Three men in a boat will soon be operating one of Shetland’s key tourism businesses, taking up to 3,000 visitors a year to the uninhabited Mousa.
Lerwick photographer Garry Sandison and lobster fishermen Alan Pottinger, of Cunningsburgh, and Burra man Jimmy Fullerton, are taking over the pleasure boat business which has been run by Tom and Cynthia Jamieson since 1971.
The three are no strangers to working together, although the last time they collaborated was on a rather different vessel. All three worked on the whitefish trawler Donvale, which was skippered by Mr Fullerton.
That vessel was decommissioned in 2003, but the MV Solan IV, which is capable of carrying up to 60 sight-seers on a busy day, will help ensure the trio can still take to the waters.
The deal will help visitors to the isles continue to see Mousa’s famous landmark – the broch – and spectacular wildlife.
Many tourists are attracted to the well-known tower, which is among the best preserved prehistoric buildings in Europe.
Mr Sandison said he was eager to see the vessel remain in the isles.
He added having a share in boat would help him to develop his photography business, which he set up on a full time basis in 1995 when he left the fishing.
“I saw the Mousa ferry advertised in the mainland. I spoke to somebody in Cunningsburgh and they said Tom had been taking pictures to send to the mainland. I thought, if the boat is sold to the mainland that will be the end of it.
“Alan and I were speaking about it and we thought if we could get three of us we could make a go of it.”
He declined to say how much money the three had paid for the business, but said no public funds have been involved in the deal.
Mr Sandison paid tribute to Mr and Mrs Jamieson, who have worked on the business since taking it over from the late Peter Smith, who died in 1971.
“Tom and Cynthia have spent the last 41 years building up the relationship with the tourist trade. What we want to do is carry on where they have left off.”
The only difference, he said, would be the addition of wildlife tours, which could tie in with Mr Sandison’s photography business.
Operating the boat trips will allow him to take more wildlife photography. The other partners involved will also carry on operating their respective businesses.
“The thinking is to have two on and one off, so each one of us can carry on running our businesses as they have been running.”
He added the intention was to operate from the Sandsayre pier – the traditional starting-off point for trips to Mousa, although recent renovation works forced the boat to leave from Cunningsburgh instead.