Unst Boat Haven

Boat Haven

The Unst Boat Haven explores the island’s relationship with the sea, from the important role the fishing industry has played over the centuries to the leisure pursuits of inshore fishing and sailing races.

Discover how Unst was once an international hub for the fishing industry and about the migration of people following the “Silver Darlings”.

Highlights include our collection of handcrafted vessels from Shetland and across Scandinavia, the “Far Haaf” sixareen and our extensive collection of maritime artefacts.

For many hundreds of years Unst has lain in the midst of one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. The small wooden boats fished for cod and ling which were cleaned, split, salted and dried on the stony beaches. The dried fish were then shipped abroad in massive quantities. Boats like the sixereen ‘FAR HAAF’ were capable of fishing thirty miles off shore., while sturdy fourereens fished nearer the coast. With the onset of sudden storms there were disastrous results.

From the middle of the 1800’s herring fishing played an increasingly important part. It is difficult today to look round Unst and believe the following : In 1861 Unst had a population of 3000, In 1869 there were 28 fishing boats registered in Uyeasound. In one week in 1904 seven steamers sailed from Baltasound with 3000 tons of cured herring. In the three summer months of 1905 almost a quarter of a million crans of herring were landed at Baltasound (1 cran =4 herring baskets).

There were 40+ herring stations in Baltasound with their coopers, gutters, and labourers, – a huge extra summer population. It will help to bear this in mind when walking round the Boat Haven. The wooden boats all have one thing in common. They are all built in the Scandinavian style of construction.

Boat Haven Directions

From Belmont ferry terminal follow the main A968 road north, following the signs for Haroldswick, turn right after the Skibladner and Viking Longhouse, along the shore road, you will find see the Boat Haven set back off the road on the left.

Open 1st May to 30th September. Daily 11am to 4pm. Out of season opening, on request. Please contact info@unstheritage.com for more details.

£4 adult entrance fee including season ticket if required.

Children under 16 years free