We were sorry to be informed by many friends and colleagues of the death of our legendary tender skipper Dave Turner.
He was known to us just as Fish and so his trawler/our supply boat Fairwinds became simply The Fish Boat and his characteristic chuckle became The Fish Laugh.
Dave started tendering Ross Revenge in a tiny open boat, so small that Peter Chicago thought that it was just a dinghy that would take him to the actual tender. After he purchased the larger Fairwinds Dave began to rack up trip after trip to Ross Revenge and few staff of the eighties and until the end of the Ross Revenge's time at sea will not have experienced a memorable voyage, especially those where he insisted that the returning crew must gut fish or when he had replacement mast sections lashed to his deck, extending either side of the wheelhouse. He once encountered a French navy patrol boat hopelessly lost in the Estuary and traded his boats charts for a bottle of Pernod.
It seems clear that Ramsgate Harbour authorities were not unaware of his activities but were mostly tolerant unless he pushed his luck way too far. I remember him telling me when the Harbourmaster took him aside saying Mr Turner, I cannot keep looking the other way when you leave harbour with a Skipper and eleven crew . After that we were obliged to hide in the fish hold until Fairwinds reached the sea and the tolerance of the officials was thus restored. On the infamous day of the 1989 Raid, he bravely closed in on the Ross to put journalists on board even while knowing that what cover he may still have was completely blown.
The roll of honour in his wheelhouse, which was always alive with ear splitting rock music eventually read 'Fish 141 Dept of Trade and Industry 1'. The 1 was the only time he was captured, but even then we got him a good lawyer and no prosecution followed.
Dave had been a diabetic since childhood, but gave no concession to his illness in terms of limiting his lifestyle. His partying was as legendary as his seamanship. Sometimes he would drift in to a diabetic coma and others would have to steer his boat whilst attempting to revive him with Mars Bars and sweets to balance his blood sugar levels. Sometimes he would cheerfully plunge his syringe of Insulin straight though his grimy jeans, slick with fish oil, oblivious to the horrified looks of his passengers.
As stated by Jamie his crewman, Dave had two passions, catching fish and Radio Caroline. In the former case he recently clashed with the Fishing Authorities for exceeding his quotas and we know he was deeply concerned about the consequences and possible confiscation of his beloved boat.
He fully intended to give the Court and his prosecutors a piece of his mind, but he died at his parental home of natural causes on 14th/15th October. We send our sympathy to his father Brian and his mother who all of us knew as Mrs Fish.
We mourn the loss of a kind and brave man and a true hero of Radio Caroline. At only 43 his was too short a life, but a very full life all the same.