A 19th century Fifie Sailing Herring Drifter and a ‘rare survivor’ of the golden age of sail will make her maiden voyage to return to the ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd July 2023.
Following long and expensive restoration works, and thanks to the festival’s maritime sponsor, Glenglassaugh Distillery, the iconic Reaper, will be one of the flagship vessels attending the 30th anniversary of the maritime event. Around 15,000 visitors are expected to attend over the two days, to see the finest historic fishing fleet drop anchor in Portsoy, alongside a medley of music and dance, local food and drink and unique Scottish handcrafted items and gifts.
Built in 1902 by J&G Forbes in Sandhaven, Fraserburgh, Reaper began life as a two masted sailing lugger. At 70ft long, she was used for drift net and great line fishing and in the 1930s, held the record catch of herring in Shetland, some 223 crans, nearly 250,000 fish. Owned by the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther, Reaper will mark her 120-year anniversary this year and through careful conservation and care, is one of the few vessels in the UK’s National Historic Fleet which is still in seagoing condition.
Joan Paton, events organiser of the Scottish Fisheries Museum BOATS Club said: “After six long years of restoration and repair works, the Reaper crew and I are delighted to bring the vessel back to Portsoy for this year’s ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival.
“We have been regular visitors to the event for many years and it is always a highlight for us. The festival has a unique atmosphere and provides the opportunity to meet up with other boat crews, whilst enjoying all of the entertainment it is renowned for. The journey to Portsoy will be around 18-20 hours for our skipper, Eric Lauritsen and his eight crew and it will be the first journey we have taken Reaper on, since the boat was completely refitted.”
In 2017, Reaper was taken to Babcock at Rosyth and following an extensive survey, it was revealed that significant refurbishment was required to replace decayed or damaged wood. This was necessary to restore structural integrity to the boat. Thanks to funding from the Scottish Government, repair, restoration, and specialist woodwork was carried out by A&R Way Boatbuilding, including the installation of a new 67ft foremast made from Oregon pine from Canada.
Reaper returned to the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Fife in 2019, however a considerable amount of work remained on the internal fit-out. Major reconstruction of the interior was led by shipwright, Ali Beedie along with hundreds of hours of work by the numerous Boat Club volunteers including Mike Barton, Dave Crowther, Donald McDonald, Sadie Crowther, Winston Stewart and Bob Flann who have restored the cabins, galley and display areas.
Joan continued, “The re-fit of the boat has been a real labour of love and considerable time and effort has been taken to ensure Reaper has been put back together, authentically, and true to her traditional roots. She brings the history and heritage of the maritime industry to life and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors to the festival back aboard to experience what it was like on Reaper, all those years ago.”
Also attending the festival from the Scottish Fisheries Museum is White Wing, a 33ft Baldie, which is a variety of the Fifie lugsail design. Built in 1917 for John Ritchie of Whitehills in Banffshire.
Glenglassaugh Distillery, which is located at Sandend Bay, just two miles from Portsoy has pledged its support to the festival as maritime sponsor for 2023. Handcrafted by a small, highly skilled team, Glenglassaugh is a luscious coastal malt, shaped by the rich abundance of land and sea, with rolling waves of flavour.
Stewart Buchanan, Global Brand Ambassador, said: “Glenglassaugh’s heritage stretches back to 1875, and its essence is distilled from the visible and invisible influences of the elements within the distillery’s beautiful surroundings.
“Our whisky is ingrained in our sense of place, and the local community is at the heart of that. Exciting times are just around the corner for Glenglassaugh so it seemed fitting to support The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at this important milestone in its journey. We look forward to seeing the Reaper when it sails into Portsoy at the start of July.”
David Urquhart, chairman of the ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival says: “We are very grateful to Glenglassaugh for their support this year. Their funding enables us to attract a wide variety of boats from across the country to the festival and most importantly, bring historic vessels like Reaper, back to Portsoy. Reaper has always been a major attraction for our visitors and she will certainly be a key highlight for our 30th anniversary.
“The festival is organised by 25 volunteers who give up their time to bring the whole event together. Volunteers play a crucial role and we rely heavily on local people to come forward to get involved in the lead up to, and during, the festival.
“Our musical line up this year includes big names such as Skerryvore and RhythmnReel alongside local groups, artists and performers. Scottish crafts and handmade items will be on display in the Craft Fayre and there will be a wide selection of local food and drink in the Food Fayre. Younger visitors will also be able to enjoy a wide range of activities and entertainment, so the event really has something for all ages and interests.”
Thanks to festival sponsors ACE Winches, Glenglassaugh, Puffin Pellets, Hamlyns of Scotland Oatmeal, Macduff Shipyards, Portsoy Thrift Shop, Twice Buried Rum, Moray West, Urquhart Joinery Services and Gray Composting Services Ltd.
Entry to the festival is discounted when purchased in advance online, for a day festival pass the prices are £15.30 for an adult, £9.90 concession and £6.30 for a child. Alternatively, a family day pass can be purchased for £35.10, or an adult weekend pass is £19.80. A weekend family pass, for access to the festival on Saturday and Sunday is £45.00. Tickets can be purchased on the festival website