Page 3 Profile: Jake Bowman-Davies, captain


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The Independent Online

Finding his sea legs?

Aged 16, Jake Bowman-Davies is Britain’s youngest fully qualifed ship captain. But he has proved himself deserving of the title by helping to save his crew as their boat sank in high seas during a force eight gale.

It’s not exactly been plain sailing, then?

The teenage skipper, from Neyland, Pembrokeshire, was in charge of his father’s crabbing boat while he and his three-man crew fished off the Llyn Peninsula in north Wales last week. But the ship, named Cesca, hit danger at about 10.30pm on Thursday, when it is believed it hit an unknown object.

Time to batten down the hatches?

It was too late for that. The vessel’s engines cut out before coastguards could get there; it began to take on water fast and was soon sinking.

What did the young captain do?

After spending two hours attempting to pump the water out, he made the difficult decision to abandon the 15-metre (50ft) ship and order the crew – aged 20, 23 and 30 - onto an inflatable life raft. Bowman-Davies, who trained on a commercial fishing scheme, said getting off the ship, which his family bought when he was 10, was the “scariest moment of his life”.

But he rose to the challenge.

“I just knew if I kept calm it would be better. Everyone else was panicking, but the calmer you keep the easier it is,” said Bowman-Davies, who only took over as skipper in December. “You realise what you’re doing and what they’ve told you in training just kicks in.” He added: “It broke my heart to leave the Cesca…I did everything I could to save her, but at the end of the day the safety of the crew comes first.”

O Captain! My Captain!

No need to go overboard. The vessel sank shortly before midnight and an RAF helicopter airlifted the crew from the raft. The men were taken to Bangor hospital and were all discharged later that night.

Sounds like it was a close call…

Bowman-Davies’s father Tim said of his son: “He handled himself superbly, and got them all off safely. We’ve lost the boat, but we can replace that. I can’t replace him.” HM Coastguard’s Robert Bowyer said: “It’s often a difficult judgement call for any captain to call for assistance and even more difficult to leave his vessel, which is his livelihood.” He added: “By calling for assistance when he did the captain of the Cesca gave the rescue services time to get on scene and try and save his vessel.”