Guernsey Press

‘I will miss Guernsey and its very special people’ – harbour master

Guernsey’s retiring harbour master has said the role in Guernsey is different from anywhere else.

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Captain David Barker will step down as Guernsey's harbour master next month. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 33292402)

Captain David Barker, who is preparing to step down next month after six years at the helm, told the Guernsey Press that he realised how unique the role was after speaking to several harbour masters from the south coast of England soon after taking on the job locally.

‘They are very concerned with their own internal finance, the various ports, and with local laws and by-laws, conservancy, that sort of thing,’ he said.

‘It’s a very inward-looking job in the UK.


‘Here, besides being the harbour master, I’m the chief coastguard, a marine accident investigator, the Registrar of British Ships and one of four service chiefs who contribute to joint emergency planning on the island.

‘I’m really the only source of maritime expertise for the States.’

The job was wide-ranging and required an open mind, he said, and that was something he loved about it.

Major projects during his time have included the building of the new port control facility and replacing a number of pontoons in the QEII Marina, as well as some in the Albert Marina.

There has also been some reorganisation of staff in the Harbour Office.

‘Almost all of my operations team next door are new in post since I’ve been here, and we now have a fantastic spread of talents in that team, which is great because it makes my job very easy.

‘They are perfectly capable of running two harbours and coastguard on a day-to-day basis without any interference from me.’

However, one of his regrets is the lack of progress on projects that would have seen major changes to both St Peter Port and St Sampson’s harbours.

‘It’s a frustration to me that we haven’t really got further than we did but there are many reasons for that, not least the pandemic.’

All of the ideas for development and improvement are now with the Guernsey Development Agency, which was set up by the States a couple of years ago, and which Captain Barker said he was working with closely.

One significant potential development on which progress has stalled was the creation of a pool marina.

‘We’re very keen at some stage to do the pool marina because it will really get better use out of the space we’ve got in St Peter Port Harbour,’ he said.

‘This could be done without interfering with other ideas for the overall development of the east coast.

‘I think that would be really good for the island and certainly for the blue economy here.’

States members also baulked at another set of recommendations which included building another port south of Longue Hougue to take all heavy commercial traffic away from St Sampson’s and some from Town.

Mr Barker said that would free up St Sampson’s to be developed as a leisure harbour.

But it was important to decide what to do with the commercial harbours before thinking about the rest, he added.

After retiring, Mr Barker and his wife plan to return to the north of England, where their sons are, but he said they would definitely still be returning to the island for holidays.

‘I will really miss Guernsey because it’s a beautiful island and we were very privileged to have been able to live here.

‘And I will miss the people – I know that’s a bit of a cliche but I’ll miss the people I work with and the people of Guernsey, who are very special.’