For two weeks in May the 109-year old sailing drifter Reaper, flagship of the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther, will be visiting some of the old herring ports along the Moray Firth, where she will be open free of charge for visits by members of the public.
Reaper, launched at the Forbes yard in Sandhaven in 1902, is the last authentic survivor of the Fifie type of drifter, once the mainstay of the herring fishery on the East Coast of Scotland.
The visit has been made possible by generous sponsorship from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Trust, the Excelsior Fishing Company, the Scottish White Fish Producers Association in Lossiemouth and Macduff, Macduff Shipyard, the Craig Group, and Buckie Fishermen.
The historic vessel will be open to the public from 10am until 5pm at Gardenstown on Tuesday, May 17 and then at Fraserburgh from May 18-20. It will also visit Lossiemouth on May9-10, Buckie from May 11-12 and Macduff from May 13-16.
Important highlights of the tour include the specially-arranged visits for more than 1,300 pupils from no less than 34 different schools in the area.
A spokesman for the Scottish Fisheries Museum Boats Club, the all-volunteer group which maintains and operates REAPER, said: “It is an important part of the outreach programme for the museum to put the youngsters around the Scottish coast in touch with their heritage, for as recently as two generations ago fishing was the mainstay of local populations.
“There can be few families which do not have ancestors connected with the fishing industry.”
Since being acquired by the museum, Reaper has been fully restored to her original 1902 sailing rig, and the former fish hold has been set up as a floating museum to display the old fishing gear, clothing and equipment in common use during her heyday.
Over the past 12 years she has been visited by in excess of 203,000 people from 123 different countries in addition to the UK.
During it’s time in Fraserburgh, Willie Whyte of the Excelsior Fishing Company is arranging, in co-operation with the Fraserburgh Harbour Master, to have his modern pelagic trawler Forever Grateful berthed within a few yards of Reaper, and she too will be open to visitors.
This should provide a stunning contrast between the old and the new!
Don’t miss your chance to visit this unique floating museum, a relic of days gone by and of our common cultural heritage.