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Marine / Talks planned on future of Pilot Us

The Pilot Us out at sea.

DISCUSSIONS will be held this year over the future of the historic ex-fishing boat Pilot Us amid concern over its condition.

Shetland Islands Council and Shetland Amenity Trust, which looks after the boat, are due to speak this year to examine “all options”.

In a letter to Lerwick Community Council, museum curator Dr Ian Tait said that under current budgets only “basic maintenance” can be carried out on the wooden boat.

The motor-powered Pilot Us, which is nearly 100 years old and is docked outside the museum, has been used in recent Shetland Boat Weeks.

“She belongs to the council, and the Shetland Museum & Archives gets its budget from them – for all the elements of the service we operate,” Tait wrote.

“Over time, our budget has decreased, but we have to still run the whole service. At the same time, the vessel is aging, as all craft do, so even a standstill budget could never cope with the expenditure required (a large five-figure sum).”

He said when the council and the museum get round the table to talk about the Pilot Us, “budgets will be discussed, as will ownership, and potential involvement of third parties”.

A Facebook group was established last year to bring together people in the community with an interest in preserving the Pilot Us.

They were told that a report on the boat will be compiled and presented to the meeting of the council and the amenity trust.

There is potential red tape, however, over how the vessel is classed as a museum artefact with regards to any possible change in ownership.

Tait said in the meantime “we’re still maintaining the craft until meaningful decision is made during this year”.

“We check security, pumping, oil leakage, stability and so on.”