The small property on Commercial Street in Lerwick on the Shetland Islands has become rather well-known – or more precisely the garage on this property. It can be seen on photos in the Shetland Museum. And a French researcher once wrote a book about garage roofs, made a point of coming here and took photos of the garage – the owner tells us proudly. Why? Quite simple actually. The garage roof is an upturned boot! A typical eight-meter Shetland fisher boat, which was once rowed by seamen.
You can find constructions like this often in France and on the Shetland Islands. Before letting an old boat rot on the beach, it was better to give a wooden hull a new purpose. And it was the same in this case. The inky-black boat first served as a fishing vessel, got a small motor at the beginning of the last century and was used up to the sixties as a mail boat between the islands. And now it is a very impressive roof on a garage on Commercial Street.
Directly beside the garage, 13 natural-stone steps lead down to “Leog Beach”. The beach is 100 meters long and 14 meters wide and fits itself between cliffs. Here we once again document the amount of rubbish on the beach. We collect 955 grams of plastic – parts of nets, very small plastic pieces, a few clay fragments and two cold packs. Everything is written down carefully. The beach is however comparably clean. The yearly rubbish collection took place here two weeks ago. Then the whole population of the islands swarms out onto the beaches on a weekend and collects everything which has been washed ashore or thrown away. (keepscotlandbeautiful.org). This year 60 tons of rubbish were collected!
Lerwick Boating Club
“Leog Beach” lies in an area with strong currents which cause a huge amount of rubbish to be washed ashore. The “Lerwick Boating Club” is a few hundred meters into town. It consists of an old sandstone building directly on the water with its own dock and a big terrace. Both sailors and rowers train here. We are allowed to enjoy the hot showers in the basement. And there are coin-operated washing machines. This develops into our fitness program for the day: to complete a load of wash, we had to walk three times to the boat club to throw a pound coin into the machine.
Lerwick is the capitol city of the Shetland Islands. This once was a very poor region and achieved a certain prosperity in the eighties when oil was discovered and a gigantic storage and loading station was built. This brought jobs and tax income to the Shetland Islands. We lie with the “Dagmar Aaen” in the center of the city. From here it is not far to “Malackoff”, the central ship supplier. This is situated in a run-down wooden building painted red and offers a small paradise for sailors. The store is very well stocked with all kinds of maritime spare parts. We take advantage and buy shackles, snap hooks, tension bolts and cordage. With this material we make an interesting construction under the davits on which the dingy can hang and swing freely. Thanks to the clamping devices, the dingy is immediately secured and ready for our further journey to the north.