1927, 18′ Orkney Yole

Bulldog was built in 1927 by Robert and James Mackay in their boat yard at Maitland Place, Finstown, Orkney. She is a very rare example of a large North Isles Yole.

Bulldog showing her plumb stem and raked stern

Length 18.2ft, Beam 8.2ft, Depth 3.4ft and built in the style of a North Isles Yole showing typical features such as a plumb stem and raked stern, like a big Westray Skiff.  The main difference between the Yole and the Skiff is that the Yole has a much wider beam whereas the skiff has a narrower hull with finer ends and slacker bilges

Bulldog displays a feature rarely found outwith North Isles Yoles; that of Fitticks and Halficks – discontinuous alternating fitted timmers (timbers or ribs), Halficks (Half Timbers) going across the bottom and Fitticks (Futtocks) extending from the gunwale to overlap the half timbers.

The timmers are more widely spaced than a South Isles yole and are ‘fitted’ (sawn), not steamed.  This gives a strong but flexible boat.  Because the beam is very wide compared to length, the strokes around the bilges have to be scared (scarfed) together once or twice for each stroke as there were no boards wide enough to accommodate the extreme curved shape required.

Boats were usually built to order and for a specific purpose.  Bulldog was built relatively lightly with a shallow draft and very wide.  This meant she was ideal for carrying heavy loads and could land on a beach or shore and be easily loaded and unloaded.

James Flaws, from Wyre, bought Bulldog at a farm sale in Evie in the early 1930s and used her to transport grain, bere and oats, across to the Sourin Mill on Rousay, later returning with heavy Bolls of Beremeal and Oatmeal for winter provisions and sale.  She was regarded as a very safe dry boat ideal for such trips.  Because of her shallow draft she landed easily on the shore below the mill where there was no jetty.

Her means of propulsion at that time was Lug sail and oars.  Bulldog was also used for fishing. She was a good creel boat as well as being safe for going to the more exposed fishing grounds to the west of Rousay to fish for haddock and cod.

After WW2 Bulldog was bought by William Mainland on Rousay who fitted an engine and used her for lobster creeling. She was registered for fishing in 1950 (K739) and again in 1956 (K130)

After passing through several hands she ended up with Duncan and Kenny Pirie and was based at Houton, Orphir.  She was then used as a ferry boat doing regular runs to Cava, Longhope and Flotta and was highly regarded by these experienced boatmen who said she could make safe sea crossing  in bad weather when much larger boats were heading for shelter.

Bulldog showing her wide beam

Bulldog in August 2020