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We are looking for help from readers to solve the mystery of an intriguing package delivered to the Argyllshire Advertiser.
The carefully-wrapped bundle contains a ship’s log of sorts, dating from 1956. Its dog-eared pages contain a highly entertaining account of the adventures of the ‘Fulmar’, a 41-foot gaff cutter built in 1901, and her colourful crew.
The package was accompanied by an unsigned note saying the log book had been bought recently among a lot of assorted items at an Edinburgh fleamarket.
The writer of the note added: ‘It is far too interesting an item for me to simply discard and the only thing I could think of was to contact the Argyllshire Advertiser.’
It begins with an account, warts and all, of the ‘Tobermory Race’ from Bute to Tobermory, via the Crinan Canal, in July 1956. The Fulmar won the Tobermory Cup for the large class, winning in a time of 10 hours 28 minutes and 42 seconds.
Later that month, she set off on a cruise from Crinan up the west coast, around Mull and back home. The book records fascinating day-to-day detail, with particular focus on the meals enjoyed during the voyage, everything from salmon to grapefruit – only on Sundays – and fried eggs to cold tongue. There are colourful accounts of the weather conditions, meticulous maps of the coastline and photos and descriptions of people and vessels encountered along the way.
But by far the biggest event recorded is the weather affected will-she-won’t-she visit of Her Majesty the Queen, at the time just three years into her reign. The Royal Yacht Brittania was battered by south westerly gales, but the Queen still made it ashore on Mull to greet her adoring public, much to the delight of Fulmar’s crew.
On a more sombre note, the vessel was at Crinan in August that year when news came of the sad drowning earlier in the week of a fireman from a puffer tied up in Crinan harbour.
The log’s mystery is deepened by the fact no names are given other than the nicknames ‘Tanky’, ‘Bosun’ ‘Skipper’ and ‘Pilot’. The only crew member named is pet dachshund ‘Major’.
The log does record the Fulmar’s home port was Tighnabruaich and the owner was RG Mowat, but few details on Mr Mowat can be found.
Over to you, dear reader.