The Swan enjoys varied trips in Unst & Yell

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20 September 2022

Classic sailing vessel, the Swan, was in Unst and Yell recently delivering trips for the public and a number of half day sails to school pupils in the isles.

Her visit started with a weekend of fishing around the North Isles. Skipper Scott Sandison, who is also a local fisherman and knows these waters well, said: We had an excellent weekend of fishing and sailing. With some of the best seafood Shetland has, including Haddock, Cod, Mackerel, mussels and crab, plus some of the best new tatties you can get. The wildlife was also incredible, with white beaked dolphins, minke whales, porpoises and resso’s dolphins all just at the side of the boat.”

The following week Scott welcomed pupils from Baltasound School aboard. With strong winds, secondary 3 and 4 pupils enjoyed a great day of sailing on the Tuesday. Primary 5, 6 and 7 pupils came aboard on Wednesday and Secondary 1 and 2 pupils on the Thursday, when they also enjoyed a fly by from the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter, which circled and waved to the pupils.

The pupils were so inspired by their trips, many contacted One Step Beyond, a sail training organisation in Unst, to ask when they could next arrange a trip to Norway on the Swan!

Paul Thomson, Headteacher at Baltasound Junior High School, said: “The pupils always look forward to a trip on the Swan, and this year’s trips were excellent, as always. The Tall Ships Races returning to Shetland in 2023 will bring additional opportunities for our young folk. Shorter trips on the Swan builds skills and confidence, encouraging them to take a longer voyage. These maritime opportunities also help them to develop as young adults and a young workforce. We are very grateful to The Swan Trust for these valuable learning experiences, and Cooke Aquaculture Scotland for sponsoring the school trips.”

With the Unst Show the weekend between the Unst & Yell school trips, the Trust decided to offer a half day trip for the public on the Sunday, which had excellent sailing conditions and proved to be a fantastic day out for all. Maggie was back at the helm for this trip, fresh back from the Round Britain and Ireland Race, with Scott as mate.

The following day, Swan was in Cullivoe, welcoming their pupils aboard in the morning before returning to pick up Mid Yell JHS secondary 4 pupils for a sail from Cullivoe to Mid Yell. Tuesday saw primary 5, 6 and 7 pupils from Mid Yell School come aboard for two half day sails.

On Wednesday morning the other half of Secondary 4 had a wonderful sail to Burravoe. The crew of the Swan then accompanied them back to Mid Yell in the minibus so that they could support the secondary 1 & 2 classes who were having an introduction to sailing small dinghies. As experienced dinghy sailors, Maggie and the Crew shared their sailing knowledge and enthusiasm and everyone had a brilliant afternoon.

The school trips were rounded off on Thursday, with the Burravoe School Pupils aboard in the morning, before Swan travelled back to Lerwick in the afternoon. The Burravoe pupils spotted a Basking Shark whilst aboard, which caused great excitement, and the Headteacher, Katy Hay, said that as well as a great standalone learning experience, their trip was the perfect launching point for their local history topic this term.

Maggie Adamson and Scott Sandison, Swan Skippers for the school trips, said: “What a fantastic couple of weeks sailing. All the pupils who came aboard from both islands were enthusiastic, engaged and up for getting stuck in! This allowed us to do some really great sailing and undertake trips between ports. We really hope many of them will apply for Tall Ships Races placements next year as they would make a great addition to any crew. We would also like to thank the teachers and helpers from each school for helping organise the trips, and being so enthusiastic on board. Finally, we would like to thank Cooke Aquaculture Scotland for not only sponsoring the trips but also allowing Scott, and some of their other employees, time off to crew the Unst school trips.”

Mark Lawson, headteacher at Mid Yell Junior High School, said: “Time spent on Swan is one of the highlights of our year. As we look to welcome the Tall Ships back to Shetland next year, what better way to inspire the young folk of Yell to get involved in sailing and really challenge themselves to play a part in this international celebration. Also, being surrounded by water, and the sea providing the majority of employment on our island, the work of the Swan Trust is way more important than just a few trips on a fantastic boat. We would like to thank everyone involved.”

The Swan Trust relies on a range of funding to cover its core costs and deliver sail training opportunities. The school trips in Unst and Yell were supported with funding from Cooke Aquaculture Scotland.

David Brown from Cooke Aquaculture Scotland said: “We are delighted to continue our funding of the school trips on the Swan. It is great to hear that the children enjoyed themselves. We hope that the experiences they have had inspire and encourage them to get involved in sailing and any other water-based activities. With the Tall Ships coming to Shetland next year there is a fantastic opportunity for them to build on the experience.”

The Swan Trust would like to thank Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, and all their funders, for their support.

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

The Trust is currently seeking applications for new Trustees. Please contact if you would like further information or an application pack. Closing date 21st October 2022.

If you would like to support The Swan Trust SCIO in other ways, follow these links to donate, volunteer, or book an upcoming trip.


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.

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