The one that got away and infestations of hoe


While Jo and Rob filmed on the beach I took to the water with Tom Williamson again and attempted to film hooks and line under water. Not only was it difficult to actually see what I was filming with a GoPro on a stick underwater, I now realise how tricky it is to keep one's hooks and lines in order..
And why the fishermen kept theirs carefully organised laid out in rows before setting them out in the sea.
19thC line and hooks laid out on a board
I really would have made a rubbish fisherman.

However when I reviewed the footage later I realised that I'd managed to film the one that got away - from Tom's hook...

So close... it then turns tail and swims off.

It is still an experience to see the land from the sea and to watch it appearing and disappearing as we head out 


Back on shore Jo and Rob were still busy doing the far more serious business of recording sounds and filming the sea.


In between filming and recording we have been collecting information about the lodges and shops that were used by the men during the fishing season. The beautiful Day Book, which is part of the collection at Tangwick Haa Museum, is a testament to the coming and goings from one of the shop at Stenness during the fishing season.
Documenting the names of fishermen occupying the lodges we can find out what they were buying, and the price of rope, tea, hooks, counterpanes and sweeties and that, on occasions, even cigars were purchased.
Pages in the Day Book
The book will be on display during our installation. 
From reading 19thC newspaper reports from Northmavine it is clear that fish were not always plentiful during the season as articles in the local newspapers in the 1890's indicate. In addition to light loads, the fishermen are plagued by 'swarms of hoes' (which I think are dog fish) which prevent them catching the white fish.
June 17th 1893
Then there are other problems..

24 June 1876
What the diet of the men consisted of and whether they were well nourished or not, living in such close proximity in pretty rudimentary conditions meant that illnesses spread pretty fast. It seems that, as usual, the unsettled Shetland weather - thick fog and gales - also put paid to successful fishing trips. 
At the end of the season in August 1877 Laurence Anderson is noted as having taken the highest yield at 315cwt. But chief topic of conversation was the ordinance survey that was going on that year, with complaints of wheat fields being trampled in the process of mapping and threats of giving the boys a dipping in the sea if they were seen in the corn again.
Newspaper 18 August 1877
Another long day - home for our own tea.


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