Barbara sees family’s history return to port
When a 104-year-old fishing smack sailed into Lowestoft it gave Barbara Bonner-Morgan a chance to be reunited with her family’s history.
For the Swedish-owned 80ft sailing vessel Deodar was once part of a fleet of trawlers co-owned by her beloved grandfather John Methias Barnard, so Barbara, from Wetherden, and her family threw a picnic aboard the historic trawler for the crew.
Owner Thomas HelstrÖm had sailed her from Sweden to Scotland, through the Caledonian Canal and around the coast to her former home port of Lowestoft with different people joining him as crew for different stages.
Among them was Barbara’s brother Grahame Barnard, a keen sailor at home in Canada, who joined Deodar for the stage from Brixham, where Deodar was built in 1911, to Lowestoft.
Barbara said: “Deodar came into the fleet in 1919 – many of the fishing smacks were lost in the First World War because the U-boats targeted them.”
Deodar and her surviving sister boat Sunbeam, which is owned by a group, were sold to Sweden in 1937 for £80 each. Barbara’s singer-songwriter daughter Emma has given a concert aboard the Sunbeam in Sweden.
By the time John Barnard, who also farmed at Halesworth, left the fishing industry in 1945 the fleet numbered 36 boats.
He was well known in Lowestoft, having had the town’s first car and twice been its mayor, but Barbara remembers him as the loving grandfather who gave her sixpence for learning to tell the time on his fob watch.
“He was a very dear and wonderful grandfather,” she said. “He was too busy to see his own children grow up so he was determined not to miss that with his grandchildren.”
Fishing in Deodar’s days was tough and dangerous and Barbara said her grandfather was deeply upset when men were lost.
Reports of each stage of Thomas’ voyage are at www.deodar.se