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Last catch for Wick-registered fishing boat after 40 years


By Jean Gunn

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The Opportune crew on the deck while towing their last haul. From left are Michael Munro, Alistair Jappy, David Mackay, who has worked on the boat more than 30 years, Magnus Cowie, skipper David Fraser and Keith Macadie.
The Opportune crew on the deck while towing their last haul. From left are Michael Munro, Alistair Jappy, David Mackay, who has worked on the boat more than 30 years, Magnus Cowie, skipper David Fraser and Keith Macadie.

AFTER a career spanning 40 years the Wick-registered fishing boat Opportune (WK171) has landed her last catch.

The seine-netter was given a fond farewell as she set sail from Scrabster on Sunday evening en route to Peterhead on the first stage of her voyage to Hartlepool, where she will take up a new role in the offshore wind sector.

To mark the occasion, the owners, Bremner Fishing Company, donated the last box of fish from the boat to the Seafarers Memorial Group in Wick.

At the auction the box of cod was sold for £150 to Scrabster Seafoods, with another five buyers – H & D Calder, Thomson International Ltd, Bell's Seafood, JPL Shellfish (Scotland) Ltd and Fish in Crieff – all donating £100 each. Scrabster Seafoods also put in an additional £100, with the Bremner Fishing Company bringing the total raised up to £1000.

The Opportune sets sail from Scrabster on Sunday evening en route to begin a new career in Hartlepool. Picture: Karen Munro
The Opportune sets sail from Scrabster on Sunday evening en route to begin a new career in Hartlepool. Picture: Karen Munro

Owner Andrew Bremner explained: "Normally when a new boat starts service it is tradition that you donate your first box of fish for charity. We just thought it would be nice to to donate the last box of fish out of the Opportune after 40 years at sea.

"There is no memorial in Wick for seafarers and we are trying to help raise funds to put up a fitting memorial on the Braehead."

On the decision to sell the boat, Mr Bremner said: "It was always part of the long-term plan when we built the new Boy Andrew three years ago that we would go down to operating one boat."

He went on to say that the present fish quotas had also influenced the decision.

The timing was also aimed to coincide with the retiral of the skipper David Fraser, of Lybster, who received a lifetime achievement award for his services earlier this year.

The original crew of the Opportune who sailed her home to Wick from Campbeltown following her launch. Back (from left): Jimmy Watson, James Bain, Will Young and Sandy Barnie. Front: David Fraser, Andrew Bremner, his father, the late Norrie Bremner, Leslie Howarth, manager of the Campbeltown shipyard, and George More.
The original crew of the Opportune who sailed her home to Wick from Campbeltown following her launch. Back (from left): Jimmy Watson, James Bain, Will Young and Sandy Barnie. Front: David Fraser, Andrew Bremner, his father, the late Norrie Bremner, Leslie Howarth, manager of the Campbeltown shipyard, and George More.

Mr Bremner said: "The Oppertune was built in 1979 for my father. I was skipper on board for seven years before David Fraser took over for the last 33 years.

"She has been an extremely successful boat and has given employment to local fishermen over the many years she has been here. First of all she was called the Boy Andrew III and was built in the Campbeltown shipyard in 1979."

He added; "I would personally like to thank all the crewmen, past and present, who have been on board the Boy Andrew/Opportune."

The reality of it all has not quite sunk in yet with the skipper, who has spent 40 years on the same boat, as his duties in the wheelhouse will not come to an end until he delivers the Opportune to her new owners in Hartlepool where she will take up duties as a guard ship at an offshore wind farm.

We have had the same crew for about 20 years. It is the end of the line.

First the seine-netter will be spending a few days in Peterhead where she will have her WK171 registration swapped for HL6. Then in around a week's time she will set off for County Durham.

"I will not be fishing on her again," Mr Fraser said. "It has been my home for 40 years and it will be strange when I finally come ashore from Hartlepool. I am 65 now and cannot go on for ever."

The retiring skipper, who has been with the company since March 1974, added: "We have had the same crew for about 20 years. It is the end of the line."

The other crew members of the Wick-registered boat are Michael Munro, Lybster, Alistair Jappy, Helmsdale, David Mackay, Wick, Keith Macadie, Wick, and Magnus Cowie, Helmsdale, who will also be retiring.

Bremner Fishing Company hopes to be able to employ the remaining four members of crew on the Boy Andrew, working a rota system.


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