Swan to visit Orkney, delivering youth sail training and public trips

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3 May 2022

Historic sailing vessel the Swan, LK243, is to visit Orkney this month to offer sail training days for young islanders, and day trip for the public, exploring the coasts around Kirkwall.

Described as one of the finest boats in the Scottish fishing fleet when launched in 1900, the Swan was one of hundreds of Fifies to be found fishing around Scotland and further afield. She had a long career in Shetland, before being retired in the 1950s, and left the isles in 1960. A community initiative formed in 1990 returned her to Shetland and, following a full restoration, she was relaunched as a sail training and charter vessel in 1996.

Since then, the Swan has travelled far and wide, promoting Scotland’s fishing heritage and introducing people of all ages to the skills required to sail a boat like Swan, one of only two surviving Fifie’s of her size. She is no stranger to Orkney, visiting many times, providing both youth and public trips, and is to return this month.

The Swan's Orkney adventures will begin on Sunday 15th May with a public day sail exploring the coasts around Kirkwall.

On 16th May, the Swan will welcome secondary 3 and 4 aged pupils from Sanday Community School for a full sail training taster day. The day will cover everything they would experience on a longer sail training experience, and highlight that Sail Training International’s Tall Ships Races will be returning to Shetland in 2023, with the aim that they may apply to be a trainee to take part in Tall Ships 2023.

Stewart McPhail, Head Teacher of Sanday Community School, said: “I have a personal interest in sailing, and have been involved in sailing excursions with pupils in previous schools. Through this, I have seen first-hand the incredible learning experience a hands-on sailing trip like this can give. It is not just about learning to sail, it is about building confidence, team work, communication and enjoying the great outdoors. I certainly hope this experience will inspire some of our pupils to apply to take part in the Tall Ships Races 2023. I’m also looking forward to building links between the Swan Trust and the school, to allow more of our pupils to enjoy this great experience next year.”

On Tuesday 17th, the Swan will welcome secondary 1 and 2 pupils from the Westray Junior High School aboard for a sailing trip from Kirkwall to Westray. These pupils will also experience the full sail training taster day sail, whilst sailing home past some of the Northern Isles on the way.

Donald Hawkins, Acting Head Teacher, Westray Junior High School said: “This is such a fantastic opportunity for our pupils - sailing around their home waters and coming into thier home port under sail on a historic sailing boat. Splitting the pupils into watches, as the crew would operate on a longer trip, is a great idea and will give them a unique experience. I can't wait to hear how they get on.”

The Swan’s trip to Orkney will end on Wednesday 18th May in Papay, Welcoming pupils from Papa Westray and North Ronaldsay Community Schools. Timothy Ross, Head Teacher at Papa Westray said: “We are delighted that the Swan is coming to Papay so our pupils can enjoy a trip in their local area. We are starting our day with a tour of the Swan for our nursery pupils and, if it is not too windy, they may even be able to rise one of the sails! Following this, our older pupils will be joined by pupils from North Ronaldsay for a day sail aboard the Swan – which will be such a unique and valuable learning experience for them all. We would like to thank the Swan Trust for providing these opportunities and I look forward to developing our links.”

Following this day trip, the Swan will leave Orkney for Ullapool and Stornoway, where she will carry out further youth sail training and public trips before returning to Shetland.

For details of trips available to book check out our upcoming trips

Find out more about the Swan Trust's youth sail training work here.

If you would like to help support Swan follow these links to donate or volunteer with the Trust.


Want to get involved in maintaining and operating a traditional wooden sailing vessel? There are a number of different ways you can volunteer to safeguard, care for and sail this unique heritage asset.

Learn more

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