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Marine / Salmon workers step in to rescue Steven’s ‘pride and joy’

Photos and video: Steven Spence

THE OWNERS of a small pleasure boat in Unst have expressed enormous gratitude to salmon workers from Cooke Aquaculture who salvaged the vessel after it took on water and sank during unexpectedly stormy weather on Thursday.

Big Monkey, which is owned by Steven Spence and his wife Margaret, was tied up at a pontoon in Uyeasound and took a battering when the wind abruptly whipped up to storm force 10.

Steven, who was working as a skipper on the Yell Sound ferry at the time, said he got a message from office staff at Cooke Aquaculture to say the boats tied up at the pontoon were “heaving around”.

“It came up out of the blue, really,” he told Shetland News.

“It was forecast up to force 7 or something but nothing like yun. The wind speed here was going over force 10, nearly hurricane force, and that had happened up in Unst as well.

“[Our boat] looked as if it was low but by the time the boys had got their oilskins on to go down to the walkway then my one had unfortunately gone. The front end was sticking out of the water by then, they couldn’t get her saved.”

In a social media post he said he had felt “utterly helpless when I got wird wir boat had sunk”.

Having been relieved of his work duties for the rest of the day he headed up to Unst and said it was “brawly sad when you see your pride an joy lyin’ on da boddam”.

But after the wind eased in the afternoon the salmon workers came with a boat with a crane attached and were able to retrieve Big Monkey from the seabed, which thankfully was only to a depth of around 1.5-2 metres.

Steven said he owed a “massive thanks” to those who helped both for salvaging his boat and working “tirelessly” to save the other boats at the pontoon.

“Those boys are worth their weight in gold,” he said. “They couldn’t do enough to help, they’re fantastic, looking after everybody’s boats.

“It’s one of the things living in a place like Unst – good community spirit, pull out and help everybody. When I arrived they were all in good spirits, pulling my leg a peerie bit – I’ll definitely buy them a few pints!”

DH Marine staff have set off for Unst to take Big Monkey – named by her former owner after his son, a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan – down to Lerwick for what Steven described as “A&E” on Friday.

While radios and electrics will all be “knackered”, Steven is hopeful that the outboard engine is salvageable, and the boat is insured.

“Luckily, I think there is a bit of damage on the hull and the windscreen has gotten smashed, but most of it is just a few scratches here and there,” he said.

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