Cathy Roberts with Di Gaskell

Tugboat Cath washes up at Radio Clatterbridge

A “woman with a washing line” who had no experience of sailing has explained how she took to the sea after recovering from a serious illness.

Cathy Roberts, who owns a bookshop in Wirral, rescued a 70 year old tug boat after buying it from a used car salesman.

She told Radio Clatterbridge how she decided she needed a challenge at the age of 40.

Now dubbed Tugboat Cath, she was given the name when she sailed into Liverpool’s Royal Albert Dock nearly ten years ago.

Cathy told Coffee Club presenter Di Gaskell how she came from a maritime family but had no personal experience of life on the waves.

“You just have this vision of a mini Popeye really. But I’m not!” – Cathy Roberts

Listeners heard how she bought the 65-foot red boat from the salesman in Wakefield, West Yorkshire after finding it listed online.

It was given a complete overhaul and refit over a three year period with a view to sailing north up the west coast of the country in a story on par with the Deacon Blue song Dignity.

It was a target which everyone, including Cathy herself, doubted she could accomplish.

“So many people told me so many reasons why I wouldnt be able to do this – right up until I sailed.” – Cathy Roberts

Thankfully, Cathy did successfully embark on a 10 day journey north around the coast, albeit in rough waters.

She has now made her home at the historic Liverpool dock – and is even able to boast about using the Liver Building clock to keep a check of the time.

Cath's boat, the France-Hayhurst (Credit: Catherine Jones)
Cath’s boat, the France-Hayhurst (Credit: Catherine Jones)

Cathy has since opened the Literally book shop in New Brighton, where there is a nautical theme.

She tells tales from a storyteller’s chair made from driftwood and was behind the idea for the town’s mermaid trail which is based on the 300 year old story of the Blackrod Mermaid.

“I wanted to go to sea. I wanted to have an adventure. I decided to go sailing!” – Cathy Roberts

The shop has also turned into a great place to buy Cathy’s own book, Tales of the Mersey Moggies, based on cats she would see when she lived in a flat on Liverpool’s Lark Lane.

That particular story has now been made into a musical and she says she would love it to become an animation too.