"Rhuol some more history"

My grandfather's name was Rowland Williams. He was a seaman by profession and had a Captain's licence. He spent nearly all his life at sea and died at 92. The sea was his place, he talked about it and thought about it, in a way it was the great hobby of his life. When too old to go to sea he had a small boat of his own with which he would fish in Porth Neigwl, catching crabs, lobsters, mackerel, wrasse gurnard etc. He would send the crabs and lobsters to Pwllheli and thence to markets in England.

The boat was called "Y Lion Bach", and even though it was only about 12 feet long he would set to sea even in rough weather and if the other boats made for the shore “Lion Bach” would reach port as certainly as the bigger boats. He would let me go fishing with him and I would insist on going every day if it was possible. I remember, me and my brother William, going out with him once on a fine day in the summer. There was no breath of wind and the sea was like glass. There were other boats out too and they had gone far out to sea. We two children nagged him to go after the other boats to the open sea. "What for" said my grandfather "It would be difficult for me to come back (i.e. if anything went wrong) remember that you are only children". But there was no quieting us and so we started off after the other boats but still quite far from them, and my grandfather was very wary, but we went quite far out. In the distance we saw a small ship (i.e. fishing boat*) coming towards us. William and myself were rowing while my grandfather was fishing. Soon the *ship' came close enough for us to speak to the hands and one of them shouted, "where are you going Rowland? You'd better head back, your crew are far too young you don't know what may happen and the kids would be of little use if anything went wrong. You'd better come on deck with us so that you and the kids can have a bite to eat. The potatoes are on the fire and almost ready". The captain was from Aberdaron and knew my grandfather well. "Well I'd better not James, I'd better head for shore as soon as I can with the crew I've got today" said my grandfather. "Yes" said James "in case anything goes wrong". “Turn the boat to shore lads" said my grandfather "pull together, you pull more Wil, and you less Rowland. Stop plucking at the oars and pull more evenly for God's sake* I don't know what made me bring you two so far out". As he was speaking a big shoal of fish broke surface all around us. We two still rowed the Lion Bach while my grandfather set about pulling in the fish. It's a difficult job catching the gurnard. Their fins are very sharp and can cut the hands till they bleed. My grandfather though could catch them unharmed by putting the fish under his armpit to pull the hook out from its mouth. That day we had far more fish than any of the other boats. My grandfather was the Pilot of the harbour in Rhiw and he would bring in the ships carrying coal to the Quay, and the ships carrying Manganese from Rhiw to England. I would be on the lookout for ships coming to Rhiw, so that I could go with my grandfather to fetch them ashore and get a hard biscuit from the Captain. I would often sleep with my grandfather, especially if we were going fishing the following morning. My grandfather's habits were interesting. He would get up early and the first thing he'd do was to go to the bedchamber window to look at the sea and what sort of weather was in store.


Ships built at Rhuol


Sloop “Cambria”

35 tons,

Built at Rhiw in 1791, for Robert Parry, Rhiw. She was lost in 1835.


Ketch “Swallow”

8 tons.

Built at Rhiw in 1802, for R Griffith and G Roberts, Rhiw.

Lost off Abersoch in 1812.


Boat “Promptness”

7 tons, length 27 ft, beam 9 ft.

An open boat that was decked at Rhiw in 1809, for William and Evan Owen, Rhiw.


Boat “Nonsuch”

An open boat that was decked at Rhiw in 1810, for William Roberts, Rhiw.


Sloop “Ebenezer”

17 tons, length 35.4 ft, beam 12 ft, draft 6.3 ft.

Built at Rhiw 1841 by T Richards for himself, and was broken up in 1879, but then owned by Robert Williams Pwllheli.


Rowland Williams

Bryn Golau, Rhiw.

Written in April 1946

When he was 72 years old.

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