3 June 2019
Swans new mizzen yard was delivered to Shetland last week aboard a very unique vessel.
Due to the many thousands of miles Swan has covered at sea in all weathers, several spars, wooden poles used in the rigging to carry or support its sails, have been replaced over the years. When the Swan’s mizzen yard broke two years ago a temporary replacement was used until a new one could be ordered from the well-known Gloucester traditional boatyard run by Tommi Nielsen, who has been instrumental in the supply and maintenance of the Swan's original spars and her standing rigging ever since her rebuild in 1996.
The new mizzen yard is now ready and Swan trustees were surprised indeed when Tommi rang last week to say that, having personally made the spar, he had decided to deliver the finished article personally too, and that it would be in Shetland by the end of the week! His method of delivery – Mascotte, a 60 foot Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter built in 1904, herself the result of a major restoration in 1994 by Tommi Nielsen's yard.
Tommi is currently acting Mate aboard this very well known traditional sailing craft, which happens to be on passage from Oban to the Tromso area in Norway, and was happy to come via Shetland to drop off the spar. Brian Wishart, Trustee of the Swan Trust, commented: “I could not believe it when Tommi rang to say he was taking the Spar up on the Mascotte. We would have loved to have the transfer of the spar directly from Mascotte to Swan in Lerwick harbour, but this cannot be as Swan is currently en route to St Kilda!”
Representatives of The Swan Trust gathered in Lerwick to meet the Mascotte. As well as taking delivery of the Spar they hosted Tommi and his crew mates in Lerwick and presented both him and the boat with Swan gifts as a thank you.
For traditional sailing craft enthusiasts, a description of Mascotte's working life with, facts and figures, is worth a look: www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/689/mascotte. It will be hard not to do some comparing and contrasting with the same information on Swan.