Monday, 29 June 2015

130 year old St Ives lugger Barnabas sets sail for the Shetlands

The St Ives-designed and built mackerel driver Barnabas, famed for flying an enormous St Piran’s flag at the Queen’s diamond jubilee pageant on the Thames in 2012, is the flagship of the Cornish Maritime Trust (CMT). To raise funds for the trust, Barnabas will recreate the annual voyage which many Cornish drift-netters made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to catch the enormous shoals of herring which were then available off the coast of Britain during the summer months. 

Walter Langley : Departure Of The Fleet For The North

The idea is the brainchild of CMT trustee Peter Morgan, who said he was inspired to organise the trip after seeing the 1886 Walter Langley painting In A Cornish Village: Departure Of The Fleet For The North.

“The boats would pick up the Peel fleet from the Isle of Man, renowned for their kippers, and sail up to Fort William, then through the Caledonian Canal to Inverness and the Moray Firth,” he said. “Often the crews could not afford to hire a horse to pull the boat along through the canal and so the crew hauled the boat themselves – a two-day, exhausting effort.” 

Once they had reached the east coast, the fleet, which could number 1,000 or more vessels, would head up to Orkney and Shetland in search of vast quantities of herring. From there, they would have followed the shoals down the east coast of Scotland and England, fishing and landing their catches as they went. Mr Morgan says he has discovered that Barnabas definitely made this trip in 1883, 1884 and 1885.

This year, the journey will be undertaken over the course of ten weeks with volunteers, each paying £200, crewing Barnabas for week-long segments. Barnabas will set off on her journey from the Looe Luggers Festival which takes place this weekend and will called in on Falmouth early next week; she will be in Penzance harbour on Mazey Day before heading off on Monday from Newlyn. 

Follow their adventures on the BAB blog here:

See the Barnabas leaving Newlyn in the early hours of this misty morning!

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