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Ketch rig with Kelvin diesel 66
4 man crew
Line fishing, nets and creels
Original owner / Skipper - George Clark
In 1953, George Clark of Bernera commissioned a new 40 foot lobster boat from the famous and long established yard of James N. Miller and Sons of St. Monans in Fife, for fishing lobsters on the west coast of Lewis. His new boat was completed in May 1953 and was named Scotch Lass.
The Scotch Lass incorporated all the lessons George Clark had learned from his experience fishing with his previous vessel, the Mairi Dhonn. She was a very beamy boat with high bulwarks, in order that she could carry a large number of creels and provide a safe, secure and stable working platform ; she had a cruiser stern which provided more deck space than the pointed stern of the Mairi Dhonn. She was powered by a 66hp. Kelvin diesel engine. The creel-hauling winch was a further development from that of the Mairi Dhonn but this time was mechanically driven rather than hydraulic. The previous hydraulic system was insufficiently powerful and had caused the winch to stop if significant tension came onto the line such as when a creel was snagged for any reason. The winch was engineered and constructed, to George Clark’s specification, by the builders who were renowned for their Miller Fifer trawl and seine net winches. Around six months after the Scotch Lass was built, her propeller was replaced by a Hundested variable pitch propeller which reduced drag while sailing but also gave more efficient propulsion when under power. Again, this was a highly innovative and advanced fitment on a boat of that size.
In August 1953 George Clark and his Scotch Lass crew were chartered to support the guga (young gannet) hunt on the island of Sula Sgeir. Apart from an initial abortive trip when the shore party could not be landed due to heavy swell, the commission was completed successfully and safely.
George Clark continued to fish for lobsters with the Scotch Lass from Bernera until 1954, when he moved the boat to Oban and fished for lobsters there. However, he maintained Hebridean links with crew from either Bernera or Harris. She features in this account of George.
George Clark sold the Scotch Lass in 1955 to new owners in Stonehaven where she was based for around 15 years, was re-registered as A 72, and fished with long lines and the seine net. At one point, she broke free from her mooring and went ashore outside the harbour, sustaining significant damage to her planking. This was repaired and she was also re-engined with a Perkins diesel. She was then sold to Campbeltown and later to Wales where she finished her fishing career. She was purchased by a consortium in the Isle of Man who converted her for pleasure use with an increased rig and sails which carry her original Stornoway registration of SY 597. As of 2021, she often attended classic boat rallies on the west coast and was maintained in immaculate condition.
From an article in Fishing boats (a newsletter of the 40+ Fishing Boat Association, which "aims to promote preservation of fishing boats, research into the fishing boat heritage of the British Isles and to safeguard our artisan fishing traditions"):
SCOTCH LASS is owned by members Mr Dave Lancaster and Mr Peter Roe. She was built and completed in May 1953, "yard number" 696, by J N Miller, of St Monans for George Clark, Stornoway, registered SY597. She was used for part time creel fishing and fished from Carabost(sic). Dimensions are 39.9', 38'x 16'x6' and accommodation was for a crew of four.
In 1955 she returned to the east coast of Scotland and was registered A72 and owned by David M Andrew, Stonehaven. She was one of the smartest and well-maintained boats in the local fleet. In summer she worked the seine net and in winter the great lines. During the mid-sixties she was involved in the "First Drift Net War" between the salmon drift net boats and the white fish trawlers, who started netting "red fish" off the Angus and Kincardinshire coast.
When built SCOTCH LASS had a 66hp Kelvin and on one occasion she broke free from her moorings and "went up on the rocks" at the back of the pier at Stonehaven and had the bottom knocked out of her. She was taken north for repairs.
In 1958 she was fitted with a Miller seine winch, and in 1970 a Macduff coiler. Her engine was replaced with a 105hp Perkins, giving her a speed of 8 knots. She carried 340 gallons of fuel. In the 1970s she was offered for sale for 6,850.
In 1969 the Andrew's family sold SCOTCH LASS and replaced her with the James Noble, Fraserburgh built TRUSTFUL A74.
SCOTCH LASS was then sold to Campbeltown owner Duncan McConnachie and in 1973 sold again to Ellis O Cemlyn-Jones, Penmaenmawr.
Her new owners have spent a lot of time replacing parts of her hull and now she can be seen at various events around the Irish Sea.