20th October 2018
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WATCH: Fine day for sailing as Peerie Boat Week ramps up

Peerie Boat Week kicked up a gear on Friday with a range of events taking place to celebrate Shetland’s maritime heritage this weekend.

An array of talks, workshops and boat trips are being offered, with many folk snapping up the opportunity to climb aboard the traditional sixareen the Vaila Mae on Friday morning.

Friday night sees historian Brian W Lavery discuss how widows of scores of men who died at sea changed the fishing industry following the “Dark Winter” disaster of 1968, when 58 Hull trawlermen lost their lives.

Saturday’s events include a sea shanty workshop led by Cait McCulloch.

She is visiting Shetland supported by Heriot-Watt University to give workshops and discussion sessions on maritime themes.

Various other boat tours, talks and children’s activities are planned over the weekend.

Event coordinator Emma Miller said boat trips had been held during the week and had been very popular.

She said there was a range of events for young and old, and there had been about 20 people setting sail in the Vaila Mae over the summer to learn traditional skills.

Ms Miller said it was important to pass knowledge and skills on for the future.

She said: “We’ve been doing the boat trips all week, so we’ve had up to five trips out each day either on the Vaila Mae or the Laura Kay. The Vaila Mae is the traditional sixareen boat, so she is the larger one with the traditional dipping lug sail.

“It’s quite an experience for folk to see that because it’s not just like a normal sailing boat; they actually have to hoist the sail and to turn the boat they basically pull it down, pass it round and put it back up again.”

One of the main aims of establishing Shetland Boat Week and Peerie Boat was to carry on traditional skills, she said

“The younger generation don’t have the opportunity to sail the traditional dipping lug sail, or square sail as some folk call it. So we’ve got a pool of about 15 to 20 folk that have been going out on a weekly basis to learn basically how to sail this boat,” added Ms Miller.

Among the visitors waiting by the lifejackets was 79-year-old Scot Gilchrist from Cornwall.

Mr Gilchrist, whose wife if from New Zealand, was making his first visit to Shetland and is the proud owner of a maid boat, built by isles builder Jimmy Smith.

Island Maid in Maori is still in his possession and Mr Gilchrist said he would like to find her a new home in Shetland.

“I was the skipper of a large yacht in Cornwall and I was sent to the London Boat Show,” he said.

“…This was in 1962 and Shetland Marine or somebody had a stand with a maid boat and I ordered one.

“My wife wasn’t very pleased because we didn’t even have a bed. We were sleeping on the floor on old mattresses, so when I returned home and said I had ordered a boat from the Shetland she wasn’t too pleased.”

More in Friday’ Shetland Times.

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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