This photo is of the Tarbert ring net boat Oak Lea. She was my introduction to the plight of ring net boats. Chris (my husband) and I took this picture whilst on holiday near Kyle Lochalsh on the west coast of Scotland before we became involved with Shemaron. Although she was in such a state of decay I thought she still held a certain poise and beauty. To me it seemed there was a gracefulness about the way she was returning to the land. You can’t see it very clearly here but there was a tree growing through her deck. This reinforced the idea that the land was reaching up to take her back. I was drawn to the incongruity of the boat in this situation – out of the water. It emphasised her strength, even though her body was broken, she still stood gallantly beside the barn.
Oak Lea was my window into the past, a past that was full of interest and crying out to be explored.
End of the Line – Ring Net Boat Oak Lea
“We were on holiday in Dornie when we came upon her leaning against a barn on a farm by the roadside. She looked such a huge thing and so incongruous with her surroundings. She was in a sorry state, her blue paint still visible but flat and flaky, with a tree growing through her middle. She was in a state of gradual collapse, succumbing slowly to decay. She still had majesty about her and dwarfed the barn wall where she leaned. There was so much about her that expressed her original identity. It seemed as though she had just stopped fishing for a moment’s rest but couldn’t quite get the energy to return to the sea. In a sad way, it seemed fitting that her wooden skeleton was slowly returning to the earth.”
Standing proud your lichen-covered bow rests in green
Awkward out of salt soothed sea,
Against the barn.
Shackled by roots shivering and slithering through your timbers.
Boughs and branches where masts and rigging once flexed and
Creeping moss clinging on your planks, stretching slow along your sleek
and sinewed lines.
Earth to earth,
Cradling already your splintered shattered frames.
Tarbert Fishing Boats 1925-75