Shetland Museum and Archives is to join forces with the Dim Riv Committee to enable greater use of the museum’s sixareen.
At a meeting of Shetland Amenity Trust this week, museum curator Ian Tait said that previously, staffing issues had prevented the boats being used as part of the museum’s wider learning resources.
The museum currently hires in skilled people with expertise in a number of areas, such as weaving, knitting or art and crafts, to assist them in providing learning experiences.
Hiring in the committee of the Viking long ship Dim Riv as expert rowers will allow the museum extend this and offer “hands on” learning about their boats.
Speaking after the meeting, Dr Tait said: “It would enable us to offer a greater degree of utilisation for the sixareens for the general public. The public are interested in activities you can actually do – you can come and look at exhibitions and listen to lectures for example but as far as hands on experience … to an extent our ability to provide that was limited, staffing resources couldn’t stretch.”
Dim Riv committee members had originally contacted the trust to enquire about help with funding.
Neil Robertson of the Dim Riv committee said: “The plan is to pool resources. We’d been struggling with the Dim Riv and they’d been struggling to get anything done with their boats so we thought we could pool resources and get more done.”
He said the committee has seen a drop in ticket sales and in volunteers, but that this partnership would hopefully boost both. The Dim Riv long ship will continue to be used as well, meaning people will have a choice of which historical vessel they take a trip on.
Referring to the partnership and the Dim Riv being out again, Mr Robertson said: “We’re looking forward to it, last year she wasn’t in the water as repairs were being done, but the repairs are more or less finished and this year we’ll definitely have her in the water, for Hamefarin especially.”
Built in 2008, the Vaila Mae was the first boat built in the restored boat shed and the first sixareen to be built in Lerwick in 100 years. She was launched during the Johsnmas Foy in 2008 alongside the Museum’s herring boat the Laura Kay.
Dr Tait said the partnership will give plenty of opportunities for those interested in the history of the sixareen, in rowing or simply those wanting to be rowed around the harbour, the chance to do this.
He said: “We wanted to fulfil that expectation however and in this partnership we’ll also be helping a community group.”
Dr Tait said the boats will be available for hire primarily in the summer months, but that the details of when, and contact details for the hire of the boats, would be publicised later in the year.