The Isabella Fortuna

Built by James Weir, Arbroath, the Isabella was launched on the 15th September 1890. With an overall length of 45 feet, 13 feet 9 inches beam and a draught of 6 feet the vessel was intended for line and drift-net fishing. She was powered by two big lug sails, a jib and five oars.

For 86 years generations of the same Smith family fished with the vessel from Arbroath.

In 1919 a 15hp Kelvin engine was fitted but by 1928 greater power was needed for the seine-net fishing and a Kelvin K2 44hp engine was installed. This was upgraded in 1932 when a Kelvin K3 66hp engine was fitted and this engine continues to power the boat today. At that same time the name was changed to Fortuna.

When in 1976 the Smith family retired from the sea Hobson Rankin, an enthusiastic restorer, bought the vessel and began a 4-year restoration project. In 1980 the Fortuna became the Isabella Fortuna incorporating once more the original name.

In 1997 the Wick Society bought the Isabella Fortuna from Hobson Rankin and Michael May for £6000.00. Mr Rankin donated his share of the vessel to the Wick Society to assist them in using the vessel to promote the rich heritage of Wick's fishing industry.

Since that date enthusiastic volunteers have been engaged on a continuous programme of renewal and restoration. (A pictorial record of the vessel and the restoration is available from The Wick Society.) Major reconstruction, renewal and overhaul have been necessary to keep the boat seaworthy. The Wick Society acknowledges with gratitude the countless hours given by volunteers and skilled tradesmen in bringing the vessel to life. We also thank local businesses for the generous donations of money and materials that have made the restoration possible.

The Isabella Fortuna is normally berthed in Wick Harbour but during the winter she is housed in the old Lifeboat Shed on the South shore of Wick Bay. This enables maintenance to continue throughout the year.

With a voluntary crew the vessel visits ports for festivals and other sea-based events and promotes the aims and purposes of The Wick Society. In 2005 the Isabella Fortuna featured on the BBC Songs of Praise programme from Caithness.

For any enquiries about the Isabella Fortuna email museum@wickheritage.org
Boat Logs 2008
Boat Section
Isabella Fortuna
Restoration
Boat Logs 2006
Boat Logs 2007
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