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Scottish Traditional Boat Festival opens maritime registrations

By Kyle Ritchie

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Registrations are now open for skippers and sailing crews to sign up for the 31st annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival.

The event returns to the historic port of Portsoy on Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23.

Welcoming heritage craft from across the country, the festival is expected to attract more than 13,000 visitors.

Registrations are now open for skippers and sailing crews to sign up for the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival. Picture: Kyle Ritchie
Registrations are now open for skippers and sailing crews to sign up for the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival. Picture: Kyle Ritchie

Around 30 boats took part in the 2023 festival, which was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne.

Maritime registrations are now open on the festival website: www.stbfportsoy.org/take-part/maritime

Richard Thorne, maritime co-ordinator of the festival, has already confirmed 10 traditional boats from across the UK are set to attend.

He said: “We have had a strong start to our maritime line-up with 17th century Fifie herring drifter Reaper, confirmed to make the journey from the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther, Fife.

"We will also welcome back White Wing, a 33ft Baldie and setting sail from Wick in Caithness will be 19th century Fifie and festival favourite, the Isabella Fortuna.

“Since the festival began in 1993, it has attracted some of the finest, and most historic, craft to Portsoy. We have been fortunate that many of the crews and boats return year after year, as they enjoy the festival’s unique atmosphere, along with the opportunity to link up with other boating crews and coastal communities.

“The flotilla of traditional boats forms the centrepiece to our weekend of maritime celebrations, which include live music and dance, Scottish food and drink and age-old crafts.

"Our aim is to increase the number of boats attending and we would encourage crews and traditional boat builders to get in contact and sign up to attend.

"Portsoy harbour is well-equipped to support boats of all sizes, shapes and depths and we work closely with the harbourmaster to plan and advise on harbour access, and manoeuvrability, to provide adequate berthing options.”

The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival puts the spotlight on the north-east’s seafaring culture, sharing stories and songs, craft demonstrations and an insight into what life was like at sea, hundreds of years ago.

Celtic rock band Skipinnish will kick-off the festival weekend on Friday, June 21 as headline act for the Big Gig on the Back Green.

Skipinnish has spent the last year touring the UK and across Europe, playing to sell-out crowds and appearing at some of Britain’s biggest music festivals.

The band celebrates its 25th anniversary with two major concerts at Bught Park in Inverness and Edinburgh Castle.

As well as these flagship shows, the band will perform at a select number of smaller events in 2024 chosen by the band for special reasons.

The maritime theme of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival made it a very appropriate event for Skipinnish to choose Portsoy as one of these exclusive gigs of their 25th year.

Fans can see Skipinnish perform their hits Alive, Last of the Hunters, Walking on the Waves and The Island, which all hit the top spot in the world download charts, as tickets are on sale now from the festival website www.stbfportsoy.org for £38. This is a licensed event for over 18s only.

The festival sponsors are Puffin Pellets, Hamlyns of Scotland Oatmeal, Portsoy Thrift Shop, Stagecoach, Urquhart Joinery Services, Camwater and Gray Composting Services.

The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival was first held in 1993 as an event to celebrate the tercentenary of Portsoy’s old harbour.

Since then, it has been firmly anchored in the town’s calendar, taking place annually each summer and attracting thousands of visitors from across the region and further afield.

The festival is set around Portsoy’s 17th century harbour and is run by Portsoy Community Enterprise which also manages Portsoy Links Caravan Park, The Sail Loft Bunkhouse, The Salmon Bothy and The Boatshed.

For more information visit www.stbfportsoy.org or on social media at @STBFPortsoy #ahoyportsoy.

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