Beautiful boats and quality ale

Bad weather held off for the opening of Scotland’s largest maritime event this year, the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival on 30 June.

Around 18,000 visitors lined the tiny 17th century harbour at Portsoy (population 1800) for the festival, now in its 14th year, to inspect traditionally-built boats from all over the UK, and the sample the food and music which has become part and parcel of the two-day event.

As part of Highland 2007, the year Scotland celebrates Highland Culture, the flotilla of around 30 boats sailed from Wick in the far north along the coast, calling at Lybster, Helmsdale, Cromarty and Buckie before joing another 50-60 vessels at the festival.

But an extra day in Helmsdale due to the poor conditions meant they were unable to keep a Royal appointment with the Earl of Wessex at Portsoy before the festival got under way.

Instead, the Royal visitor travelled to Buckie to greet the flotilla before they finally headed for the festival.

Warm sunshine pulled in a record Saturday crowd according to organising committee chairman Roger Goodyear.

“Our numbers on Saturday were up from last year but the rain meant they were down on Sunday,” he said.

“However, the overall effect was that we believe the attendance was at least on a par with last year, which is tremendous.”

“The number of boats is comparable to last year but I think we had more truly traditional boats this time. We also had more bigger boats such as The Reaper, the Isabella Fortuna and, for the first time, the Swan from Lerwick.”