PAPA STOUR - Shipwrecks
Photo: The 'Fit o Leera Skerry' marks the southern end of Lyra Sound, where the 'Juniper' ran aground. In the distance Foula catches the evening sun.

There have been many ships wrecked around Papa Stour's rugged coastline. Tiptans Skerry in Hamnavoe has claimed Dutch, French, German and Norwegian ships over the centuries.

In 1967 the Aberdeen trawler "Juniper" ran aground in Lyra Sound at the bottom of the 200 ft cliffs. The Aith lifeboat arrived in time to save the 12 man crew and the coxswain was awarded the silver medal for this very daring rescue.

Less happy is the story of another Aberdeen trawler, "Ben Doran," which foundered on the terrible "Vee Skerries" in March 1930. It took the lifeboat from Stromness in Orkney, 120 miles away, three days to reach the scene. But, despite being able to see the last crew members clinging to the rigging, neither they nor the local boats were able to effect a rescue due to the atrocious weather conditions.

In February 1940 the cargo ship "SS Highcliffe" ran aground in fog on Forewick Holm. Happily, conditions were mild and only the ship and cargo were lost.

The Elinor Viking is the most recent ship to run into trouble around the coast of Papa Stour. In December 1977, in storm force winds, the vessel hit the Vee Skerries tearing a large hole in her side. With the Aith lifeboat unable to get near to effect a rescue, a British Airways Sikorsky helicopter winched all the crew to safety despite the winds; and the helicopter crew later received a number of awards for bravery. After this incident a lighthouse was erected on the Vee Skerries in 1979.

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