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For much of the most interesting information in this chapter I am indebted to Mr. Robert Duthie of the Scotch Fishery Board.


Fife or Fifie Model

ON the east coast of Scotland, from the English borders to Whitehills in Banffshire, and along the coasts of Caithness and the Orkney Islands (and during the last twenty-five years, the Shetlands also), the boats used in the herring fishing have always been of the Fifie build, with very little rake on either stem or stern.

Sixty years ago these boats only measured some 30 to 35 feet of keel ; they were clinker-built, and of light draught of water. About the middle of the century fore cabins began to be introduced, and the length of keel gradually increased, till by the end of the 'sixties 40 feet was the usual length for a new boat.

The herring fishing had hitherto been confined to the inshore waters ; but fishermen now began to push farther seawards in search of the herring shoals ; full decks began to come into use, a large open hatchway being provided to facilitate the working of the nets.

Decked boats were first built by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in order to prove to the fishermen the greater comfort and safety to be derived from full decks. From 1867 onwards the fashion steadily grew as the advantages became more and more apparent.

As fishermen have continued pushing farther and farther to sea, both at the herring and the cod and ling fishings, the tendency has been to increase the size of boat. The carvel build, first used in the Firth of Forth, has almost entirely superseded the clinker or clench build in the case of first-class boats.

The model has also been greatly altered. Instead of the old round, tub-shaped craft of half a century ago, those now being built are finely modelled vessels of 60 to 70 feet, with yacht-like lines, longer keels, deeper bilge and greater draught of water, especially aft.

The usual rig of the east coast fishing-boat is the lugsail, with jib and mizen, different sizes of the latter being used according to the state of the weather. A big jib and mizen, both of which require 'booms,'*1* are used in fine weather. When it blows hard, these long booms are both taken in ; but a small mizen, with shorter boom, is always used when going closehauled, even when under low sail.


Owing to the length of these boats, there would always be risk of their missing stays if no mizen were used, as the sail would then be all upon the fore part of the boat. Even in very rough weather, therefore, a small jib-headed mizen is used to keep the boat up to the wind, and facilitate the process of staying. *2*

*1* In Scotland 'boom' is used for any out-rigged spar, whether bowsprit or jigger-boom, fore or aft.

*2* The cost of one of these boats, including steam hauling gear, sails and other outfit, used to be from £500 to £600, but cannot now be quoted at less than £700, owing to increased cost of material and other causes.

One recently built at Fraserburgh was 66 ft. keel and 70 ft. over stems ; 21 ft. beam outside gunwale, and 20 ft. inside plank ; 7 ft. deep inside, and 40 tons register. The carpenter's account was £430 ; iron work, £52 ; sails and outfit, £150, and steam hauling gear, £105 ;-total, £737 ; and the following outfit of sails, etc., was provided:

Foremast, 64 ft. long by 1 ft. 8 inches at the deck ; mizen-mast, 55 ft. by 1 ft. 2 inches at the deck ; jib-boom, 54 ft. by 1 ft. 1-1/2 inches ; foresail, 310 yards ; jib, 150 yards ; big mizen, 210 yards ; winter mizen, 150 yards ; jib-headed mizen, 90 yards ; mid storm mizen, 40 yards. The boat has also two canvas drogues or floating anchors ; one, the old tow net-shaped canvas cone, and the other, topsail-shaped, such as is carried aboard the smacks that go to the Faroe and Iceland cod-fishing. These drogues are also termed 'fly anchors' by the fishermen. They are often used to check the way of the boat when running into a crowded harbour. For this purpose it is placed on the quarter, with a short rope fast to it, ready for heaving over before the entrance is approached.

The large modern Scotch boats all carry steam-winch or capstan for hauling nets and hoisting sail - a device first developed by the Cornish boats - as well as in most cases a 13 to 15 foot dinghy.

In staying small lug-sailed boats the yard is usually dipped ; but with all the larger boats the sail is lowered to the deck, unhooked from the traveller, hooked upon the Burton stay, and swung aft and then forward on the other side of the mast. The process is a dangerous one in rough weather. Some crews occasionally carry a working sail at the great line fishing in winter and spring, and they are thus able to have a sail ready on each side of the mast, lowering one and setting the other every tack, the working sail being generally smaller than the other, often the sail of an old boat. When 'beating in' lines with a lug-sailed boat, the tack is usually at the foot of the mast, and the Burton stay set up on the side opposite the halyards, to strengthen the mast. The Scotch lugsails are generally made with reef cringles all the way up the luff and leech of the sail at intervals. I have counted thirteen such cringles on a fore-lug. All are meant for use when required. Scotch fishermen never take their mizens forward as the Cornishmen do, unless the foresail has given way. The bunch of canvas, after reefing, is heavy and awkward to handle.

The large mizen is always of lighter canvas than the foresail, as it is only for use in moderate weather. Moray Firth fishermen often keep a complete winter rig for their big boats. The winter spars are shorter, and the sails smaller than in summer.


The lug rig is more than holding its own among the Scotch of the east coast. For this there are probably several reasons. First, the smack-rigged boats that have been discarded were getting too small, and their owners going in for larger boats preferred the rig they were accustomed to. Secondly, many of the smack-rigged boats were rather flat below the counter, and thus struck hard in a seaway. The counter is not a favourite among fishermen, and apparently they are easily put off it back to the old build, and with that to the old rig. The Moray Firth sailmakers have not had a tithe of the experience of making smack sails that they have of lugs. The result is that they have attained to a high state of perfection in making lugsails (and in fact in their own way turn out sails as good as anything made by yacht sailmakers) ; but they have not made the same progress with fore-and-aft sails, and really do not turn out the same class of work when they get an order for the latter.

Then the simplicity and lack of gear about the lug rig, and the handiness with which everything can be unshipped, makes it par excellence the sail of the drift-net fisherman.


Finally, the modern shape of high-peaked lug, into which the old-fashioned squareheaded sails have developed, is unequalled for set and speed-giving power.


Smack-rigged Herring-Boats *1*

Among the villages lying between Fraserburgh and Macduff, the smack rig came a good deal into favour during the seventies and eighties, but of recent years curiously enough, the tendency has been to drop this rig in favour of the lugsail.

*1* i.e. cutter-rigged, or in some cases with a mizen. The term is used among fishermen for any fore-and-aft rigged vessel, whether strictly cutter, dandy, or ketch-wherever, in fact, the gaff and boom mainsail is used as opposed to the lug rig.

The fishermen belonging to these villages have, for the greater part of the nineteenth century, regularly fished cod and ling in the Minch from Cape Wrath southwards to Barra Head and Mull ; they have also followed the herring fishing at Stornoway and other stations in the Hebrides ; and during the last quarter of the century they have regularly prosecuted both the long line and herring fishings among the Orkney and Shetland Islands. In the narrow lochs and sounds of these waters this rig was found very convenient and easy to work. It was a handy rig for 'beating in' lines, and free from the risk to life incident to staying a lugsailed boat. Fishermen also found it much more economical. A smack's sails will, it is said, last longer than a lugger's ; and owing to the support given by shrouds or standing rigging, there is much less risk of the mast carrying away. With lugsailed boats such accidents are quite common ; and even apart from accidents, the cost of upkeep of masts and spars is very heavy.

Upon a long course, however, and in light winds, the lug rig has been found to be undoubtedly the faster of the two. Owing to the great distances that the Scotch fishermen have lately been going, both to the fishing-grounds off their own coasts and to distant stations such as Yarmouth, Kinsale, and Shetland, and the fact that auction sales have almost entirely superseded the old 'engagement' system, it has become imperative that fishermen should get as early to market as possible, as first arrivals usually command the best prices. They therefore look now upon speed as a necessity, and not merely an advantage or a matter for pride.


Second-hand smack-rigged boats are eagerly bought up by the Shetland fishermen, who have, for many years, kept in touch with the villages where these boats could be got. When none were for sale, their orders for new boats have generally been placed with carpenters in that locality. These Shetland fishermen have only used big boats in the herring fishery for about a quarter of a century.

Being accustomed to smack-sails in the vessels used at the Faroe and Iceland cod fishing, and having experience of similar sails in trading vessels, they have taken much more readily to smacks than to luggers.


A good many of these old smack boats are also to be found along the west coast of Ross-shire, in Loch Broom, Gairloch, etc., where they suit the narrow waters, and can be worked either as fishing or trading vessels, by a much smaller crew than a lugsailed boat requires.

It may be noted that many of the young Highlanders, like the Shetlanders, sail in the merchant service in winter, and go as hired fishermen from the Moray Firth ports in summer. When two or three of them wish to settle down at home, they find it a good plan to bring home a boat, preferably a smack, with them from the east coast.


The Skaffie

From Portsay westwards along the Banff and Moray coasts, and round the eastern seaboard of Ross-shire, until within the last twenty years, the

Skaffie *1* or 'Buckie Skaffie,' as it was often known, was universally used in the herring fishing. This boat differed materially from the Fifie model. Both stems *2* were very much raked, and the forestem was generally much curved. The Skaffie was broader, with a flatter bottom (though generally deep keel), and with a consequent bluffness about the bow and quarters. Fishermen found this boat much readier to answer the helm in stays than the old Fifie model, and this was a great advantage when 'beating in' lines, or beating into a narrow bay channel. The old-fashioned Fifie did not turn readily when under low sail.

*1* Houldsworth in his Deep-Sea Fishing, 1874, mentions these boats under the name Scaith.

*2* It will he noticed that in Scotland, where double-ended, or bowed, or sharp-sterned boats, as sailors variously term them, are the rule, the term 'stem' is used to cover both stem and stern posts.

Beating into such places as Wick Bay or Stornoway Loch the Skaffie showed a decided superiority. There was also more deck-room on the Skaffie in proportion to the tonnage of the boat, and this was an advantage at the herring fishing, especially twenty-five years ago, when the boats were much smaller than they are now.


Advocates of the Fifie model argued that shortness of keel had certain drawbacks as well as advantages, and that a Skaffie when struck on the quarter by a heavy sea would be much more liable to broach to than a Fifie ; and that the former boat, from the construction of the bows, would also labour harder in heavy weather. It is said that it was no unusual thing for one or two timbers to be broken through slamming in a head-wind and heavy sea.

In this evenly matched contest of two very distinct types of craft, it may be inferred that neither model possessed any material advantages over the

other, otherwise the fittest would have survived and the other would have been discarded, whereas in fact a compromise has been the result, of which the modern Zulu is the outcome.

The rig of the Skaffie did not differ greatly from that of the Fifie.



The most noticeable point of difference was a much greater proportionate breadth in the lower half of the foresail. Owing to the shortness of keel, especially at the forefoot, this was required to keep the boat to the wind.

Houldsworth, *1* however, figures a scaith of his day as carrying what was practically a main lug, though slightly smaller than the big forelug, well in the middle of the boat, with a small mizen right aft sheeted to a short boom.

*1* 1874. The dimensions given are 41 ft. over all, 13 ft. beam, 4 ft. 9 inches depth of hold. The large Fifie of that day was 34 ft. 6 inches over all to 13 ft. beam.


This rig seems to have gone out of fashion, the forelug being increased in size, along the foot, and given greater peak, as in all the Scotch lugs of the present day, and the mainsail carried further aft, and turned into a large mizen.

It is interesting to note that at that time the mizen even in the Fifie was placed so far amidships as not to need an outrigged boom, and to be termed by Houldsworth a 'main' lug, and he goes so far as to point out the great advantages to be derived from the mizen as used by English fishermen. A spar bowline seems to have been used in the scaith to set taut the luff of the sail, called by the Scotch fishermen a 'wand' or 'set.'


The Zulu

William Campbell of Lossiemouth was the first fisherman to attempt to combine the good points of the Fifie and the Skaffie models.


In the year 1878 he got a boat built named the Nonesuch, with the fore stem and bows of a Fifie, and the stern modelled on the lines of a Skaffie. Fishermen at once dubbed the new model Zulu, from our then redoubtable enemies in South Africa. This boat came rapidly into favour with the Moray Firth fishermen, and has entirely superseded the Skaffie. A few of the latter are still to be seen in use at the smaller stations in the upper part of the Moray Firth, but none have been built for many years.

The Zulu is also to a certain extent supplanting the Fifie, as a few boats of this description are being introduced all along the east coast, even as far south as the Berwick district. The introduction of steering wheels some fifteen years ago instead of helms or fillers has facilitated this innovation. Fishermen who had not been accustomed to it from their boyhood found great difficulty in shipping a Skaffie's rudder, which in the days when helms were used was always unshipped and taken on board the boat as soon as the nets were shot at night. The worse the weather, the more arduous the job when the rudder had to be shipped into position again after the nets were hauled in the morning. This difficulty has now been removed by the introduction of the wheel and fixed rudder.

The advantages claimed for the Zulu are, that it stays as well as a Skaffie, and will lie as close to the wind and go as easily through a heavy head-sea as a boat of the Fifie build. The deep fore-foot gives greater grip to windward, and prevents that falling off from a head-sea which is often so dangerous. The length of the boat above water, too, admits of a great spread of canvas in light winds, with consequent increase of speed. *1* It is curious that in the modern Zulu we find the straight forefoot combined with the raking stern-post and sharp stern which are to be seen in some of the Brittany luggers in the Bay of Biscay, and which have long been used in the Cornish luggers. The raking of the stern-post has been much increased in some of the latter of late years, just as in modern yachts. It enables the under water-lines of the body to be carried out more finely without resorting to a long counter, and consequently adds to the speed as well as to the turning-power of the boat.


*1* The largest Zulus run to 61 ft. keel and 88 ft. over all. When driving hard, a whole fleet of these boats will be logging over 10 knots together.

In one respect all the Scotch boats, of whatever build, contrast remarkably with the Cornish, and that is in the relative draught of water at bow and stern. The Cornish boat draws considerably more water aft than forward, and has consequently greater lateral resistance aft, and the centre of lateral resistance being so far back, a proportionately larger mizen and less head-sail become necessary.

The Scotch boat on the other hand which has to some extent grown, at all events in the case of the Fifie model of the east coast, out of a deep-bowed boat of coble type, has always retained a relatively deep and powerful forefoot and bow, and a shallower stern. The result is that the Scotch boat has been more of a one-sail boat, and having the centre of lateral resistance much further forward, the mizen has never played such an important part as in the Cornish lugger.

The Cornish boat when lying on the mud has the appearance of being tilted forward by reason of her deep keel ; the Scotch luggers, on the other hand, lie in their tidal harbours on a fairly level keel, and strike the observer by reason of the concentration of power forward. To this and to the large size to which the big

Fifies and Zulus now run, we are indebted for what is certainly the most remarkable single sail to be met with upon the seas outside the lateen, namely, the tall Scotch fore-lug. It is truly one of the finest sea sights of modern times to see this great brown pyramid come marching up out of the horizon, and go leaning by you at a ten-knot speed, the peak stabbing the sky as it lurches past some seventy feet above the water. The sense of strain and power is not so produced by any work of man at sea.

The unanimity with which Scotch fishermen as a whole have clung to the pointed stern is remarkable.

About the borders of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire a good many boats have been built with elliptical or counter sterns during the last thirty years or so. They were first built and owned at Pennan village, but they became fairly fashionable at Rosehearty also about a dozen years ago, and there are still a few in the neighbourhood. Like the Skaffies and Zulus, these boats bad more deck space in proportion than an ordinary Fifie, and this was at first a far greater advantage than it is now, when all boats are so large. The tendency, however, has lately been to revert back to the Fifie model, the disadvantages of the counter being generally considered by fishermen to outweigh its advantages.


Small Line Boats

Distinctive local types of small line boats are not so clearly marked or territorially limited on the east coast of Scotland as are the larger herring-boats. For inshore fishing, a long-shaped, low-built, open yawl of from 15 to 25 feet of keel, with lugsail and, in the ease of the larger yawls, jib, and occasionally also mainsail or mizen, used to be generally employed. The size of the boat depended a good deal upon the nature of the harbour or creek to which it belonged. On open beaches, where the yawls had to be launched daily, and drawn up again after returning from sea, it was imperative that the boat should be as light as possible.


As a result, the small line yawl used open creeks such as Cairnbuig and Inverallochy (near Fraserburgh) were low in the wood, of as light material as consistent with safety, and of very light draught of water. They could thus be easily floated off a flat beach, and they required no great quantity of ballast, which of course had to be put in and out daily. The timbers were 'stove-bent,' i.e. steamed then bent into shape. Only the best of wood stands this process, and much lighter material could used than with hewn timbers. In other words, these boats were built largely with a view to being easily pulled, as the small lines were generally worked under oars.

After fishermen had realised the advantages of having decks on herring-boats, they were not slow to apply the same improvement to their smaller boats, and now practically every fishing-boat round the Aberdeenshire coast, of 15 feet keel and upwards, is wholly or partially decked. Hatches are not generally used in boats under about 28 feet keel ; but even in these, waterways along the sides have been found most valuable in numerous cases where boats have been struck by sudden squalls which forced lee sides under water, or by heavy seas which but for the deck would otherwise have swamped them.

In such places as Fraserburgh and Peterhead, where there are safe harbours that can be taken at all states of the tide, the winter yawls are much larger, running up to 33 and 35 feet keel. These boats are built more after the model of a herring-boat (Fifie build) ; they are of strong material, full decked and hatched, and heavily ballasted. They have forecabins with sleeping and cooking accommodation for a full crew. They are rigged like the herring-boats, and the lines are worked under sail. Five men generally constitute the crew, both for small line and great line fishings.

These larger boats, from 25 feet keel and upwards, are generally known in Aberdeenshire and southwards as Baldies (or in Fifeshire parlance as 'Bauldies'). The name is a contraction for 'Garibaldi,' and was originally used in full in Aberdeenshire. Skiff is more generally applied to this boat among the eastern villages of Banffshire.

From the Deveron westwards along the shores of Banff and Moray, and to a great extent also in the Firths of Forth and Tay, fishermen have generally preferred to work small lines in their large herring boats, as they also work great lines.


At Newhaven, however, the Baldie seems to be sufficiently large to answer most of the requirements for fishing in the Firth of Forth, and a good many boats of the same kind are also used among the East of Fife villages, especially during the winter herring-fishing.

At other places on the east coast, for instance Fraserburgh and Peterhead, the tendency of recent years has been to use the large 60-feet herring-boat for all purposes, including small line fishing. With the increased attention paid to the herring fishing at Yarmouth during the late autumn, and on the Scottish coasts during the early months of the year, many fishermen do not now think it worth while to keep a winter yawl. *1*


Zulu Skiffs

Small line boats of the Skaffie model were to be found at most of the Moray Firth ports where Skaffies were employed in the herring fishing, but not in such numbers as to constitute a distinct type of boat. The principal reason, no doubt, was that most of the able-bodied Banff and Moray fishermen preferred to use their big herring-boats for all purposes. But even where, from want of proper harbour accommodation or any other cause, small boats were used, these were often of the Fifie model. Fishermen from as far up the Firth as Tain and Broca have for long been in the habit of getting their small line boats built at Rosehearty, near Fraserburgh.

Since the Zulu was introduced, however, yawls of this model have been coming rapidly into favour, not merely in the home of the Skaffie, but round Aberdeenshire, etc. Fraserburgh fishermen, who used to adhere rigidly to the Fifie model, were among the first to introduce this innovation, and to recognise the suitableness of the Zulu for line fishing.

*1* A winter skiff of the Fifie model, built at Peterhead in 1890 to the order of a Banffshire crew, measured 37 ft. keel and 42 ft. 6 inches over stems, 15 ft. beam, 5 ft. deep, and 15 tons register. Price to carpenter, £71, and for sails, etc., £30. This, of course, cannot be taken as the present cost of a similar boat. The boat was clinker-built ; a carvel craft would have cost more.

During the last few years a good many large Zulu skiffs have been built at Fraserburgh and other Moray Firth ports, to the order of the Congested Districts Board for Ireland, for use on the north-west coast of that country. They are used both for long line and for herring fishing, and have given entire satisfaction. Crofter fishermen belonging to the Congested Districts of Ireland get these boats from the Board on the loan system. *1* Skilled fishermen from the east coast of Scotland are put in charge as instructors at the Board's expense for a limited period, after which the crews are expected to be able to manage the boats themselves. At great line fishing most of these boats have hitherto worked in Donegal Bay during the first part of the year, and in the autumn they have been mostly employed in Downings Bay (Sheep Haven) at the herring fishing.     >>Next Part

*1* These Zulu skiffs that have been taken to Ireland run about 30 ft. keel and 42 ft. over stems ; 12-1/2 ft. beam, 5 ft. deep inside, and 10 tons register, and are mostly carvel-built. There is, of course, cabin accommodation for a full crew. Cost for carpenter work, £100 ; and for sail and outfit, £35 ;-total, £135. Material is much dearer now than a few years ago.




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