Dogger, Fisher, German Bight ….

I’m  a reluctant and easily sea-sick sailor.  Yet a backdrop to my life has been the hypnotic daily rhythms of the shipping forecast on Radio 4.  I love to listen to those poetic names of the areas round the British coast where seamen find themselves as they tune in to hear what the weather will bring.

Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Biscay, Trafalgar, FitzRoy, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes and Southeast Iceland.

Shipping zones round the British Isles (Wikipedia)

Yesterday, the Shipping Forecast was 150 years old.

A public service since 1867, it’s been broadcast since the 1920s, with a break during World War II.  Never more than 380 words long, it always follows the same strict format.  The late night broadcast, preceded by ‘Sailing by’ is a bedtime story, a soporific sleeping pill to many land-based listeners.  We couldn’t do without it.

Look!  We even have a cushion, and a breakfast mug dedicated to our beloved shipping forecast.

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

30 thoughts on “Dogger, Fisher, German Bight ….”

      1. Oh yes I remember Finisterre – I vaguely knew it was somewhere west of Brittany after reading A S Byatt’s ‘Possession’ – “but simply to see Finistère and the Bay of Audierne” – weird how some odd things stick in the memory, but you forget important matters!!

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  1. Margaret, you definitely just made my day here in France – I was a total addict to those forecasts, never understood a word and was eagerly listening in again during my week in Devon – such a wonderful collection of words and sea-places we’re not ever likely to see or need in a lifetime.
    This year I did better than others: Having gotten rid of our very old and delapidated British road atlas (the important thing being was and is a spiral binding!), we acquired a new one and it did have, wonder oh wonder, a page with all those shipping zones! I spent a happy time going ‘oh look – aaah that’s there – etc.’ Great post, as always….

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  2. Two questions which have nothing to do with this post: Found two references in book and a Sunday paper about ‘mizzly’ and ‘hygge’…. Was one of them the reason I found you?


      1. It might have been something you wrote on Susan’s blog maybe…. Anyway, I’m so glad to have found you – that surely must be good enough, no?
        And the mizzle word was read in ‘Killing in Cornwall’ by the wonderful writer Janie Bolitho: ‘Tiz a real mizzle out there….’
        Mizzle. The word was more than local dialect, it had a distinct meaning; more than mist but not quite rain, a fine precipitation which penetrated clothes insidiously and was so typical of West Cornwall. But it does wonders for skin and hair.
        There you go – it does wonders for skin and hair!!!!!

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  3. I used to be a fan many years ago, it’s on too late for me now! I always used to wonder about North Utsire and South Utsire, hadn’t a clue how they were spelt to look them up 😄 I love the sound of those words, thanks for enlightening me. I didn’t know it was that old.

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  4. I’ve never heard of this but I’m still moved by it–there’s something about the combination of the sea and the evocative place names, and the thought of ships in rough weather, and life boats at the ready. The words could almost be a song . . .


    1. They could. But failing that, they’re poetry and loved by many Brits who’d never go to sea in the conditions which are a day-to-day reality for many sailors.


  5. I haven’t listened to the shipping forecast for an age! I am always doing something else when it’s broadcast. I remember listening to it as a child and loving its rhythms and strangeness – a bit like ‘Jabberwocky’. I read Charlie Connelly’s book when it was first published and remember liking it. I miss Finisterre!

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  6. I too have lived with the Shipping Forecast, Sailing By and the bed time reading all my life. I can’t imagine it not being there!

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