North Lewis Maritime Trust


Ùrachadh: The Renewal of an Sulaire

Mhairi Law of Island Darkroom will be holding a photographic exhibition, Ùrachadh: The Renewal of An Sulair at Comunn Eachraidh Nis from Monday 26th April 2021 until Saturday 25th September. Copies of her book will be available at the Comunn. Mhairi can be contacted on info@islanddarkroom.com

Photographs by Mhairi Law, commissioned by Falmadair maritime trust. 

In December 1994, a new vessel of gleaming larch planks was lifted from a Stornoway shed and taken to Cuddy Point. People of all ages turned out to see an Sulaire (the gannet) touch salt water for the first time. Working from memory, photographs, wreckage and models,  boatbuilder John Murdo, assisted by Angus Smith, recreated the large class of sgoth, a traditional Isle of Lewis fishing vessel developed to work further offshore. 

A wooden boat, exposed to rain and wind, requires a huge amount of maintenance. Since her build, an Sulaire has required replacements and repairs to keep her safe and enjoyed by the local community. 

Commissioned by Falmadair (North Lewis Maritime Trust), these photographs by Mhairi Law document the work and the people involved in an Sulaire’s latest series of repairs, following her journey from Stornoway to Ardhasaig in Harris where boatbuilder Mark Stockl took on the major structural works and replacements. These images capture the conservation of a vessel of maritime heritage, her inherited design a testament to the thoughts, skills and lives of the people gone before us. They also show the local response to a call to contribute to this ongoing task of care required with these boats, and one that is loyally answered.

Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday 28th April 2021 via Zoom

The following were elected:

Chair and Safety Officer:    





Youth Ambassador:

Covid Officer:

Committee Members:

The minutes from the previous AGM was accepted. Ally presented the accounts for 2019/20 that were accepted. 

The Safety Policy is to be reviewed in July.

Sale of the DVD and copies of Ùrachadh will be available on Ebay shortly, details to be supplied soon.

A LOT of work has been done on all the boats and it is hoped that at least three of them are back in commission by the end of August, Mark Stockl is currently working on Broasbay.

David Skelly

Donald MacSween

Ally Macleod    

Brenda Jones

Ian Stephen

Janet Marshall  

Fiona MacSween

Brenda Jones

Ewen Finlayson

John Norman Crate

Missing Gear

Several of items of equipment have gone missing, these are:

  • 6 in number fenders, dark blue in colour each approx 1.5m long (F11 size) - Note these are not used as fenders but kept as part of the buoyancy system of sgoth Niseach for safety. 
  • Inflatable dinghy - 2.4 metres, Zodiac make, grey and with plywood transom stern - this was donated to Falmadair and is in good condition.
  • 2 aluminium paddles.

Images show them during tests in Stornoway harbour when both Jubilee and an Sulaire were filled with water to simulate being swamped at sea. They are vital part of our safety equipment for offshore sailing.

It is possible that these items were thought surplus to requirement and so taken in error. If you have any information about this please contact us in confidence on falmadair.sgoth@gmail.com

If these items are not returned we shall have to report the loss to the police.

Past Events

Fundraising Quiz Night and Annual General Meeting

On Friday 6th March 2020 an AGM was held at 19:00, followed by a quiz in Stornoway Golf Club.

The following were elected:






David Skelly

Donald MacSween

Ally Macleod    

Brenda Jones

Janet Marshall

Committee Members:            

Owen and Rose Bugler, John Crate, Ken Linklater, Ian Stephen, Barbara Ziehm

Being a registered charity, we are always looking at ways of supporting the organisation so donations and ideas for fundraising are always welcome. We recently had some wonderful donations for a raffle - and this has helped with the upkeep of the boats.

Committee meetings are generally on the second Thursday of the month.

Training session: Collisions and How to Prevent Them (ColRegs)

In association with An Eather: Coastal Rowing Club in the Western Isles, and Ramhaich Taobh Siar: West Side Rowers, we had a training session in Stornoway Library on Thursday 27th February from 17:30. 

This essential training was for anyone who takes to the water - admission was free, donations welcomed

Falmadair adopts new constitution

Local charity Falmadair (Gaelic for tiller) held a Special General Meeting on Friday 22nd March 2019 at 7pm in the community room at Lews Castle, Stornoway. The purpose of the meeting was to vote on the adoption of a new constitution.

The new constitution will allow Falmadair to become a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO). Being a SCIO will mean that Falmdair is a legal entity, allowing it to enter into contracts and hold property in its own right. Falmadair will continue to be a charity, regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. A key element of being a SCIO is that if the organisation does not comply with Scottish charity law, it will cease to exit.

The management committee has been working with Third Sector Hebrides to draw up its new constitution and ensure that it complies with Scottish charity law.

All members were invited to attend and vote on this important decision.

The Special General Meeting was followed at 7.30pm by a workshop on Basic Chart Skills led by Falmadair committee member David Skelly. 

Chair, John Smith said ‘The proposal to adopt this new constitution marks the next step in Falmadair’s development. Being a SCIO will give us a clear legal structure and help us to obtain grant funding’.

Recent raffle raises £1,360 to preserve maritime heritage

Local businesses generously donated fantastic prizes. Natural Retreats gave the first prize: a night at Lews Castle. Seafari contributed trip for two to the Shiant Islands and Digby Chick provided a £40 meal voucher.

Local couple Mairi and Colin Maciver won the first prize, after Colin’s brother Ruairi bought tickets and gave them to his brother and sister-in-law as a wedding anniversary present. Mairi said ‘I can’t wait to spend a night at the Castle; I want to go as soon as possible!’ Colin will notice quite a change from the last time that was in the upper floors of the castle: his last visit (an undisclosed number of years ago!) was as a labourer for a local building contractor when he had to carry materials up one of the towers.

Colin and Mairi met Natural Retreats’ General Manager for Lews Castle (also called Colin Maciver!) last week to make arrangements for their stay. They are pictured in the castle courtyard where Callicvol, one of Falmadair’s three Sgoth Niseach (Ness Skiffs), is on display.

Falmadair Treasurer, Alasdair Macleod, was also on hand to mark the occasion. Colin Maciver of Lews Castle by Natural Retreats said ‘We are delighted to support Falmadair. It’s important that these boats are looked after, and that local people and

visitors can go out sailing in them.’

John Smith, Chair of Falmadair said ‘I would like to thank the companies who donated prizes and everyone who bought raffle tickets. These funds will help us to look after these great boats and ensure that more people have the experience of sailing them and finding out about the maritime heritage of Lewis.’

Falmadair is keen to attract new members; no sailing experience is necessary to come sailing or to help with maintenance of the boats. Details of membership are here

We are working with other local organisations such as Comman Eachdraich Nis, Museum nan Eilean, Stornoway Port Authority and the Lewis and Harris Sports Council to plan our next series of activities. Details of our sailing trips and other events are posted on the Falmdair Facebook page. (Opens in a new page).

Falmadair has teamed up with Museum nan Eilean and the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association to run two sailing skills workshops: Knots on 22nd February and Basic Chart Skills on 22nd March. These will take place in the Museum’s Community Room at Lews Castle, starting at 7.30pm. Entry is by donation.

Death of John Murdo Macleod, Master Boatbuilder

It is with great sadness that Falmadair reports the death of John Murdo Macleod on 4th December 2018 aged 96. A boat builder who constructed the last Ness sgoth fishing boat, originally from Port of Ness lived in Stornoway and was the son of John Finlay Macleod, the hero of the HMY Iolaire tragedy, who swam ashore with a rope, saving many men from the shipwreck in the early hours of New Year’s Day 1919.

Mr Macleod’s craftsmanship in constructing An Sulaire, a sgoth Niseach was filmed for a TV programme which was first broadcast by the BBC in 1995.

Mr Macleod’s father and grandfather before him built boats at Ness.

Maritime Heritage Day at Museum nan Eileen Saturday 17th October 2018

On the afternoon of Saturday 17th October the sgoth Callicvol was on display in the courtyard of Museum nan Eileen at Lews Castle, Stornoway as part of their Maritime Heritage Day. Ian Stephen, renowned local author and storyteller was on hand to share the details of this beautiful craft. Many people came to see Callicvol and find out more, we hope that many of them will come and join us for a sail soon.

Annual General Meeting Tuesday 3rd October 2018

Our Annual General Meeting was at Stornoway Sea Angling Club on 3rd Oct. A committee was elected and the organisation readied for adopting a new constitution in the near future. This was followed by an informal session of tunes and chat, with melodeons, fiddles, whistle and general good craic. 

By necessity, Falmadair will be changing its constitution in order to comply with OSCR the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and become a SCIO a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation . In a Special General Meeting on Thursday 20th April 2017 the Committee agreed to start the process. We therefore shall, in the future, be changing our charity number, bank account and name of the organisation which will be: Falmadair: North Lewis Sailing Heritage Trust.

Registered charity number: SC050109