Historic vessel overturns at sailing festival

An historic vessel with strong isles connections overturned in high winds during a festival in Aberdeenshire.

The former Shetland fishing boat Reaper.
The former Shetland fishing boat Reaper.

The Reaper blew onto her side while at Johnshaven Harbour, shortly after she had been opened to the public.

One person was taken to hospital after the weekend incident.

Firefighters attended the scene and pumped water from her hull, and she was later re-floated.

Built in 1902, the herring drifter was one of many boats of her kind in the 20th century – and, as seen from the photo, looks remarkably similar to sail-training vessel, Swan.

Measuring 70 feet in length, Reaper was originally given a Fraserburgh registration of FR 958, before being sold to new owners in Shetland six years later and re-registered LK 707.

The vessel was first built as a sailing lugger, but had an engine installed in 1916.

She soon gained recognition, and by the late 1930s was netting record numbers of herring around the isles. Her fishing activities continued until the outbreak of the Second World War. At that point, she was requisitioned by the Admiralty, and found herself serving in the south English coast.

Following the war’s end, she returned to the isles, mostly fishing out of Scalloway until the late 1950s.

Her name was later changed to Shetlander after she was bought by the local authority. She was used as a “flit boat”, ferrying general cargoes. But she stopped being used in 1974. The council later sold the vessel to the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Fife.

She was taken down to Anstruther, on the Kingdom’s east coast, where she underwent an extensive restoration.

At that point she was renamed Reaper and was once again given her original Fraserburgh registration.

Responsibility for maintenance of the boat was taken on by a group of volunteers in 1985. They operate, until this day, under the banner of the Museum Boats Club.

They oversaw a refit from October 2004 until April 2005.
Reaper now forms part of the core collection of the National Historic Ships Fleet.

She is kept berthed in Anstruther Harbour, and operates as a floating museum depicting the history of the herring industry. But she visits ports around Scotland and northern English ports.


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