The historic sixareen Far Haaf is to make a special appearance at next month’s Shetland Boat Week, thanks to Unst Heritage Trust and the Shetland Ex-Whalers Association.
The boat, which is based at the Unst Boat Haven, is actually a remake of the original Far Haaf which was destroyed in a storm in 1992. The current boat was built from the keel of the original boat, by Unst man Willie Mouat and Ian Best from Fair Isle.
Her appearance at the boat festival, alongside the Shetland Museum sixareen Vaila Mae, is described as a “very special occurrence” as a pair of full-size, traditional squaresail rigged sixareens will sail through Lerwick Harbour together for the first time in living memory.
The Far Haaf is expected to take to the water at Haroldswick for the first time in many years this weekend, ahead of her trip to Lerwick.
Boat week spokesman Brian Wishart explained the significance of having the only two remaining functional sailing sixareens together on the water.
He said: “I think it is virtually certain that there were not sixerns under traditional fishing rig (square sail or dipping lug) after the First World War.
“Sixerns often were turned into flitboats, under a standing lug and jib as a more manageable rig, before they were all gradually motorised.
“As far as we can tell, this will be the first time in over 100 years that two traditional square sail rig sixerns will be sailed side by side.”
Shetland Amenity Trust chairwoman Ruth Mackenzie added: “It’s an incredible honour that the Unst Heritage Trust have agreed to work with us to bring the Far Haaf and the Vaila Mae together.
“These are two iconic boats and there is much excitement all round that we will see them together on the water. We are very grateful to those in Unst, and to the Shetland Ex-Whalers Association for all coming together to make this happen.”
The ex-whalers group has agreed to donate the price for the insurance of the boat to make the trip. That will mean that the public will have an opportunity to sail in both vessels during the week.