Shetland’s sail training ship the Swan recently returned from a 12-day trip to Faroe where, as always, the crew and passengers were made very welcome by the Faroese.
Although the boat is a regular visitor to Faroe, this trip had a special theme, celebrating the strong historical fishing links between the Faroese and the Shetlanders.
Local author John Goodlad was on board and he spoke at three events in Faroe about the time when many Shetlanders fished for cod around Faroe from sailing smacks.
Large crowds of Faroese attended the events in Torshavn, Sandoy and Suderoy where Mr Goodlad read extracts from his book, The Cod Hunters, about the many Faroese fishermen who used to crew on board the Shetland cod smacks and the many smacks that were eventually sold to Faroe.
The Suderoy event was rather special as it took place in the Thomsen sail loft which was where the Shetlanders used to buy cheap brandy and tobacco to smuggle back to Shetland. The audience were enthralled to learn just how huge and well organised the smuggling operation had been.
Such was the interest in the visit and the story, Mr Goodlad was interviewed by a Faroese television crew while on board. Local councils in both Torshavn and Suderoy also hosted receptions for Mr Goodlad and the Swan crew, to recognise the close historical ties between Faroe and Shetland, especially at the time of the cod fishery.
Published last year, The Cod Hunters includes many stories and all proceeds from the sale of the book, many copies of which were sold while in Faroe, are donated to the Swan Trust.
Mr Goodlad said: “I know how costly it is to maintain old wooden boats, and the Swan is no exception, but I also know how vital it is to keep our fishing heritage alive.
“From the hundreds of boats of this type which would once have been around Shetland, Faroe and Scotland we now only know of two of the Swan‘s size in existence, and the Swan is the only one currently operational as a sailing boat.
“The Swan Trust is dedicated to keeping Shetland’s historic sailing boat afloat and I cannot think of a better cause to donate the proceeds from the sale of my book.”
The Swan Trust was grateful to Mr Goodlad for his donation, and all the various organisations and individuals who help support its objectives. If anyone would like to find out more about how to support the Swan they can visit www.swantrust.com.