About the SHTP project: This Shipshape Heritage Training Partnership (SHTP) project is managed by NHS-UK and funded by a £261,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund Skills for the Future programme. It provides ten 12-month training placements at five partner sites offering on-board specialist training to ensure the significance of the various historic vessels and the ability to operate them safely and effectively is kept alive. The trainees will also undertake a tailored course in historic vessel maintenance at the International Boatbuilding Training College and an interpretation placement at the Scottish Fisheries Museum. A skills mapping exercise will provide template training models for the wider sector and an assessment framework for seamanship skills will be developed as a project legacy.


Shipshape Scotland hosts one of the five partner organisations in the form of the Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther, a National Museum, telling the story of the Scottish fishing industry, its boats, harbours and communities. http://www.scotfishmuseum.org/reaper.  Whilst at the Scottish Fisheries Museum, the trainees will undertake the following:

  • Sailing on board the Museum vessels - Reaper, a restored Fifie sailing herring drifter and the baldie White Wing, (both lug rig)
  • Learning traditional seamanship and deck work on board lug-rigged vessels, including: handling the rig safely and setting sails for optimum performance, understanding the physics of the rig, boatwork, steering, ropework, and safety on traditional vessels
  • Undertaking specialist maintenance tasks on the Museum vessels
  • Evening and weekend team rowing activity with the Rowing Club on one of the Museum’s St Ayles skiffs
  • Undertaking curatorial, museum conservation and interpretation work, including skills in fundraising, business and conservation planning, researching vessel significance and audience development etc to better understand the historic vessels in the collection
  • Working with the visiting public, welcoming school groups to the vessels and integrating with volunteers from the local community

Shipshape Heritage Training Partnership film

Cat reported his experience during her year as SHTP Trainee for the documentary on the project that has been issued in January 2016 to clebrate the end of the project.

Watch "Learning the ropes"


March 2015: Update

Catherine Holt completed her year as an SHTP trainee slightly early, leaving to take up the offer of full time employment at Chatham Historic Dockyard where she could put the new skills she had learnt into practice.


November 2014: Update

Catherine spent the majority of November aboard of Excelsior and continued her boat building education at the International Building Training College with the other SHTP trainees. 

The first week was taken up with completing a number of RYA qualifications including RYA powerboat level 2 and RYA First Aid. She also had the chance to visit a local Wherry base and discuss the running and maintenance of these boats. Steve Hall visited again the trainees to give them a second master class on sail making. Her task was to make her own kit bags from canvas using many of the stitches and techniques used in traditional sail making and repair.

Back in the joinery shop Catherine completed a number of projects including making spars and boat hooks, turning our own fids on the lathe, and making half models. For Catherine one of the highlights was to learn wire splicing, including Liverpool splices, worming, parcelling and servings and how to make grommets and how to do a seizing. Another valuable skill was caulking; she was taught how to caulk hull and deck seams using both the traditional oakum and pitch method but also cotton and red lead putty.


October 2014: Update

October has marked the beginning of the winter refit season and the end of several projects which Catherine worked on.

The two volunteers (Maria & Maria) managed by Catherine made steady progress with the restoration of Suzy with help and advice from the boats club. The project gave Catherine the chance to implement some changes in the way conservation and restoration work is documented at the museum, as well as get some hands on practise at boat maintenance. 

In preparation for the winter refit Reaper’s masts were taken off. Catherine treated them with a Linseed oil mixture to help preserve them. She also helped with the lifting of White Wing out of the water ready for an extensive refit which will begin at the end of November. All the others SHTP Trainees joined her in this task and gained plenty of hands- on experience. Meanwhile Reaper received a new set of sails.

Catherine completed a draft copy of her Personal project which is a Conservation management Plan for a Newburgh salmon coble, one of the small boats in the collections of the Scottish Fisheries Museum. She looked into the boat’s history, context, current condition, and recommendations for future care and display. The resulting action plan will be incorporated into the conservation unit for herself and the other trainees at the end of November. The contents will include a mixture of seminars, practical sessions and field trips, and ensure that all the trainees have a sound understanding of the principles of conservation in the context of historic ships.  


September 2014: Update

September marked the end of the boat club sailing outreach programme finishing on a high after two very successful weekends at the celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge.  The first weekend saw Reaper and White Wing both taking part in a Flotilla of 160 vessels passing under the Forth Road Bridge. 

As part of Archaeology Month, Catherine was able to put her background in Maritime Archaeology to good use and delivered a children’s workshop about Maritime archaeology.  She has also been given the opportunity the develop and expand her museum skills this month by attending an ‘Object handling and Packing’ course at the National Museum of Scotland and a ‘Documentation’ at Museums and Galleries Scotland.


August 2014: Update

August has been a very busy month, with both White Wing and Reaper attending events such as: the Pittenweem arts festival, the Arbroath Seafest, the Whitby Folk Festival and the Commonwealth games. Whilst in Arbroath, Catherine gave some traditional skills demonstrations including mending Reaper’s Sail cover, Splicing (back, short and eye) and sailmaker’s whippings.  Catherine has also been out sailing on Rose Leaf, a 20ft Fifie Yawl, being a much smaller vessel than Reaper this gave her the opportunity to try tacking using a dipping lug.  Within the Museum, she has been assisting with preparations for the new Whaling gallery, including producing a survey of the site of a whale jaw bone arch which it is hoped to relocate within the museum.


July 2014: Update

The first weekend of July saw Reaper as the star attraction at the Burghhead Harbour Festival. Catherine sailed from Buckie and, after a rather wet and windy passage, arrived at the harbour to a great reception including 3 pipers.  On Saturday, she welcomed well over 600 people on board. During the rest of July, Catherine has spent more time with the Museum's other clubs, rowing with the St Ayles rowing club and also learning about and sailing model boats with the Model boats club. 

Within the museum itself, Catherine has been actively taking on some of the many and varied research enquiries that come in.  She also had the opportunity of supervising the small team of curatorial volunteers to accession new objects into the museum’s collection and undertake a thorough audit of the museum's stores.

Catherine has started work on her Personal Project which is to write a Conservation Plan for the Newburgh salmon coble, one of the small boats in the collections of the Scottish Fisheries Museum.  This plan will include the boat’s history, context, current condition, and recommendations for future care and display.


June 2014: Update

Catherine spent this month going on two rotations to experience the different vessels within the SHTP partnership.  Her first placement was with Jolie Brise, owned and maintained by Dauntseys School and saw her join the vessel in Jersey along with 9 school children.  The first day saw her sail to Sark and from there to Guernsey, giving Catherine a chance to steer the boat and help raise and lower the sails.  The following day, she sailed from Guernsey to Cherbourg through the Alderney race achieving a speed of around 13 knots and Catherine got some experience hauling the sails and went out on the bowsprit.  She then sailed across the channel back to Hamble which gave her some practise on the helm and at watch rotation.

From Hamble, Jolie Brise joined the Old Gaffers Festival at Yarmouth, taking part in a race.  The second week on board was spent carrying out maintenance on the boat.  Catherine gained her RYA competent crew qualification, went aloft for the first time and also did on a repair on the dinghy.

Her second rotation was with the Sea-Change Sailing Trust based in Maldon. The first day was an introduction to barges and she then spent several days carrying out maintenance on historic smack Sallie including scraping and antifouling her, as well as spending a day in the boat yard helping to sand and paint one of the new leeboards for Reminder.  She then travelled to Kent to collect Cambria in order to sail her back to Maldon for the Blackwater barge match.

The busy month concluded as Catherine returned to her host vessel placement in time to accompany Reaper to the Portsoy traditional wooden boats festival where she welcomed over 1000 visitors on board over the weekend.


May 2014: Update

This month, Catherine helped the Museum prepare for the opening of a temporary exhibition based around World War One by researching fishing vessels requisitioned for naval service.  The Museum also hosted an international short- film festival “Cannes-struther” to celebrate the festival of museums, and museums at nightCatherine has also been involved in plenty of collections work including supervising some of the museums volunteers to undertake a stores audit, answering public enquiries, and facilitating public visits to the collection. 

She has also been working with the boats club making final preparations aboard Reaper for her first trip including lots of painting.  Reaper then completed her first trip of the season, a two week schools programme stopping at various harbours around the Dundee/Angus area.  Catherine left Anstruther on board at high tide and motored to Tayport, giving her the first opportunity to take the helm.  Each day, there were between 150-200 primary school children on board learning all about the history of the ship, life on board, and fishing. Catherine's main duties were to help the kids raise the sail.  She also completed her first night passage between Tayport and Arbroath.


April 2014: Update

The first two weeks of this month concluded the 6 week initial course at IBTC. During these two weeks Catherine learnt about plumbing and electrics, traditional rope work and knots, boat theory and the basics of painting and varnishing. She also had the opportunity to take a Sea Survival course at Lowestoft College. The following two weeks, were spent with her host placement at the Scottish Fisheries Museum. She quickly became assimilated into museum life, getting to do a wide range of roles including: working with the museums Boats club to finish fitting out Reaper, hands on collections work within the museum, and a research project looking at industries associated with the fishing industry in Scotland, involving 2 -3 days excavations in Montrose at the site of an old ropery.


March 2014: Update

The month began with an introduction to life onboard Excelsior, where Catherine was living with the other SHTP trainees for the duration of the initial maintenance course at the International Boatbuilding Training College, Lowestoft.   She also learned about the maritime history of Lowestoft and the surrounding area including a trip to the Yarmouth Time and Tide museum. The next four weeks were spent on basic joinery and she successfully made a bench hook, mallet, oilstone box and spar gauge. In the second week, she took part in a masterclass learning how to make and repair sails. In the third week, she also got the opportunity to visit the Lowestoft maritime museum, then began learning other skills such as plumbing, electrics and caulking.


February 2014: Update

The trainee appointed to the Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther, in year one was Catherine Holt.  With a passion for maritime history and archaeology, Catherine had previously completed a BSC degree in Marine Archaeology at Bournemouth University specialising in museum care and collections management.  She then went on to do a Masters in Museum Studies at Leicester University.  Prior to gaining the SHTP traineeship, Catherine worked as a sales team administrator for English Heritage, based at Stonehenge.  As a member of the Nautical Archaeology Society, she took part in a number of field trips including a week at the Viking Museum in Roskilde rowing and sailing reconstructed viking vessels.

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