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Padstow boatyard, boat builder , boat yard

Shetland and the Yawl or Sixareen

by fafb 11th September 2023
The Shetland Yawl

The Shetland yawl sometimes spelled Yoal was first imported in the mid 19th Century from Norway Where they were built and taken apart and "flat packed". The Norwegian builders initially came over to Shetland to put them together until they were later constructed in Shetland. The materials oak and larch were still imported as shetland is not a tree island

The yawl was constructed of six larch boards attached to three oak frames which were attached to the gunwhales but not fixed to the keel to give greater flexibility. Because of their six oars they were known as sixareens and were used initially for haaf fishing (open water in sight of land). They were not designed for the far haaf (offshore deep water fishing) and such use resulted in many sinkings as they ventured offshore for two day trips. A peat brazier was taken on board and used for cooking at sea.

The catch of cod was salted and air dried onshore and traded via the Hanseatic League to Europe.

At the fishing

Up to forty miles offshore the lines were prepared sometimes 6 miles long. There were 60 boats from Unst alone at the Far Haaf fishing after 1880.

The Far Haaf is a replica sixareen which was built 1993 and can be seen at the Unst Boat Haven museum. LOA 9.15m beam 2.59 m built by Ian Best and Wm Mouat designed and donated by Duncan Sandison

Fishing the Far Haaf

haaf fishing The yawl was either rowed by six, hense the term sixareen, or rigged with a square sail to reach the fishing grounds. At the fishing grounds, the lines were shot and retrieved. Long lines could be up to 6 miles long.

Hanseatic league

The Hanseatic league were merchants who traded the salt fish and other goods, throughout Europe and as far away as Spain. This plaque is on the wall of a restored Hansa Bod (office) on whalsay

Shetland pics

The people of Shetland are very friendly and welcoming and it is quite clear that their way of life has always been closely linked to the sea. Fishing, whaling, the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy all have an important place in life on Shetland. The many islands are well connected with frequent ferries allowing locals and visitors to easily travel throughout the islands.

The Steer board on a replica Viking long ship on Unst.

The term Starboard derives from the Steer board which was on the right hand side of the boat. Replica viking longship Unst