Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival

Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival is held annually and has grown from a small event to a large celebration of food, drink, music, coastal rowing and of course traditional boats. This year's event was held on 30th June and 1st July and was the 25th festival, a notable landmark.  The staff of Mountain and Sea Scotland visited on the Sunday with a family group ranging from 8 to 80 something years old.  The festival occupies the whole harbour area, surrounding streets and the village green - and there really was something for everyone to enjoy.

We arrived quite early, and at low water which gave an opportunity to view some of the vessels in the harbour.

There were some absolutely beautiful craft on show, many of which would have been a regular sight when Portsoy was at its busiest as a fishing port.  Fish are still landed, processed and sold here; a fish seller has a shop in the newer part of the harbour.

In the very traditional harbour setting, the boats look entirely "in their place"

The coastal rowing races were a real draw, featuring crews from all around the UK and further afield - a Dutch crew were very much in evidence in the races.  This sport has really caught on and the numerous small harbours of Scotland's north east coast nearly all have rowing clubs and boats.

Boats are crewed by four rowers and a cox'n and race over a variety of distances.  A strong breeze and choppy conditions had limited the races to shorter distances arranged as out-and back legs....

.....which resulted in some close and exciting racing.  Crews are of all ages and compositions, coastal rowing seems to be one of the most inclusive of sports.

In the boatsheds near the harbour examples of traditional boatbuilding and nautical skills were much in evidence.  But the festival isn't all about boats....

It's also a celebration of the best of local food, drink and music.  Two full areas were dedicated to food and drink, with lots of food vendors on site to refuel hungry visitors.  On the harbour side, spars full of haddock tied in pairs await the magic which will transform them into....

.....Arbroath Smokies.  The haddock are cleaned at sea, then salted for a time to draw excess moisture from the flesh before being smoked in a half whisky barrel over a fire of beech or oak shavings, when the time is right the barrel is covered with a hessian sack to retain the smoke.  The result is sensational; tasty, fresh and healthy.

What these images don't show is the crowds of people at the festival.  We'd arrived early to avoid the busiest time but it was still a busy, vibrant day of sights, sounds and tastes. The music stage featured some great performances and by all accounts the Saturday night had been a real party.  2019's festival is scheduled to take place on 22nd and 23rd of June - it's a great day out.

And if all this nautical theme isn't for you.......

...then check out Hamish the "Coo Van" at the Visit Scotland stand!

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