Reaper returns to Portsoy ahead of Scottish Traditional Boat Festival

16 May 2023
Iconic Fifie Sailing Herring Drifter Reaper will return to the ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd July 2023, thanks to festival maritime sponsor, Glenglassaugh Distillery. Image copyright Allan Robertson
A 19th century Fife Sailing Herring Drifter and a ‘rare survivor’ of the golden age of sail will make her maiden voyage to return to the ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy on 1 and 2 July 2023.

Following 'long and expensive' restoration works, and thanks to the festival’s maritime sponsor, Glenglassaugh Distillery, the Reaper will be one of the flagship vessels attending the 30th  anniversary of the maritime event

History of the Reaper

Built in 1902 by J&G Forbes in Sandhaven, Fraserburgh, Reaper began life as a two masted sailing lugger. At 70ft long, she was used for drift net and great line fishing and in the 1930s, held the record catch of herring in Shetland, some 223 crans, nearly 250,000 fish. Owned by the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther, Reaper will mark her 120-year anniversary this year and is one of the few vessels in the UK’s National Historic Fleet which is still in seagoing condition.  

Joan Paton, events organiser of the Scottish Fisheries Museum BOATS Club said: “After six long years of restoration and repair works, the Reaper crew and I are delighted to bring the vessel back to Portsoy for this year’s ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival.  

“We have been regular visitors to the event for many years and it is always a highlight for us. The festival has a unique atmosphere and provides the opportunity to meet up with other boat crews, whilst enjoying all of the entertainment it is renowned for. The journey to Portsoy will be around 18-20 hours for our skipper, Eric Lauritsen and his eight crew and it will be the first journey we have taken Reaper on, since the boat was completely refitted.” 

Festival support

David Urquhart, chairman of the ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival commented: “We are very grateful to Glenglassaugh for their support this year. Their funding enables us to attract a wide variety of boats from across the country to the festival and most importantly, bring historic vessels like Reaper, back to Portsoy. Reaper has always been a major attraction for our visitors and she will certainly be a key highlight for our 30th anniversary. 

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“The festival is organised by 25 volunteers who give up their time to bring the whole event together. Volunteers play a crucial role and we rely heavily on local people to come forward to get involved in the lead up to, and during, the festival. 

“Our musical line up this year includes big names such as Skerryvore and RhythmnReel alongside local groups, artists and performers. Scottish crafts and handmade items will be on display in the Craft Fayre and there will be a wide selection of local food and drink in the Food Fayre. Younger visitors will also be able to enjoy a wide range of activities and entertainment, so the event really has something for all ages and interests.” 

Find out more about the festival at its website.