Isles Views 11.07.08

Flugga Boats’ success

Father and son Jack and Brydon Barclay, who own the Unst firm Flugga Boats, are back home after a highly successful trip to the Seawork Exhibition in Southampton.

They took south one of their workboats, a 9.3 metre vessel with a Cummins diesel and Hamilton jet, full wheelhouse, sprung seats and all the usual electronics.

Jack describes their boats as “very solid and stable, not toys or posh bits of kit, just honest workboats fitted with our own plastic collar”. This feature always creates interest, and it was important that they were able to launch the boat and demonstrate it to potential customers.

The Barclays had an appointment with the MoD, which lasted a lot longer than was originally intended. They seemed to buy in to the concept, leaving Jack and Brydon “a bit stunned”. When Brydon went of to get a cuppa Jack had a visit from representatives of the Metropolitan Police – they were quite keen too and explained how those boats could fit into their plans.

Jack says they were very proud when the big company Vosper Thorneycroft asked them to collaborate on an order, and they had to remind themselves that they were a tiny business. It is not the first time that a Flugga Boat has been seen in Southampton, as they were there in 2006.

Much progress has been made since then and this particular boat is called North Star. The name came as a result of a competition run in the Baltasound School. It was Dione Paul who chose the name and one admirer at the show commented that she was aptly named.

Housing in Yell

Hjaltland Housing has announced that it will not start the building of new houses in Cullivoe this year.
The reason given is the cutbacks in grant assistance. However, hope is expressed that funding will increase in the next financial year.

This comes as very disappointing news for Yell where there is an acute housing shortage that hinders development and efforts to retain population. Housing projects in Aith and Eshaness are similarly affected.

Excursion to Muckle Flugga

The latest of the Yell Sound ferry cruises took place last Sunday. Brydon Thomason took the lead in organising the Daggri trip where the emphasis was on wildlife, birds and sea mammals.

The cruise was a sell out so when the Daggri left Toft there were 150 folk on board including Helen Moncrieff and others from the RSPB Scottish Natural Heritage and assistant archaeologist Chris Dyer.

The intention was to circumnavigate Yell, Unst and Fetlar but the strong north-easterly wind put paid to any hopes of rounding Muckle Flugga. As expected the ride got rather bumpy in the mouth of Yell Sound and off the Holm of Gloup, so much so that some passengers felt the need to lie down.

Calmer waters were found near the Unst shore at Woodwick where a teabreak was called. After that the Daggri edged north into to Tonga Wick and Muckle Flugga came in sight.

On these trips the masters allow the passengers, a few at a time, to visit the wheelhouse. Many are amazed at the amount of equipment and gismos and all are impressed by the masters and crews. Young men dress immaculately in uniform, engineering staff and deck hands wear smart overalls and the officers wear white shirts and black trousers – they could all be mistaken for the crew of a jumbo jet.

Last Sunday the master of the Daggri was Neil Thomson, the mate was Gib Clark and engineers were David Scollay and Keith Smith.

Unst angling

In ideal conditions, light easterly winds, Unst Angling Club held its Species Sea Angling competition on Saturday 28th June with nine seniors and four juniors taking part.

Colin Laurenson won the Ellis Shield with seven species; Sydney Priest and Duncan Gray had six species each; and Andy Jamieson had five.

In the juniors Heather Gray won the Bull and Bush Cup with six species while Stewart Ferguson had four.
The Lakeland Cup for the best percentage of any Shetland record was also contested. The dogfish caught by Victor Gray and the sand eel caught by Colin Laurenson were exactly equal, each was exactly 77 per cent of their respective species records.

Trails Leaflets

When John Laughland set about creating Trails Leaflets for the North Isles he was inspired by two quotations.
The first came from the great Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson who said: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I go for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

In the second Henry Miller said: “One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”

The leaflets are intended to attract more visitors to the North Isles and they seek to highlight the many places of interest, from the eerieness of Windhouse and Lund House to the wildlife and awe-inspiring cliffs full of puffins as well as a wide variety of other sea birds.

The information booklet contains a wealth of information about places to eat and drink, accommodation, filling stations etc. that might well persuade visitors to stay longer.

While the “Discover, Yell, Unst and Fetlar” trail may take several days to complete the “Stones, Sea and Settlements” can be managed in a single day. It begins in Gloup, Yell, at the fishermen’s memorial and ends at the Iron Age broch of Underhoull in Unst. There is also the opportunity of treating this section as a circular walk starting from the standing stone at Bordastubble.

The leaflets try to promote a responsible attitude to visiting the countryside and include the following advice: remember to take litter home; keep dogs under control; close gates; respect privacy; keep to the field edge; and keep away from livestock and ground nesting birds.

John Laughland adds a third quotation, this time from Confucius: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Herra eela

The second annual Herra eela competition was held last Saturday.

The boats left the pier at 1.30pm in ideal weather conditions but the voe was a bit choppy in places. All were back by the deadline time of 6pm and Laurie Henry Johnson transported the catches to the hall for the weigh-in.

The first prize with the most species went to the crew of David Robertson, Nikki Finnie, Craig Bruce and Magnus Thompson. In second place with the heaviest fish were Robert, Patricia and Ivan Odie. Third were Stuart and Harry Bruce, Raymond Strachan and Neil Petrie. James Gray had to leave the competition early but he was given a prize for his efforts.

The prizegiving took place later in the evening and everyone enjoyed a meal of mince and tatties. The Herra Hall committee would like to thank everyone who took part or helped in any way.

Old Haa exhibition

The latest art exhibition on display in the Old Haa is by Jim Tait. It is of great interest locally because many of the paintings, oils on hardboard, are of the fishing boats that used to fish out of Yell ports. Many of the seine-netters of yesteryear had a sameness about them but on a closer inspection they all had characteristics that made them into individuals.

It might be the slant of a derrick, the angle of a mast or an aerial that made the difference and all this Jim has captured right down to very accurate colours that makes every boat look just right.

There are 16 paintings in all, most of them of fishing boats but some of them are of Lerwick waterfront and there is one of the unmistakeable Drongs of Eshnaness.

Also in the Old Haa but unrelated to Jim’s work is a display entitled Nauticalia in the cabinets. It is a collection of objects that shows all manner of sailorly skills – rope work, ships in bottles, shell craft, carved whales teeth and much more. Those most attractive exhibitions will be on display until the end of July.

West Yell quizes

The quiz nights held regularly in the West Yell Hall are popular at any time of the year.

Ruby Polson, who sets the questions with her husband Hamish, wants everyone to know that the July quiz has had to be brought forward a week to the 13th.


Last week, in my column, I said the British Heart Foundation concert in East Yell was tomorrow. In fact it is tonight. Sorry for the error.

Lawrence Tulloch


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