All in a day’s work: Ben Salter, skipper of the pleasure boat Daffodil, ferries a routine contingent of belly-dancers around the exotic shores of Cardiff Bay

A new BBC Wales documentary series called “Cardiff Bay Lives”  – which begins tomorrow night – features a number of familiar local faces and also alleged “rivalry” between competing pleasure boat operators on the normally-placid waters of the Bay.

Shown in head-to head competition are Ben Salter – skipper of the well known green-painted open pleasure boat  Daffodil  (which – for older film buffs –  looks a bit like the “African Queen”, funnel and all) and the white passenger wheel-house launch “Lady Helen” operated by Chris DeBono.

The rival boats Daffodil (left) and Lady Helen (right) and their respective operators not only compete with each other on Cardiff Bay but also have to fend off competition from up to 8 other vessels.

Identifying the two rival boats is no problem: “Daffodil”, helpfully, has a bunch of the eponymous flowers affixed to her bow whereas  Lady Helen is festooned with Welsh Dragon flags.

Ben Salter (left) and Chris DeBono “confront” each other on the boardwalk – but it’s only television

The “documentary”  depicts the operators of the two boats purportedly squaring-up to each other as they compete to attract passengers,   but in fact the programme – like most current BBC output –  is stretching the truth more than somewhat.

The Penarth-based open boat “Daffodil” skippered by Ben Salter operating a joint hen-night cruise up the River Ely in co-operation with her supposed deadly rival Chris DeBono of “Lady Helen”.

Ben Salter says that in fact he and his alleged “rival” competitor Chris DeBono, get on very well together and even  co-operate on some of their private- hire operations.

The real rivalry on Cardiff Bay – Ben says –   is actually between the smaller boat operators [ Daffodil and Lady Helen] and the operators of much larger vessels . The “rivalry” shown in this BBC series  is – it turns out – concocted purely for the cameras.

Another familiar face in the series is Penarth Pizza Pronto proprietor Kevin Halborg

Also cropping up in the programme is Penarth’s Pizza Pronto proprietor Kevin Halborg  – who has now opened a highly-successful offshoot of his expanding flat-bread pizza empire in Cardiff Bay .

The BBC TV “Cardiff Bay Lives” series begins tomorrow (Friday) night at 19:30 on BBC Wales . Viewers outside Wales will be able to see it later on-line on BBC iPlayer  – and take it all with a pinch of salt.

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  1. andrewsketty says:

    …and just to show that this series may be somewhat out of date before it airs the Cardiff Bay branch of Pizza Pronto closed down several weeks ago

  2. Philip Rapier says:

    Just another Cardiff Bay silly season myth from the media or is it ?
    There really was a Grangetown Whale washed up on the Baseball pitches of the Marl in the 1930
    Enjoy- this satire of the days of the Cardiff Floods around Pontcanna , Canton and Grange

    Frank Hennessey

    I am a deep-sea sailing man. In Cardiff I was born.
    I’ve sailed three times round Roath Park Lake and halfway round Cape Horn.
    So pin your ears back, one and all. Come listen to me tale
    Of how we sailed down Riverside to hunt the Grangetown whale.

    CHORUS: With the blowin’ of his hole and the flourishin’ of his tail,
    You’ll never see the equal of the mighty Grangetown whale.

    One soggy Thursday morning in the year of seventy-nine,
    We sailed south from Pontcanna to cross the foamy brine.
    We voyaged down Cathedral Road, and with very little fuss,
    We sank a Spanish galleon and a Number Seven bus.

    We anchored off the Westgate then to take on fresh supplies:
    Several dozen crates of dark and a couple of Clark’s meat pies.
    We headed west from Canton, through the cockle beds did sail,
    And made our way down Neville Street to hunt the Grangetown whale.

    Down Neville Street were crocodiles and polar bears as well,
    And down the end an island where dusky maidens dwell.
    There they stood in skirts of grass with gently swaying hips.
    I asked one for a coconut but all she had was chips.

    So on we went towards the town by this time scarcely sober,
    Until we struck a traffic light and our gallant punt turned over.
    Our captain and his dog were drowned beneath the murky foam.
    I waited three weeks for a Fifty-Six, and somehow struggled home.

    Now I’m the only man alive who’s lived to tell this tale
    Of how we sailed down Riverside to hunt the Grangetown whale.

  3. whatsoccurin says:

    the “Daffodil” takes tourists around the bay whatever the weather-when friends say that they are visiting Cardiff I always suggest that they take a trip on the “African Queen”-they probably have no clue what I mean!-perhaps the show will mention the “Balmoral”-now you see her, now you don’t-but usually you don’t!!

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