WHEN Maggie Hanbury approached Jimmy Buchan in 2010 to ask him if he would be interested in writing an autobiography he initially thought it was a wind-up.
Now, a year later, his book is published and awaits readers to learn of his fascinating life at sea.
Speaking to the Buchan Observer in an exclusive interview, Jimmy says it’s been a pleasure to write about past and present times in his town of Peterhead.
“When I was approached by the Hanbury agency in 2010 I checked the calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1st. They told me they’d been keeping an eye on my career and had seen me on Trawlermen, so wondered if I was interested in producing an autobiography,” he said.
“Within weeks, a visit to Peterhead had been arranged by Maggie Hanbury. I took her around the town, to Buchanhaven where I grew up and round the harbour. She was fascinated by everything I told her and said it was a ‘must’ that I wrote the book.”
Jimmy’s book is one for everyone, and covers his childhood memories from the tender age of just five years old to his days at sea on the Amity II.
“I loved writing about my childhood memories - I was just a typical mischievous boy - and it was great to write about things that happened in my fishing career.
“The book touches on politics but it doesn’t go into too much detail. I wanted the book to appeal to everyone so it has a bit of everything.”
The skipper’s dedication of the book to the three women in his life - wife Irene and daughters Amy and Jenna - is hugely important to Jimmy.
“They don’t like to be in the limelight, but I couldn’t write the book without mentioning them, so dedicating it to them was really special,” he said.
Inspiration wasn’t hard to find for Jimmy who had everything ready in his mind to be put onto paper.
“I didn’t know I was a writer but it seems I am. My daughter Jenna has an English degree and I’d always say to my wife Irene, where does she get it from?
“Now I know why! All I wanted to be was a fisherman so I didn’t have the time to discover any other talents.
“I found it easiest to write about sea at sea, so while I was on watch at night, I’d sit with my pen and paper and write. It all came flooding back so easily without any distractions. It was the same when I wrote about my childhood, I’d go and sit on Buchanhaven pier and the memories came rolling in.”
In his book, Jimmy’s opening chapter takes readers to a night at sea where a storm catches the Amity by surprise.
“The first chapter, Lump of Water, was my favourite part to write. I think and hope, that it will make the readers want to carry on. I was caught out by the huge sea and it was safe to say that that night gave me the biggest fear of my life, and writing it down brought it all back.
“ I have great confidence in this chapter because any other fisherman reading it will know exactly what it feels like to be caught out by a storm and know that it wasn’t written with exaggeration.”
Trawlerman also covers the traumatic losses of men at sea, and Jimmy was unsure whether to include the horrific tales.
“I found it difficult writing about the disaster of boats being lost at sea. Widows of those men are still in the town and I was going back and fore wondering should I, should I not. But these things did happen in my lifetime. I felt the stories had to be told and I hope readers can appreciate that.
“I want people to learn the true cost of fish: the life of a fisherman isn’t about hard work and commitment - it’s the dedication of the people who have gone to sea and never returned. That is the true cost of fish.
“I have been lucky, being a fisherman is a unique way of life and it only suits a certain type of person.”
Peterhead’s very own celebrity says he sees himself as the same person he’s always been.
“Although I have an autobiography, I don’t think of myself as better than anyone else,” he says. “I’ve seen emails from people who visit Peterhead hoping to meet Jimmy Buchan, but I don’t see myself as a celebrity, I haven’t changed, I’m still just Jimmy.
“I’m an opportunist, and if I see a chance to promote the town of Peterhead I’ll grab it with both hands. Some people see Peterhead as an awful town.
“Fair enough we could have some nicer weather but there are much worse places we could be. I’ve found it to be an absolute privilege to write about my life in Peterhead and hopefully it will give other people an idea of what it’s like to be a fisherman.”
Trawlerman, which was officially launched on June 2, costs £7.99 and is available in paperback.