For Cornishman Mike Greig, the role of head boatman and harbour master for St Michael’s Mount is a dream job, blending his love of boats with dedicated service to the community. Words: Caroline Wheater
I was born and raised in Marazion and used to run my own independent ferryboat between Marazion harbour and St Michael’s Mount, the famous tidal island. Five years ago, during my job interview with Lord and Lady St Levan – James and Mary St Aubyn – I told them that my qualifications included sailing in Mount’s Bay since I was nine years old and that I would give them an honest day’s work. I got the job.
In fact, it’s a life, not a job – but a good life. I went from being plain Mike Greig to Mike Greig, head boatman and harbour master of St Michael’s Mount, known by a lot more people and with a lot more to talk about. My team of 10 and I look after the island harbour, which has 40 moorings for operational boats, yachts and day boats. We also run nine ferryboats between St Michael’s Mount and Marazion, moving 250,000 people over a year. In August, the queues can be an hour long.
There are 24 residents on St Michael’s Mount, including the St Aubyn family, and I live in a tied terrace cottage in Harbour Row, with views to Marazion. The house is cosy and well maintained – and needs to be. When storms brew up, the sea starts to rumble, the wind whistles and it’s all hands to the deck as we put out storm boards and sandbags to protect the houses. Over a metre of seawater can pour over the Western Quay wall and boats get flipped.
In my spare time I sail my boat, Lethal Weapon. My brother and I belong to Mount’s Bay Sailing Club and we take part in race nights and weekends. We go fishing too, and I take my German Shepherd dog, Tia, for walks when I go to see my mum, who she lives with. Back on the island, my favourite time is sunrise when it’s peaceful and flat calm, with no hustle and bustle. I take a deep breath and start the day.