Isles Views 10.04.09

Fishing at Rockall

Cullivoe in North Yell has always been a fishing port where fishermen have strived to make a living from the sea, although this has never been an easy life.

However the 87-foot whitefish boat Guardian Angell has gone further from her home port than any local boat has ever gone before.

Skipper Michael Henderson explained that, as a boat carrying a single crew, they were rationed to 160 days at sea each year and this was simply not enough to ensure a livelihood. Therefore they were left with the stark choice of tying up at the pier and facing the ongoing expenses or going to the fishing grounds near Rockall where the days at sea rule does not apply.

Rockall is to be found well out into the Atlantic Ocean, 264 miles north west of Donegal and 287 miles from Ardnamurchan in Scotland. It is a bare rock 82 feet across at the base and 80 feet high.

To get to the fishing grounds meant steaming for two days and Michael said the trip there was done in fine weather. Indeed the six days spent fishing there was good as well but the journey home again was horrendous. They had a 50 knot wind and mountainous seas.

Michael is a very experienced seaman but he said that he had never seen swell as deep as that in the North Sea. The stage from Rockall to the Butt of Lewis was the worst part with the Guardian Angell rolling almost on to her beam-ends. In all it took them 46 hours to reach Peterhead.

During the fishing time they had the company of another Shetland boat, the Venturous from Whalsay. The two skippers kept in close contact and this was valued by Michael. However, he is resentful of the situation that forces him and his crew to go to Rockall in what is still winter. Like many of his fellow fishermen he feels that the whole quota and conservation system has to be overhauled.

“I’m hopeful that something will be done because there is more unity among fishermen then ever before,” he said.

In terms of fishing the trip was successful: they landed over 500 boxes, mostly haddock. There was a smattering of cod, some monkfish and about 100 boxes of really big saithe.

One thing Michael found surprising was the fact that the fish caught near Rockall were about six or eight weeks behind the North Sea fish in their life cycle. The Rockall fish have not yet spawned, they are still full of delicious raans.

Skipper Henderson does not rule out the possibility of going back to Rockall, but he says it is no place to be in winter. However, if the rules are not changed they might have no option.

At the time of writing Michael and his wife Wilma are on tenterhooks, waiting, with as much patience as they can muster, for the arrival of their first grandchild.

Remote working Working from Unit 2 at the Sellsfirth Business Park, Initiative at the Edge North Isles Ltd is now in a position to offer more and enhanced services to local groups and businesses. They offer a comb binding service for documents like business plans, feasibility studies, reports and presentations.

They offer desk hire with fully equipped work stations, and can provide meeting rooms and the possibility of video conferencing as well as a great many other office services and facilities.

Jackie Smiles said they had recently done a major job for a development group’s feasibility study and by so doing it has saved a lot of money, avoiding freight and ferry charges to the mainland.

Although the offices are situated in Yell it should be remembered that there is free ferry travel to and from Unst and Fetlar and Sellafirth is only a five-minute drive from the ferry terminal at Gutcher.

Unst medical practice

Unst GP Andrew Hamilton has completed his practice evaluations that are done each year.

This year the sample covered 40 patients taken over one week. His scores were generally down on last year but they were still above the national average in all areas.

Dr Hamilton explained that nearly all patients are seen the same day but if not they are seen the following day. There is a time set aside when patients can speak directly to the doctor and there is an evening surgery every first and third Thursday of the month.

Dr Hamilton has been very busy of late with out-of-hours calls. At the moment the practice does not have an associate doctor and locums are used for cover. The new health visitor starts work on 11th May but there is no midwife on the isle at present. NHS Shetland is planning to re-organise midwifery services through Shetland.

Dr Hamilton is still pushing to get the surgery expanded and, ideally, to include a dental suite. He is still waiting for NHS Shetland to get the car park tarred; it is in poor condition at present.

Lee joins family firm

Last week we reported that James John Jamieson had retired from RG Jamieson & Son in Cullivoe.

Lee Jamieson has replaced him, becoming the fourth generation to be involved in the family firm.

Robert G Jamieson (Bobby) founded the firm in the aftermath of the First World War and his son Laurie, along with Gordon, Bobby’s grandson, took up the reins. After Laurie’s death his son Robert Henry came into the business and joined forces with Gordon. Together they built up the fleet of modern vehicles on the road at present. Gordon retired from the company and, sadly, died four years ago.

Lee says that being the first of the fourth generation means a lot to him and he is excited at the prospect of working alongside his father Robert. It is what he wanted to do from an early age. As soon as he was old enough he passed his PSV test and has driven whenever he was needed for the last couple of years.

Lee went off to Heriot Watt University in 2004 and studied accountancy and finance but he always had the intention of coming back to Cullivoe and always had it in mind that his qualifications would be useful to RG Jamieson & Son.

Already he looks forward to two trips to Orkney and a trip to Aberdeen. When he has gained more experience he hopes to take tours south and abroad. But now, at the age of 22, he has committed himself to the family firm.

His ambition is to see his children and the children of his sister Alice and brother Jack (none of them have children as yet), succeed them as a fifth generation of Jamiesons in their long-established business.

Bargain hunt

A popular daytime programme on television is Bargain Hunt, where two teams of two are given £300 each to buy antiques that are sold at auction with the object of making a profit.

Last Thursday the auctioneer was someone who is known to many folk in the North Isles – Sir Patrick Cheyne, son of the late Sir Joseph who used to live in the Haa of Gloup, Cullivoe.

Sir Patrick became the 4th Baronet on the death of his father in February 2007 and he is an antiques expert who has an auction house in Hale, Cheshire. The Cheyne family are closely associated with Fetlar. The 1st Baronet of Leagarth, Fetlar, was Sir William Watson Cheyne who worked closely with Lord Lister pioneering the development of antiseptic surgery.

Sir Patrick’s brother John is quite well known in Shetland especially to those involved in tourist guiding. John worked for the Orkney and Shetland Touring Company when they had an office in Mounthooly Street in Lerwick.

Yell churches together

Yell Churches Together have organised a United Easter Service in the Mid Yell kirk on Easter Sunday. Alma Lewis says that it is an ecumenical service and warmly invites everyone to join in. There will be teas in the kirk and donations will go to the CLAN 1,2,3 appeal.

Fill a Bag for £5

On Saturday 11th, Thursday 16th and Saturday 18th April the Cancer Research Shop in Aywick is having “Fill a Bag for£5” days – they even supply the bags.

Manageress Penny Williams invites everyone to take this opportunity to grab bargains. The shop is open from 1pm until 5pm on those days and there will be a complete change of stock on Thursday 23rd.

Farmers’ Market

The first Farmers’ Market of the year in Yell will take place on 12th April from 11am until 2pm in the Burravoe Hall. To book a table phone Michelle Morris at the Initiative at the Edge Office on (01957) 744394.

Guide Dogs for the Blind

A coffee morning was held in Burravoe to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Margaret Towriess would like to thank everyone who supported this event £181 was raised from takings and donations.

Lawrence Tulloch


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