Baldie: small form of the fifie introduced following the Washington Report. These boats were carvel built and decked or half decked to provide shelter and to reduce the possibility of being swamped. They were named after Giuseppe Garibaldi the Italian patriot of that time. They were not immediately popular with fishermen because of the risk of being swept off the deck as opposed to standing within an undecked boat. The term ‘baldie’ was also used again inthe 1920s and 30s to describe 50ft motor powered fifies which were being built in significant numbers at that time.

Carvel: the method of planking a boat where planks are fixed side by side to form a flush smooth hull.

Classification (1st Class,2nd class etc.)

Clinker: the method of planking a boat where the planks are overlapped. This was necessary in smaller boats where the planks were too thin to provide an effective seal if layed side by side (carvel).

Coble: small inshore fishing boat with a flat bottom for beach launching and a high stem for taaking the surf on launching. These have Scandinavian features but are primarily Dutch in design.They range from ten to thirty plus feet. They are specific to the North East of England from the Scottish Border to the Humber. There is also a form of coble designed for workig bag nets for salmon and associated with the Arbroath and Montrose area although common around the Scottish coast. These were around thirty feet in length and much beamier than the Yorkshire cobles

Dandy:sail fishing vessel, usually smack rigged,popular wth East Anglian fishermen in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The hull shape of the Dandy provided the model for the developing steam drifters.

Drift Net: net hung like a curtain in the sea which catches pelagic fish by the gills. The nets were joined in long lines to form ‘fleets

Drifter:fishing boat which uses drift nets. Over the years these have been of all sizes, have used all sources of propulsion and have been built of steel and wood.

Danish Seine:a method of catching demersal fish where a long line of ropes with a trawl style net in the middle is ‘shot’ around a shoal of fish. When the circle is complete the ropes are hauled in until the circle is closed and the fish herded into the net. The closed net is then hauled rapidly to the boat. The Danes worked the system around an anchor tuning with the tide. In the early 1920s Scottish fishermen adopted an adapted style of this method called ‘fly dragging’ (as opposed to ‘anchor dragging’) where they no longer used the anchor. This was the primary method of inshore demersal fishing from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Dundee Boat: sail fishing boat popular with French Channel coast fishermen in the late 1800s early 1900s and similar to the smacks used by their English counterparts. The derivation of the name is uncertain but it is believed that it is a corruption of the name of the East Anglian ‘Dandy’. There appears to be no conection to the Scottish city of Dundee.

Fifie: widely used Scottish sail fishing boat distinguished by their relatively straight stem and stern. They ranged from ten to ninty feet in length. Usually powered by dipping lug sails later models had auxilliary motors fitted. In the 1920s and 1930s motor powered Fifies were built with a greater beam aft to accomodate the engine. See also Baldies above and Zulus below.

Loch Fyne Skiff: wooden sail powered fishing boat widely used on the Southern West Coast of Scotland especially around the Clyde area. Ranging from ten to forty feet in lenghth they were distinguished by their steeply raked sterns and sloping masts.

Lug Sails : these were the favoured rig of the Scottish fleet and consisted of one or more lug sails plus a jib. The dipping lug was particularly preferred since it allowed the use of sails which were longer than the mast. Working these large sails was hard and dangerous work and many of the recorded casualities were caused by sails whipping men into the sea.

Purser: a fishing boat which uses purse nets to catch pelagic fish usually herring or makerel. Because of the size of the net these are generally very large boats.

Purse Net: a form of net where a shoal of fish is ringed by a very large net and the bottom of the net is closed like a ‘purse string’ to completely trap them. The fish are then sucked on board using pumps. Previously they would have been lifted on board using some form of ‘scummer’

Ring Netter:fishing boat which uses a ring net to catch pelagic fish principally herring. These ranged from 20ft to 60ft in length and were built of wood.

Ring Net:form of net which is shot around a shoal of pelagic fish by two boats, working as a pair, and then closed to trap them. The fish were then lifted on board the boats using ‘scummers’.This method of fishing was heavily used in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century by inshore boats from the Clyde area, the Minches, Avoch, the South Firth (Firth of Forth) and NorthEast England. It is believed to have been developed by Clyde fishermen in the mid 1800s using their drift nets to ring shoals and then towing the nets closed. There is a detailed report on such an operation in the Ayrshire Post of January 1869. Two boats were reported to have taken a huge shot of herring in Loch Goil.

Scaffie: the scaffie, or scaff or scaithe was the standard design of fishing boat in the inner Moray Firth going back probably as far as the 18th Century. It was identifiable by its rounded stem and steeply raked stern. They were usually lug rigged and were built in all sizes from very small yawls to large decked boats. The short keel made them very manouverable.

Seiner: a vessel which catches demersal fish using a seine net. These vessels ranged from around 25ft up to 90ft plus.The largest seiner was probably the Star of Bethlehem PD 218.


Seine Net The method, otherwise known as’ fly dragging’ was developed by Moray Firth fishermen  in the early 1920s as an adaption of the Danish method of ‘anchor dragging’. A long circle/triangle of rope is shot by the boat with a trawl like net in the middle. As the roaps ar hauled the circle closes herding the fish towards the net. once the ropes close and the net closes the net is hauled rapidly up to the boat. This method was widely used by inshore boats and larger boats from the 1920s until the late 1960s when it was superceded by trawling.


Smack Rig

Trawler: a vessel which catches demersal fish, prawns shrimps etc using a trawl net. The trawl nets were originally kept open by beams which were dragged along the sea bed on skids. Later development saw otter boards or trawl doors being used. Trawlers can range in size from very small inshore craft of 20ft up to distant water boats of several hundred feet.They will also include freezer trawlers and factory ships which can process the fish at sea.

Trawl Net: a method of catching fish where a bag shaped net is dragged through the water. The net can be designed to catch either demersal or pelagic fish. The mouth of the net can be held open by a wooden or steel beam or by trawl doors which aquaplane through the water. There are a large number of variants of the trawl including pair trawls worked by two boats and twin rigs which are essentially a combination of two bags joined together.

Yawl:the name is derived from the Dutch ‘Jol’ and was originally a form of rig as opposed to a type of boat. The rig had a mainmast plus a small mizzen mast set well aft. However the term yawl has become associated with small inshore fishing boats originally sail powered but later motorized or built with motor power only> 

ZuluThe zulu was the name given to a particular design of sail fishing boat developed in 1879 at the time of the Zulu Wars. The zulu was a combination of what were believed to be the best features of the tradtional Fifie and Scaffie models. As with other desgns the boats ranged from 20ft to nearly 90ft. The first one was designed for and by William Campbell of Lossiemouth and named Nonesuch. The design combined the straight stem of the Fifie and the short keel and raiked stern of the Scaffie.Many reporters see the Zulu as the ultimate form of the Scottish sail fishing boat but it is probably true to say that the Fifie continued to share that psoition with the Zulu. The zulu was particularly popular with the fishermen of the inner Moray Firth but from Fraserburgh South along the East coast the Fifie probably remained the most popular choice with the fisherman.


“Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from his lighthouse evermore,

But to us he gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.

Let the lower lights be burning! send a gleam across the waves!

Some poor fainting struggling seaman you may rescue , you may save.”

      P.P. Bliss