The journey of a boat
This boat was purchased by Fascadale in 1912. It is said she was built in Aberdeen. She was almost certainly amongst the first motorised salmon cobles in Ardnamurchan and probably fitted with a petrol paraffin Kelvin “Poppet” engine. It is very likely that she worked the north coast of Ardnamurchan out of Fascadale from 1912 to the late 1960s
Extract from an email from Linda Fitzpatrick, Curator, Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther to Paul Taylor, Aug 2021
“Thank-you for your query regarding the building of salmon cobles, specifically OB209. I have had a look back through our records and have found OB209 listed in the Mariner’s Almanac from 1939 to 1948 (the latest issue we have). There are very few details given, but it does give the then owner, R Powrie of Mull and tonnage (2.16). The name is given as Coble I. Coble II is registered OB210 to the same owner“
This is interesting as it only lists two of the four boats and none of them were named. A member of the Powrie family, who were the leasees at Fascadale for very many years has said one of the boats was called “Eun na Mara”, (Bird of the Sea) Perhaps OB 209 was “Eun na Mara”
In 1975 she was in the smaller of the Fascadale boatsheds, and without an engine. The then proprietor, Rhoddy Macleod, when he needed a bigger boat, considered giving her a new motor but instead purchased the fibreglass 30ft boat OB 226 “Iolair”
In about 1977, Alistair Maclean, from a Tobermory fishing family leased the fishing rights to the south side of Ardnamurchan from the Macleods. He also bought OB209 which he towed back to Mull. Alistair Maclean put a new Lister engine in the boat, converted her to “whipstaff” steering and put in new floorboards and new blue paint job. Previously, like the other Fascadale boats she had been grey.
Alistair had the boat until 1982 when he sold her to Paul Taylor who had taken over the south side lease. He sold her on in turn to one of the Peterson brothers who swapped her with a man in Mull for another boat.
Extract from an email from Clive Simpson, Dervaig, Mull to Heritage Ardnamurchan Jan 2022
“I was amazed and very intrigued to hear that my former salmon coble has had a reincarnation! I thought she was lost and gone forever.
I knew OB 209 when she was owned by Peter MacLean of Dervaig, who operated the salmon nets at Sorne Point on Mull for decades. Just how Peter came by OB209 I am not entirely sure but I always believed she was originally built either in Aberdeen or Montrose in about 1912. I seem to remember that before Peter bought her, her previous home was somewhere near Kilchoan. I myself bought the coble off Peter when he retired in 1991 and continued to operate the nettings with George Macfarlane for another couple of years. I know a good deal about OB209’s late career circa 1985-2005, and especially about her prolonged visit to the Weatherhead Boat Yard in Cockenzie where I tried – rather a labour of love I have to say – to get her renovated and restored during 1997/98. She attended the Newhaven Boat Festival in May 1998. She then spent three years moored at Granton harbour from 2002. I eventually gave the coble (by now renamed ‘Pedro’ in honour of Peter M) to the Eyemouth World of Boats historic collection in 2005. And that, as I thought, was the end of the story. But not so because, as you now reveal, her life continues. Well done everyone!“
OB 209 in Dervaig Mull Probably the last photo as a working salmon coble. Laying up in Loch Cuin 1993
OB 209 remained at the Eyemouth World of Boats Museum from 2005 until 2017 when the museum was forced to close. She had been stored outside for much of that time.
The boat was bought as part of a lot of four vessels by a gentleman who took them down to Hartlepool where he hoped to attract funding to start a traditional boat building/ maintenance course in conjunction with a local college. The funding never came through and OB 209 languished in the yard at Hartlepool marina
Paul Taylor, owner of OB 209 in the early 1980s had seen the boat again first at Granton, Edinburgh in the early 2000s and then in Eyemouth. Although he missed the sale of the Eyemouth collection he did contact the buyer but unfortunately the price then asked was unrealistic. A couple of years later when the building/maintenance course was obviously not going to happen Paul tried again but again the price was unrealistic. Eventually in late 2019 Hartlepool Marina, who had taken ownership, contacted Paul to ask him if he still wanted the boat. He did, but only if he could find a home for her.
Fortuitously Paul met a committee member of the Ardnamurchan Heritage and History Association(AHHA), Elaine Stokes who was very enthusiastic about returning the boat to Ardnamurchan. As a body AHHA were tremendously supportive of this initiative and miraculously managed to negotiate with the now owner of Fascadale, the Ardnamurchan Estate and its owner Donald Houston that the boat go to a shed at Fascadale. OB 209, at over 100 years of age was to return to where she had first been purchased in 1912
The return of the boat was first planned for the spring of 2020 but the pandemic saw that off. Eventually OB 209 got back to Fascadale in early summer 2021 thanks to great work on behalf of AHHA by Chris Ganes, Andy Barret and Rosy MacLoughlin. Members of AHHA cleared the shed of inches of sheep poo and repainted the boat. Hopefully she is now safe for another 100 years.
OB 209 on the road to Fascadale
A flying boat
OB 209 back in a shed at Fascadale
Many thanks to AHHA and the Ardnamurchan Estate for all their generous work and commitment to this project. With a very special mention to the volunteers who heroically cleared the sheds and painted the boat