Sunday, 18 November 2012
The "Swan" was built at Lerwick in 1900, and spent her first few years, under Lerwick owners, rigged as a lugger, as she long-lined for white-fish in spring, and took on drift-net gear for the summer herring fishing. She was bought by a Simpson-headed Whalsay partnership, who converted her to the fore-and-aft "smack" rig which she carries today. The sails disappeared as her main means of propulsion when she had an engine installed, and a wheelhouse fitted, in 1935. She fished on in this new "rig" until around 1960, participating in the new seine-net white-fishery from the late 1940s, long after most boats of her vintage had disappeared from the commercial fishing scene. She began a new career as a pleasure craft and houseboat south of the border, but fell into neglect, and actually sank at her moorings in W Hartlepool on several occasions. She was finally rescued from her plight, and the Swan Trust was formed in 1990 to restore her to her former glory as a sailing vessel. Her transformation was completed in 1996, since when she has been in regular use as a sailing boat, both running "tours" around Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles, and competing in Tall Ships Races.
Olsen's Almanack, in the 1938 and 1950 editions (and presumably the ones in between too!), has her details as 18 tons nett, engine 21hp, and owned by T H Simpson and others, Whalsay. Manson's Shetland Almanac and Directory of 1949 lists her as 44.1 tons (presumably gross!), 60.4 keel length, and 75hp of engine. I don't begin to understand the difference in engine rating between the two publications, but no doubt a marine engineer will tell me! I have read somewhere else that her overall length is 68 feet.
I've painted her against a background of the Bressay lighthouse and the cliffs of the Ord and Bard on the south end of the island. The painting is currently in for scanning at my printer's, and I have been promised giclees of this work (both A4 and A3) to be ready for next Saturday's Toll Clock Centre stall. They'll also be available for sale online (as will the original painting) through the website. www.tait-gallery.co.uk
Have a good week!