A NORTH Berwick seafaring institution has packed in her oars and headed down south.

The Sula II, a much-loved wooden passenger boat, has ceased her summer tours around the Bass Rock and neighbouring islands after more than four decades of sailings.

The clinker-built vessel is making her way to Southampton after being sold by owner Duncan MacRae.

Mr MacRae, who purchased the vessel about 18 months ago, said: “The Sula II is a very old vessel and will struggle to comply with new safety regulations coming into force next year from the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency).

“As I take safety very seriously, I had the chance to sell the Sula II and she has now moved down to Southampton.

“Sula III has now been ordered and purpose-built in Scotland to the highest modern standards and will be operational by next Easter.

“For this season I am just about to secure the use of another vessel to keep the excellent Bass Rock sailings available for the public.”

The boat was originally purchased in the 1970s by legendary North Berwick boatman and fisherman Fred Marr, who had been working on passenger launches from North Berwick throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

She was the second boat he had bought for the purpose of tours, the first one (Sula) being slightly old with a paraffin engine, so it was sold and Sula II replaced it.

Pat Macaulay, Fred’s daughter, said: “My father purchased Sula II in 1973 after seeing an advert in the Fishing News. This boat was originally called the Janet and was built in Norfolk.

“The name Sula was chosen because it is the Latin name for the gannet, the bird that made Bass Rock a world-renowned bird sanctuary.”

The boat took tourists and locals out to sea from North Berwick on the Bass Rock tours under the Marr family up until 2011, when Fred’s son Chris retired after 50 years’ sailing.

Fred himself had retired in 2003. He passed away in 2008 and there is a plaque in his memory at North Berwick harbour.

Sula II has seen many celebrities and dignitaries over her years, including Prince Charles, Brigitte Bardot, Sir David Attenborough, Alan Titchmarsh and Bill McLaren.

Pat, who now lives on the Isle of Lewis, said: “I have been contemplating for some time putting together a scrapbook of memories, photos, thoughts and reminisces from the many hundreds of people who enjoyed boat trips aboard Sula II over the years.

“Sula II is etched into my heart and bloodstream, as is Bass Rock, it’s a very special place.”

To get in touch with Pat with memories from the Sula II, email patandthesula@gmail.com