‘No person was allowed to whistle on board the boat, as it would attract the attention of the Dooinney-marrey (merman), who would be sure to send more wind than was required. No person was allowed to speak of dogs, cats, rabbits, horses or mice. A horse-shoe was nailed in some place in every boat, that of a stallion being considered the best’ – Manx fisherman’s superstition.

Anyone unfamiliar with the Isle of Man, might look at it on a map, sat vaguely equidistant between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and imagine that the Irish Sea is a relatively sheltered stretch of water. If you are unfamiliar, this is a mistake.
We don’t generally get what you could describe as ‘traditional seasons’ on the Isle of Man; the weather tends to transition from warm and damp to cold and wet at any given time throughout the year. What we do receive more than our fair share of is wind – combine that wind with 103,600 km² of open sea water over an uneven seabed and a 5-metre tidal range, and what you get is a year-round maritime rollercoaster.

I don’t whistle when I go out to sea – I don’t want there to be any more wind than is required.

All images here, part of an ongoing project to document the fishing industry around the Isle of Man, we shot using various 35mm film cameras. Like most of the fishermen, I’m taking a break for Christmas.


  1. Looking great Phil. There have been many Manx fishermen who have walking home along ashore at night, after few beers, and were attracted by the call of the Ben-varry (mermaid), singing from the rocks like they still do today. Fishermen being curious would venture over rocks to get closer to hear the singing better, sadly some vanished and never returned.

    Liked by 1 person

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