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New Mast for the Reaper

by Linda Fitzpatrick News Reaper

New Mast for the Reaper
New Mast for the Reaper

Modern boatbuilding techniques ensure that the last of the great first-class scottish herring luggers will sail again.

The Scottish Fisheries Museum today welcomed the arrival of a specially crafted 67 foot (21 metre) Fore Mast which was commissioned as part of the £1million conservation of the Reaper and makes the last of the great First-Class Scottish Herring Luggers stronger than she has ever been in her 118 year history.

The new mast built for this ‘Rare Survivor’ from the golden age of sail, is almost as high as the Reaper is long (70 foot/22 metres) and made from Douglas Fir, a species traditionally used for ‘Fifie’ masts because of its superior strength.

As climate change has begun to impact on the ring strength of Douglas Fir, the wood components underwent a complex lamination process. This has made the new mast 30% stronger and 50% lighter than traditional pole masts, significantly reducing the stresses under sail. This along with the mast lifespan of 30 – 40 years instead of the usual ten, will extend the Reaper’s life.

Additional strengthening work to the hull carried out as part of the conservation has also given the Reaper, one of 46 core vessels in the UK’s prestigious National Historic Fleet kept in seagoing condition, probably the strongest hull of any ‘Fifie’ ever built.

Together, the strengthened Fore Mast and hull ensure the Museum’s flagship historic vessel can set sail from her home port of Anstruther.

As a tribute to the many sponsors of the conservation programme, particularly a generous late donation from within Scotland’s pelagic fleet that enabled the Museum to commission the manufacture of the new Fore Mast, the Museum plans to take the unusual step of naming the new mast. It will be called ‘Forever Grateful’.

The new mast is almost the length of a regular tennis court or swimming pool. It made a striking sight travelling up to the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther from Bristol where it was manufactured by Noble Masts, a family firm manufacturing masts approved by Lloyds of London for clients across the world.

Taking receipt of the new Fore Mast, Ian Goodyear, Managing Director of the Scottish Fisheries Museum, said:

“We are immensely grateful to Scotland’s fishing companies and communities and to the Scottish Government for their continued support of the Reaper and enabling us to commission this special new Fore Mast.

“Conservation of a seagoing historic vessel like the Reaper is always ongoing. Using the latest mast making and hull strengthening techniques, we have ensured that she is stronger and more resilient than ever.

“Sailed by members of The Museum Boat Club since joining the Museum’s sea-going fleet in 1975, this icon of Scotland’s rich fishing heritage has welcomed over 180,000 visitors onboard. Many more will now experience this iconic ‘Fifie’ and share in the story of Scotland’s booming herring industry of the past.”

See more about the Reaper here.


The Scottish Fisheries Museum Trust Ltd
St Ayles, Harbourhead, Anstruther, Fife KY10 3AB
Tel (within UK): 01333 310628
Tel (from outside UK): +44 1333 310628
Charity Number: SC 006185 VAT Reg Number: 270 2790 64
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