It’s Volunteer Week and we want to give a shout out to our fabulous volunteers! The Museum would not be what it is without the ongoing support from our volunteers from the Boats Club, collections work to helping at our events. Thank you to all volunteers who help with all aspects of the museum’s work.
One of our volunteers Mike Greenwood wears a few hats. He help us care for our collections and he is also a member of the Boats Club. He recently was on the crew of the White Wing when it went to Fisherrow Harbour Festival, near Musselburgh. Below he tells us about his volunteer journey and his recent his trip.
I have been sailing since the age of four with my father and brother off Hoylake on The Wirral. In later life I became a yacht owner with my wife and sailed in the Firth of Clyde and beyond. On moving to The East
Neuk of Fife in September 2022 and having sold our yacht I wished to still be involved in matters nautical. I enquired about volunteering at The Scottish Fisheries Museum and was accepted to work alongside the curatorial team. I was allocated a project to look at a collection of electronic instruments in the museum’s stores. This involved determining if there had been accession documentation, description, usage, unique number identifier, photographic image and input to the museum’s Modes database. The electronic equipment was post-WW2 and included Decca Navigation equipment, fish finders/depth recorders, radio transmitters and receivers and early GPS and all had come from fishing boats.
As well as the museum work I became a member of the SFM Boats Club which maintains and sails the two historic Fifie fishing boats Reaper (1902) and the smaller White Wing (1917). I decided to assist the White Wing Skipper with boat maintenance, mostly repainting work. White Wing was craned into Anstruther Harbour in April and had its first sail and practical training with its crew of four to refuel at Pittenweem. A further sail around the Isle of May off Anstruther prepared the crew for its annual sail to the Fisherrow Harbour Festival near Musselburgh, some 20 nautical miles from Anstruther across the Firth of Forth. The Skipper prepared the passage plan taking into account tidal windows at both the drying out harbours, distance, waypoints to steer to and weather conditions and briefed the crew. The weather was calm with a light breeze on our nose so motoring was order of the day rather than sail. All crew members took turns at the helm and steered the direct course to the waypoints. We reached Fisherrow having spied porpoise, puffins and two tall ships, though at a distance.
We arrived at Fisherrow Harbour at 1500 having motored the 20nm at an average 5kts to be met by the Harbour Master and allocated a mooring alongside the harbour wall. We were invited to use Fisherrow Yacht Club during our stay including showers and their bar! Facilities aboard White Wing are rudimentary as below decks have their original layout with only enough headroom to crouch, however bunks are provided for the crew, there is a gas cooker and table. The harbour dries out at low water and White Wing came to rest at a slight angle on its protective fenders against the harbour wall.
On the Saturday The Fisherrow Harbour Festival was being prepared for a busy day with stalls, stages and food stands. White Wing was there to represent The Scottish Fisheries Museum as one of the few examples of a type of fishing boat that would have once been commonplace in Fisherrow. We were there to greet visitors and supplied with information sheets to hand out, badges for young visitors and to hear their family stories of connections to the fishing. Visitors were also invited to contribute to SFM’s fleet via a donation box. Once the incoming tide had lifted White Wing, reducing the number of steps to be negotiated, visitors were also invited onboard. With hatches removed some climbed down and inspected the crews quarters, children had a go at hauling on the halyard to partially lift the gaff sail and manned the tiller. Approximately 65 visitors stopped by out of interest. Several with family connections to the fishing and a lady from Peel with whom White Wing’s former owner had stayed in 1942! And a man who had made a 3 foot model of White Wing’s sistership Reaper”. At 5pm The Who tribute band had played their last song, the Harley Davidson Club had roared off, The Star Wars visitors had vanished and the stalls were being dismantled. White Wing’s crew took down the Museum Banners, made White Wing shipshape and retired to the Ship Inn for a meal and a nightcap in the yacht club before turning in to their respective bunks aboard White Wing. Next day, Sunday, White Wing cast off with the flooding tide at 1400 and with engine on made the return trip, though the wind’s direction had now reversed, it was still heading us so it was once again motoring all the way. We tied up at our home port of Anstruther at 1800.
Volunteering at the SFM has enabled me to use some of the skills and interests I have accrued over the years and contribute in a theoretical and practical way. As a newcomer the East Neuk it has also helped me to meet many people whom I now consider friends.