Good Shepherd makes delivery after 19 days

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The Fair Isle ferry Good Shepherd IV coming in to Grutness on Sunday for much needed food and supplies after 19 days without leaving the island due to the December gales. Photo: Ronnie Robertson

The Fair Isle ferry Good Shepherd IV coming in to Grutness on Sunday for much needed food and supplies after 19 days without leaving the island due to the December gales. Photo: Ronnie Robertson

Fair Isle residents got their first cargo in 19 days when the Good Shepherd IV finally made it to Grutness and back on Sunday.

The ferry’s last trip had been on 10th December and demand for fresh fruit and vegetables had grown strong by the end of the month. The near three-week delay puts the disruption to Shetland ferry links with the mainland in perspective, according to Fair Isle folk.

Good Shepherd skipper, Neil Thomson, said that while rough seas driven by the constant gales had hindered sailing anyway, a breakwater for the exposed Grutness Pier was “high on his wish list” for the New Year.

Mr Thomson said not only would a breakwater help vessels using the pier such as the Good Shepherd and various local fishing boats, it would provide work and help trigger enterprise in the Ness.

A new breakwater had helped immensely at North Haven in Fair Isle while other breakwaters had even been built in sheltered voes like Walls, Skeld and Uyeasound.

“The odds it’s made for wis at Fair Isle since we got the breakwater is unbelievable. The other side of the voe [at Grutness] is Norway,” Mr Thomson observed.

Meanwhile Fair Isle residents, well used to the hazards of winter communications, had stocked up on Christmas essentials and owners of Stackhoull Stores, Robert and Fiona Mitchell, were credited with having the vision to stock up early with provisions.

Added to this was the fact that the council’s Directflight service had been able to land in Fair Isle every day, topping up with groceries and other goods. However there is no chance of the small Britten Norman Islander planes being able to take the likes of a pallet of feed.

Fair Isle weather man Dave Wheeler said: “Most people here have fairly well stocked freezers but the Directflight pilots did an amazing job and even got in an SIC charter of fresh fruit, vegetables and milk.”

Good Shepherd’s next trip is scheduled for Tuesday, but Mr Thomson said he would be keeping a “wadder eye” on the charts and might vary the sailing date by a day or two if that was more practical.

About Peter Johnson

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as an employed and freelance reporter and editor for a variety of print and broadcast media outlets and as as a freelance photographer and film maker/cameraman. In addition to journalism, I have experience in construction, oil analysis, aquaculture, fisheries, the health service and oral history.

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One comment

  1. ross thomson

    The good shepherd is a life line for the isle. An aging boat with poor facilities at grutness . The skipper and crew do an amazing job , and have done for generations . With out an isle based boat for places like fair isle the service would be limited which would then be a major negative for any small community . Safe sailing.
    R Thomson
    Glasgow
    ( Fair Isle)

    Reply

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