Wednesday, August 20

The Boat People

The Roa Island Wreck sitting next to the causeway near Foulney Island has become a familiar landmark to most folk round here for a few years now. Being near to the home of local TV star Dave Myers, it even made national television looking picturesque in the background of the new Hairy Bikers series the Hairy Bakers. I had noticed the rusty 70 foot former fishing trawler moving about during violent storms and always half expected to find the rusty hulk sitting astride the road to Roa Island at some point. A year or so back though I heard a rumour that the boat wreck had been sold, and started to look out for the scrap men towing her away or cutting her up where she lay. Next time I drove past her, I was so shocked that I nearly drove off the causeway and into the channel, some crazy guy was actually attempting to scrape away the thick layers of rust and paint her.
A week or two later and the rumours started to get even more bizarre, with tales of folk actually living on the marooned wreck. Asking around over the months I could only find scraps of information about the mysterious boat people, just who were these crazy folk? Strangely the answers come about when I happened to mention it to a fare that we pick up regularly from the Roa area. It's me said Helen straight away," along with my Partner Scott and daughter Saff."
I was shocked surely not, here was a perfectly sane respectable lady telling me that she lived aboard a ship wreck with no mains water supply, electricity, rubbish collection, phone line or postal address. But hey wait a minute, that also means no bills or rates to pay and with the added bonus that no one can find you. Helen tells me that they had been running pubs for the last ten years and had gotten heartily sick of the rat race. The boat is to be a five year project eventually morphing into a permanent house boat moored at a place yet to be decided. You really do have to admire the sheer guts and determination of this family, remember that life has to revolve around the high tides and if you don't get home in time, then you are stranded ashore. All the supplies you need for day to day living you will have to carry over the rocky muddy beach and up the steep ladder onto the boat. I really sincerely do wish them the very best of luck with this slightly crazy venture and hope that local folk will take them to heart and help out where possible. After all that's what us Furness folk are famous for. "What's the boats name? “You may well ask, and when you learn it and its translation then somehow it seems very apt. The trawlers name throughout its long hard working life has been the “VITA NOVA" which means fittingly "NEW LIFE."
Read Helen's blog at
Read the Vita Nova story at


Anonymous said...

mmm interesting read best of luck to them but i have to ask IS it their boat do they own it or have they just aquired it thru squatters rights
if so what of the real owner

Anonymous said...

disregard my last message just reading their website
wish them all the best

bigbikerbob said...

Hi Bob, As Anonymous said i wish them the very best of luck. I only wish we had enough nerve a few years ago to embark on something like this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bob, just been told by Bill Clark that you'd written about us - absolutely brilliant love it!
PS to Mr Anonymous stop thinking out loud before you check out the facts!
Thanks again Bob - see you on a journey from work soon!

Anonymous said...

sorry vita nova crew comment taken onboard.
wish you all the best in your venture

Bill said...

Vitanova crew: Been trying to sort you a little publicity. Someone from our newsteam at Abbey FM should be in touch

Unknown said...

Hi I skippered this vessel in Ireland
She was a great sea boat with good stability. She has a stork engine 600hp id love to hear more about her?