Oysters become Christopher's world September 16 2012, 0 Comments

Western Morning News - Page 3 - Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 10:00

BATTLING the elements on Cornwall's River Fal to catch oysters couldn't be further from what Christopher Ranger used to do – working in the computer industry.

But now he has a taste for his new career, he wouldn't swap it for the world.

Mr Ranger, 34, catches oysters from his 1960s sailboat Alf Smythers, using a 500-year-old method.

Mr Ranger, from Mylor, near Falmouth, started practicing the technique last year but admits he still has a lot to learn.

The oyster catcher has lived in Mylor for four years and has a crew of two men helping him.

"We use a dredge – which is more user-friendly than it sounds – about the size of three rulers. It scoops the oysters up from the riverbed into a net behind, like a garden hoe. I am still trying to master the technique. The rest of the fishing fleet on the Fal are generally helpful in sharing their skills."

Mr Ranger is one of the youngest oystermen working the River Fal and he employs students Rupert Philips, a marine biologist, and Luke Anstiss. After catching the oysters, he takes them to his depuration unit to be purified before they travel to restaurants and hotels as far away as Lyon in France.

On life out on the water, Mr Ranger, who takes his oysters raw with a dash of lemon, said: "The worst days are when we have no wind and cannot drift with the tide. When it's blowing a gale, it's a nightmare. It's a great feeling, though, to rely on the wind and to sail."

Mr Ranger, who was raised in Portscatho, added: "I catch up to 10 bags of native oysters a week – with about 200 in a bag. This natural way is much better for the ecosystem, and they taste a lot fresher than Pacific oysters, which are farmed."

The oyster season lasts from October until March.