Repairs Begin On Vital Part Of Fishing Heritage

by Alastair Hamilton -

Volunteers have begun essential repair work on an old Shetland fishing boat which is said to be one of the best examples of its era.

The ex-seine netter, Nil Desperandum, was built for the Ministry of Defence in 1947. The Wiseman family, of Lerwick, bought it in 1951 and it worked in Shetland waters for the next fifty years. James Wiseman gifted it to the Shetland Amenity Trust in 2012 so that it could be preserved and it has been berthed in Hay's Dock, in front of the Shetland Museum.

Understandably, the boat is in need of some repairs after all these years and a band of volunteers has come forward to carry them out. The mast and winches are being removed first, after which a cover will be fitted to enable the volunteers to work on the deck and deck beams over the winter months.

Peter Chroston is coordinating the boat's repair. He's a boat builder with 25 years of experience in the construction and restoration of wooden boats and has been a lead shipwright on several projects. Peter replied to an advertisement seeking help to restore the Nil Desperandum and agreed to lead the project.

Tim Senften, another volunteer, is a retired teacher who hails from Ohio. His skills include joinery, electrical work, engineering and welding. Tim said: "I like the identity of old boats and feel that it's an important heritage point for people to identify with their past".

The Nil Desperandum isn't the first old Shetland vessel to be restored; the Swan, a sail fishing vessel built at Hay's Dock in 1900, was rescued in the 1990s and has spent the past 16 years as a sail training vessel, carrying youngsters (and some not so young) to dozens of ports in northern Europe.

Posted in: Heritage, News