Good news on future of historic vessel

The Reaper, afloat after being upturned in the gales on Saturday.
The Reaper, afloat after being upturned in the gales on Saturday.

Damage to the historic Fraserburgh fishing vessel ‘The Reaper is ‘not as bad’ as first believed, but is bad enough.

That was the verdict of Mackay Boatbuilders’ Harry Simpson on the vessel, which suffered damage after being blown over by a freak gust of wind at this year’s Johnshaven Fish Festival.

The ‘Fifie’ fishing boat, a favourite at fish festivals up and down the country, suffered potentially serious damage in the accident, which happened at the annual August event.

The vessel was taken to Mackay’s for assessment and Harry continued: “We’ve done repairs to stop all the leaks, and she is now back in Anstruther. There was damage to frames, planking and caulking.”

Harry added: “I’d love to see her working again - there’s no reason why she won’t.”

An interesting update to Reaper’s status was supplied to the Herald this week by the vessel’s skipper, Mike Barton.

He told us that the damage done by the freak gust had turned out to be less serious than he had feared.

He said: “As humans age they get more stiff - but as a boat gets older it gets more flexible. When the Reaper went over, the looseness saved her from serious damage.”

He is baffled by the mighty wind that blew the vessel over: “We have photographs before and after the event, and in each the flags hang limply. So why and how that gale blew up for a brief period remains a mystery.”

Mr Barton repeated his relief that there were no serious injuries, and there was no environmental impact: “When we come into a port we lock up everything to minimise the risk of a spillage of fuel.”

Mr Barton confirmed that the major refurbishment of the boat, planned for the end of 2017, would be brought forward and that the tendering process is under way.

He said: “About 18 months ago naval architects conducted a comprehensive survey of Reaper, and drawings have been made.”

There are only two boatyards left, capable of undertaking the work at Arbroath and Macduff.