Livelihood's Lost (1886)

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In the 1960ís and 1970ís I saw a handful of boats washed out of Portlethen shore, dashed against the rocks or lying on the beach filled with water. These were boats that hadnít been drawn high enough up the bank in winter to avoid a combination of stormy weather and high tides. Generally speaking, these were pleasure craft that were old, not looked after, or where the owners had lost interest in them.


This would not have happened in the 19th century when every vessel kept in a shore or harbour was a working boat where men were dependent on them to make a living. Given the valuable commodity that boats were at that time wreckages still occurred whilst boats were moored at harbour or pulled up the beaches. This was down to the nature of the weather and the heaviness of the boats rather than neglect and in the stormiest of conditions the local fishers would have been constantly checking on the condition of their craft.


In December of this year it was reported that two Findon boats were carried out of the harbour at Portlethen and destroyed. We can only surmise about the circumstances surrounding this example; perhaps the boats had to make for Portlethen in a hurry and there was no safe mooring because of the cramped conditions at the shore? Maybe the weather was of an extremely violent nature which is likely because many boats had to abandon fishing gear during this 1886 storm and a vessel from nearby Newtonhill was also lost.

Even with all the precautions taken by local fishermen boats were still lost from the shore and harbours quite regularly. Back in these days all aspects of fishing was a precarious business, even when the fishermen werenít at sea.