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The Swan to spend a month exploring the Western Isles and promoting sail training

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18 May 2022

Shetland’s traditional tall ship Swan, LK243, is scheduled to arrive in the Western Isles this week, for a month of youth sail training and public trips around the isles. The sail training taster days will take place in partnership with a number of organisations, and highlight opportunities for taking part in The Tall Ships Races which is returning to Scotland in 2023, when Lerwick Harbour will be a Host Port. While the seven- and nine-night public trips will explore the Western Isles, including St Kilda.

The Swan will arrive in Ullapool on Thursday to prepare for the nine night trip around the isles, starting on 22nd May, before returning to Ullapool to deliver two youth sail training taster days at the start of June, in partnership with the Ullapool Harbour Trust, Sail Training Shetland and Developing the Young Workforce West Highland. Over the two days 20 pupils, mainly from the Ullapool High School, will work as a crew to operate this historic vessel. With a different set of 10 pupils each day, they will be split into watches and cover everything they would experience on a longer sail training voyage.

Julie Philip, School Coordinator, DYW West Highland, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this initiative, and are grateful to the Ullapool Harbour Trust for the opportunity and trainee sponsorship. This type of experience has so much to offer our young people, and will help them develop and enhance many important skills for their future education and career choices. It would be great to inspire them, and others, to apply to take part in future Tall Ship races, as the learning, social and developmental benefits of a longer sail training experience are invaluable.”

The Swan will then travel from Ullapool to Stornoway to offer youth sail training taster days for young islanders on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th June, before starting her second public trip, a seven night Western Isles Cruise from Stornoway on Monday 13th June.

The Stornoway Sail Training days are being delivered in partnership with Stornoway Port Authority and Sail Training Shetland – with the Port Authority currently inviting local young people aged 14-25 to apply for a place. Further details, and application forms can be found on their website: www.stornowayportauthority.com/tall-ships-2023/, and completed applications should be sent to the Port Authority before the closing date of 31st May.

Absolutely no sailing experience is required to take part, just a willingness to pitch in and work as a team. With a new set of trainees each day, there will also be 20 places on offer in Stornoway. Alex Macleod at Stornoway Port Authority, whose great grandfather was skipper of the Muirneag, one the last of the Zulu fishing boats, said: “While the days on offer will give just a small taste of a longer passage at sea, it will enable the trainees to learn about working a boat, including working sails, watch systems, taking the helm, and basic navigation, as well as learn more about the opportunities on offer for Tall Ships Races 2023. Sail training is not just about learning to sail, it is about building confidence, teamwork, communication and enjoying the great outdoors. I certainly hope this experience will inspire young people to apply to take part in the Tall Ships Races 2023 – it is an incredible opportunity.”

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. Today, Swan is one of only two her size in existence, and the only one offering sailing experiences.

Having enjoyed many public trips around the Western Isles in the past, the Trust is offering two public trips while the Swan is in the isles. A nine night voyage from Ullapool, 22nd – 31st May, and a seven night voyage from Stornoway, 13th - 20th June, will both explore the islands including, if conditions allow, a trip over to St Kilda.

Tommy Allan, Trustee with The Swan Trust, said: “With Covid restrictions, we have not been to the Western Isles for a few years, and are very much looking forward to sailing there again. We have held very successful sail training taster days in Shetland and Orkney this year, and we hope they’ll be just as popular in the Western Isles. We are also delighted to be making links with so many organisations who can help young people access sail training opportunities. With the Tall Ships coming back to Shetland next year, there are going to be lots more sailing training experiences available, and we very much hope to welcome some of the trainees back for a longer journey. Of course, anyone can come aboard the Swan to ‘learn the ropes’ and we hope our seven and nine night trips open to the public will also prove popular – we certainly always enjoy sailing around the isles, and taking a hop over to St Kilda.”

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.

Volunteer

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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