Time and Tide: Oral Histories


Name: Dave Skardon
Year of birth: 1948
Place of birth: Deal, Kent
Place of residence: Ripple, Kent
Occupation/s: Fisherman

Dave’s great grandfather worked on the warships in the 1800s, as a surgeon. Dave’s grandfather was born in the Timeball Tower, a key landmark on Deal seafront. The infant’s father was in charge of the timeball.

Looking back at Deal he muses: ‘There used to be boats right the way along the beach. Used to be full of character and charm.’


‘Everything I’ve learned has come from the old boatmen.’

At one time, all boatmen in Deal were exempt from the press gangs, because they supplied the naval dockyard in the town.

Dave earned his boatman’s licence aged 14, making him the youngest person in Deal ever to do so.


Dave remembers: ‘When I was younger, I was invincible. I wouldn’t go out in some of those weathers now. During heavy seas, the sea spray would freeze to the mast.’ A top tip from Dave when launching a boat off a pebble beach: ‘You can usually count 1, 2, 3 waves, and then launch – that will be when it’s calm. Usually!’