Crabbing - personal phobia and an Island Guide

When I was just 6 years old I went crabbing with my sister, a pastime that our parents endorsed whole heartedly as it got us out of the house for a good 4 hours. Prior to this particular moment one balmy summer I found the whole experience very rewarding.

We were on a pontoon just under the old Yar bridge in Yarmouth. As usual we had stocked up on bones from the butcher, now long closed down, and had our standard orange lines wrapped around a stick and a couple of large black buckets with the hope of beating our record. I must stress here that my sister is 3 years older than me so at 9 years old she was looking for that extra bit of fun – unbeknown to me at this time.

After a good 3 hours our buckets were brimming with a good collection of brown and green crabs – some quite large and ferocious….

My sister retrieved her line with what was now just bone with no sign of flesh left, which always put a halt to any further chance of hauling up the last few from the harbour.

What came next has haunted me to this day.

She asked me to stand at the end of the pontoon – I did everything my sister asked in those days - and proceeded to walk around me with the two heavy buckets thus blocking my exit to the quay. She then up ended both buckets over my bare feet, emptying approximately 100 crabs of all shapes and sizes! With their pincers upstanding and scurrying this way and that I was surrounded. With no exit obvious I had no option but to firstly run around in circles and scream at the top of my voice, call my sister all sorts of rude words that only a 6 year knows, like silly, stupid, ugly etc.! and then make a bolt for the pontoon bridge that would take me to freedom and then beyond to tell my mummy!!!

Since that experience I have what can only be described as an horrific phobia of these crustations. I could go into many stories that have had me running up a beach to avoid them, waterskiing so close to the beach so as not to have to stand in any seaweed when dismounting – just in case a crab may be hidden in the weed, clearing a whole table of drinks with a swoop of my arm  when some ‘friend’ thought it funny to hide a land crab in my packet of cigarettes!

So, why the Blog? Simple. I am a father now and my 9 year old seems to have not picked up on my paranoia and has developed into a rather good crabber – I could go as far to say I think she may have invented ‘Extreme Crabbing’ as a sport as the weather, wind and location will not deter her from her catch!

Prior to my unfortunate experience, for which I have and never will forgive my sister, I got to thinking where I used to go – and could now take my daughter, so here’s my top 5 spots that I believe you will be able to fill your big black buckets to the brim. DO NOT, whatever you do, knock them over!

  • Any pontoon in Yarmouth harbour (or any harbour for that matter)
  • Top of the River Yar at high tide against the causeway
  • Halfway up the cyclepath to Freshwater at one of the bridges on the edge of the River Yar
  • Sea defences, reclaim ground on the outskirts of Yarmouth (mid tide)
  • On top of Black rock, Yarmouth Roads (by boat – mid tide)