Monday, June 14, 2010


When I was a child, in the early 70s, we used to go on family holidays to Gairloch in Wester Ross. Every evening, we would go down to the pier to watch the fishing boats unloading. In these days, there were about a dozen or so boats, mostly east coasters I think, which unloaded white fish (i.e. cod, haddock etc. as opposed to herring or prawns) at Gairloch. The pictures below were taken in the 80s after the new pier had been built but are similar to the scenes on a summer evening 10-15 years earlier I'm recalling:-

Back in the 70s, as kids we had a note-book in which were noted the names and numbers of the fishing boats just as trainspotters do with trains. Among the names I recall were the Scotia, True Love and Nimrod (INS 4) but the boat that sticks in my mind most clearly was the Seaflower.

About 35 feet long, painted a vivid emerald green and with just a simple wheelhouse at the stern, she bore registration number BRD411. This signified a port of registry at Broadford on Skye but the Seaflower's home port, engraved on her stern, was Ardheslaig (I believe it's pronounced "ARDISS-laig" but I'm quite prepared to be told that's wrong.) in Applecross on Loch Torridon. Whereas the other boats seemed to "bustle" at the pier, the Seaflower always seemed to be the last to arrive and approach with an unhurried air. I can also vividly recall the skipper, a big man called Calum in his 60s, with a rosy face, white hair, a blue boiler suit and a bunnet: he also had an unhurried sort of air about him.

I've no idea what became of the Seaflower (and alas have no pictures of her) but I was very interested to discover from the Ross-shire Journal the other day that there's now a new Seaflower on the go on Loch Torridon. It's operated by Calum's son Kenny and his daughter Gemma and offers trips out of Shieldaig. A bigger contrast from the Seaflower of my memories from the 70s it's hard to imagine:-

The picture above is grabbed from Torridon Sea Tours' lovely website which is well worth a look just for the superb photography of the Torridon area if nothing else. I wish the venture all success.

I wonder what Calum would have thought? I imagine he's the sort of gent who might have said something like "A catamaran for taking trippers out, you say? Ach well, we'll have to be seeing about that now, won't we just."

1 comment:

  1. Gosh, I didn't realise that TST's Seaflower had an august heritage! Kenny and Gemma are superb hosts and very amenable to adapting their tours to suit specific requirements. I cannot recommend them too highly. I particularly recommend going on their trip to the Isle of Rona.