Reaper sailings to Bell Rock cancelled

THREE proposed sailings to the Bell Rock Lighthouse from Arbroath by the 109-year-old herring drifter Reaper to celebrate and support the bicentenary of the lighthouse have been cancelled.

Reaper, a regular visitor to Arbroath, particularly during Sea Fest, belongs to the Scottish Fisheries Museum based at Anstruther and the museum’s Boats Club had organised the trips to the Bell Rock between July 28 and 30 for guests in return for a donation towards the cost of maintaining the boat.

However, the club has been advised that taking individual and group bookings for these sailings and funding these through donations would probably affect both their essential charitable status and the rating under current MCA regulations in being seen to have a commercial trading element.

Mr John Firn, chair of the Scottish Fisheries Museum Boats Club, explained: “As it is very important that we protect Reaper’s status as a core member of the UK’s Historic Fleet, the Boats Club has decided, with much regret, to cancel the Bell Rock sailings from Arbroath at the end of July.

“Reaper will thus not be in Arbroath until we arrive for the Arbroath Sea Fest on August 14, with the boat remaining in Arbroath until it leaves for the Stonehaven Harbour Festival on August 20.

“We realise that this will disappoint those who have made enquiries about coming aboard on these sailings, and we send them our apologies. We trust that the reasons for our decision will be understood as it is important that the basis of funding the continuing existence and operation of this iconic and historic boat is fully protected.”

Mr Firn went on: “We are exploring other possible ways in which we can make up for the disappointment that will be felt by many as we do seek to make Reaper available to as many of her friends and supporters as possible.

“We shall put information about this on the boat’s website (www.scotfishmuseum.org/reaper) and on the Museum’s Facebook page. We will welcome all those who had hoped to take part in the Bell Rock sailings aboard Reaper during the Arbroath Sea Fest to further explain the reasons for the cancellation, and to express our regrets.”