Sunday 21st October. Fethaland Fishing station
Latitude and Longitude: 60°37'60" N, 1°18'0" E
OS Map 1:2500: 37.5, 94.4
Weather: A dry start to Sunday but rain soon spreading northwards to all parts. Light S’ly winds. While the rain is expected to be more persistent and remain for much of the day across Shetland. F2-3 S’ly winds.
Sea State: Mostly slight becoming slight to moderate, with a 1 metre SW’ly wind-swell becoming a 1 to 2 metre S’ly.
(Observation: In fact there was slight rain and a very cold damp breeze, but it remained bright for most of the day.)
An hour’s walk from Isbister until we reach Fethaland. Grey sky, rain in the air. A small white cloud hangs in the sky above the dark strip of a horizon, framed by the broken cliffs of the voe. Aqua-marine, the sea appears calm, but to knowing eyes there’s a swell; small waves break gently on the grey pebbled shoreline, pale green with olive green patches where seaweed floats below, almost lime green where pale yellow rocks lie on the ocean floor and bright green seaweeds lurks. A grey seal swims back and forth. There’s a distinct icy chill in the breeze, my fingers freeze in fingerless gloves as I draw.
Two cormorants diving and the sound of a lone curlew.
Ruins of the old fishing station ring the shore; a row of roofless and built of thick grey stone against wind and rain, lintels still in place. (The information board informs us that roofs were removed at the season’s end because of winter storms, to be rebuilt each summer from wood and turf).
|Shetland Museum & Archive image|
At the northern tip of Northmavine this was the centre of the seasonal haaf fisheries, Arriving by boats at the beginning of the season, from here crews traveling out to sea to the "Far Haaf", the edge of the continental shelf in sixareens, six-oared wooden vessels built along traditional Norse lines, to catch deep sea fish - ling, cod and tusk.
I sit on steep stone steps that descend from the lodges to end in mid-air, and look out at the voe and try to imagine it full of sixareens. Below, stone-lined noosts lie empty.
|Pages from sketch book|
Bright grey light reflects in transparent sea, tiny ripples cross the surface making their way shoreward onto smoothed pebbles.
I look up from my writing and drawing; the voe has suddenly filled with seals. Ten heads turned towards me. It’s disconcerting to be under such scrutiny.
|Findings and water sample|