jonika” and”Brandy Cove” Jack Doran with the workboat “Moya K” helped Rod in those days. Norman recalls that Rod Scar also put the concrete mooring base down for him about twenty years ago (1995). Martin Topping also had a mooring out there.
Alan Fleetwood said “I joined the club in 1990 and took over as mooring officer in the same year from Peter Hoskins. Moorings were always put down to a specified design of 50 yards of 22 mm or heavier chain staked at each end, with a riser in the center. To assist this I obtained 600 yards of 22mm chain ex British Coal, and a further load of chain the following year. In 2004 one deep water mooring belonged to Brian Roberts and at the end of 2004 there was also one for the boat River Dance which we owned.”
On 20th April 2002 the barge Toggenberg took her second day trip to Piel on a neap tide with two concrete mooring weights lashed inside the wheelhouse. These formed the basis for GSC5 and another mooring GSC6 which has since been lost because in time, the weight proved to be not dense enough and dragged over the hard bed of the channel. The crew that day were the Johnson lads, Norman, Pete Gardner and Martin Topping.
There was another trip across Morecambe Bay on 5th July 2002 with ChrisB, Norman, Peter, Adrian, Carolyn & Chris, John Bacon and Mike Swarbrick, we returned on the same day having done some renewals and laid the mooring for “Grey Goose” in deep water. This also proved to be a failure, it was two opposing “rond” anchors with chain on the ground between them.
A more ambitious expedition was planned by Norman the next year and we set off on a spring tide on 14th July 2003 at midday. The crew list was impressive, probably a GSC record!
Norman, Brian Roberts, Alex Radcliffe, Dennis Marsden, John Holt, Peter an Adrian Johnson, Peter and David Booth, Peter Gardner and Carol Woods.
We had 4 heavy railway wagon wheels on board, copious amounts of chain an 4 newly painted Hippo buoys. The wheels were joined in pairs and have served well, being the ground tackle for GSC1 and GSC2.
John Holt was mooring officer and his report for the year 2003 can be read in this archived Mainsheet : Oct 2003
Here is a link to a video which can be found on the web site, it was taken by Peter under GSC1 in July 2017:
In 2013 there were at least two more maintenance trips to Piel, and a fishing boat ” ? ” was hired to drag some of the moorings to more suitable locations
All Morecambe Bay small boat sailors can be thankful that we have Norman and the Johnson Brothers for their tireless devotion to keeping these remote moorings up to spec even though they are out of our sight in a hostile environment most of the time.
Thanks also to all those who have contributed to this article, and after it has appeared in “Mainsheet” it will be made into a page for our website which can be added to if you have any fresh or historic pictures, or have updates about developments.
David Booth Aug 2017
August 2021 Update
During July and August 2020 we had divers surveying the moorings and we got the shattering news that all our were reported to be missing.
We have had to purchase all new risers and buoys and have teamed up with Barrow Diving Club and now we are pleased to say we have the current moorings available:
The tackle was purchased, assembled at the club and transported around Morecambe Bay and connected to our existing ground tackle in front of the Ship Inn by members of Barrow Diving Club lin July 2021. A big thank you to all those who have helped make a success of this project, all conducted over a very difficult period during the Pandemic of 2020 and 2021.
David Booth 14 Aug 2021