The iconic Steam Drifter at 'Full Steam Ahead'
In the early days of fishing the purpose was to provide food for the fisherman's immediate family. In due course it was realised that not only could the family be fed with the catch there was also an opportunity to sell, or more likely barter for other produce - this was perhaps the start of what would become a major industry and small boats that were used for line fishing with bait would gradually be replaced by the new breed of boat using nets
Wide beamed and with considerable capacity on the open deck these boats became a favourite among fishermen. It was easy to understand why as their relatively low cost made them a good purchase for a small group. They were easy to manoeuvre and in calm waters could be rowed by the crew, if necessary. A lug sail made for efficient use of the wind and the only downside with these boats wasthey could easily be swamped in a heavy swell, so they could not venture too far from shore because at the time in question the only source of weather information was the fishermans instinct and good though that was there are many recorded incidents where boats were lost due to the weather
A further development and a bigger boat than the Scaffie these boats were usually built with decking and avoided the problems associated with swamping. Many fishermen, it is said, did not like the decking because they felt it reduced their abiity to make bigger catches, even so there was no denying these boats could venture further afield in the lucrative fishing waters of the area
The Zulu combined the best features of the Scaffie and Fifie and it became a very popular craft indeed. It would be a feature of just about every fishing village in North east Scotland
The arrival of the Steam Drifter was greeted with a degree of scepticism in some quarters as it appeared big, heavy and expensive to buy and run and yet it is the iconic symbol of the herring fishing trade. The boat provided a level of comfort and safety that was unheard of before its arrival. It also removed the need for wind-power. Now the boat could steam in a straight line from the fishing grounds to the harbour and marketplace. The wheelhouse gave shelter also the galley and cabin with it's bunk beds made life better for those on-board. With a large hold it could accomodate far greater catches than other boats. It quite simply became the boat of choice for many, but not all