Memories of the Misty Isle by Will Maclean

“The Castle Moil and the Misty Isle were the first new post-war fishing boats to come to Kyleakin. Commissioned by the McRae family The Misty Isle was designed and built for herring fishing using the ring net method. Other boats came and went but the Misty Isle worked from Kyleakin from 1948 until the final days of ring netting in the 1970s. Built by Forbes of Sandhaven in 1948 she was a classic, varnished, MFV. 52 ft. long 18ft. beam with a crew of six. She fished the Minch herring grounds from Barra to the Lewis lochs, with summer fishing based in Canna. As a student living in Kyleakin, I sometimes replaced crew members on the Misty. My mother taught me to cook and I was usually given that berth, reserved for the youngest or most inexperienced. In 1973 I was awarded a bursary from the Scottish International Education Trust to make a visual record of the Ring Net Fishing on the west coast. I was given the freedom to go to sea at any time with the Misty Isle and her partner boat, Fortitude. I joined forces with the Kintyre writer and poet, Angus Martin who wrote the definitive work The Ring-Net Fishermen. Fishing in these days did have echo-sounding equipment but largely relied on what the fishermen called appearance. Reading the natural signs, the behaviour of birds and whales, phosphorus reaction to movement, sound, tides and a host of other indicators.”

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Washing and stowing gear down, the Misty Isle.

Misty Isle & the Fortitude boarding herring off Skye, 1972

The Misty Isle & the Fortitude boarding herring off Skye, 1972