By RYAN TAYLOR
Shetland’s sail training ship the Swan could soon be touting for business as a classy dinner venue or an unusual suite for executive functions.
Steps are underway to find new ways of using the vessel during the winter months instead of having her tied up doing nothing and failing to earn her keep.
Swan trust members admit running costs are difficult at this time of year when the hundreds of people who sail on her in the summer are just a distant memory.
The move to showcase the vessel as an intriguing venue for diners or business clients has been put forward as a novel way to plug the funding gap.
It came to light when members of Lerwick Port Authority received a letter from trust chairman Allister Rendall seeking funding for cups and plates.
Mr Rendall said the old, mismatched crockery needed to be replaced if the vessel was to succeed as a dining venue.
A unique dinner set is not cheap, however – particularly as it involves a one-off production-run of new plates and mugs. Port authority members were warned the estimated cost for a full set of crockery is around £2,500 when they met on Tuesday.
They agreed to put up £1,250 towards the cost. The other half is being provided by Shetland Catch.
Chief executive Sandra Laurenson said the vessel could become “something we might use” if the donation was given the go-ahead.
“This is the Swan trust trying to do more of its own fund-raising, and they are looking to offer hospitality on board,” she said.
“They feel it could be done better if they had new crockery. It seems a high price but it’s due to the set-up costs.
“We could organise a meeting or a small reception on board. It’s good that they are showing initiative to do fund-raising like that.”
In the meantime, the Swan’s profile is becoming increasingly higher. The training ship has been asked to represent Shetland during next year’s Tall Ships event, and is due to make appearances in Aalborg in Denmark, Norway’s Kristiansand and – back in the UK – at Hartlepool.