24th September 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Foldaway mast to help fishermen cut costs revealed by inventor

Click on image to enlarge.

An innovative new mast designed to help fishermen curb their fuel costs has been given its first public unveiling in Brae.

The Balpha Mast System heralds what could be a new era in sail power to augment commercially run, engine powered vessels.

Described as a revolutionary collapsible system, the new product can be lowered, raised and stowed simply and speedily.

It promises to allow fishermen the freedom to harness windpower without restricting their vessel’s ability to operate, or necessitating extra members of crew.

The product is seen as a way of helping fishermen save fuel and reduce their overheads, allowing them to rely on their fossil fuel powered engines only when they need them.

The idea was devised up by Stuart Balfour of Sullom, who started his business Sail Line Fish in 2009 after becoming increasingly frustrated by spiralling fuel costs.

Speaking at the launch, he said: “We are now coming to a point that … the cost of fuel relative to how a business can operate profitably, is such it’s discouraging for people to do things. We have to look at ways we can get round that.”

The company has also been looking at low carbon fishing – where the gear is stationary and fish move towards the gear after being attracted by bait.

The unique method has elicited a keen response from fish buyers and restaurants, not least because the image created is very clean.

A joint £30,000 feasibility study by Sail Line and Scottish Enterprise’s funding body Smart Scotland into the project has been running since May last year.

A website for the company, www.saillinefish.com, is also being launched. Partly funded by the SIC’s development department, it was produced by NB Communications.

Patents have been pending on the project, which meant Mr Balfour was forced to keep the innovative mast secret until this week.

Plans are now afoot to ready it for production.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

View other stories by »

Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.