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Boat Wynd


In my young days Boat Wynd was a busy place.  Boat Wynd is the piece of ground that's between the gables of the houses, Carrick House and Catherine Bank at the very west end of the Earlsferry beach.


In my time, attached to Boat Wynd was a stone slipway very similar to the slipway that's at the west end of South Street in Elie except that it was an extension of Boat Wynd and went straight south into the sea.  Like the Earlsferry harbour that up until 1776 existed somewhere close to the Boat Wynd slipway, the stonework of the Earlsferry  slipway also succumbed to the pounding  of the winter south easterly  gale force waves that drive in from the North Sea. 


Nothing now remains of the Earlsferry harbour or the Boat Wynd slipway.  History books of The East Neuk of Fife make mention of the Earlsferry harbour in connection with The Chapel hospice and the sea crossing passageway from Earlsferry to the south side of the Firth of Forth.  The vessel that spirited Macduff, the Earl of Fife, to the safety of the south shore most likely set sail from the Earlsferry harbour.


No doubt after all of the Earlsferry fishermen were drowned, apathy as to the harbour, set in and timely repairs that should have been done weren't to the point that winter storms became victorious over the hand of man. Or it could have been that the cost of repairs just overwhelmed the ability of those who had to pay.


In my early Earlsferry years the small fishing boats that Earlsferry men owned numbered about ten. Most were clinker built row boats of about twelve or fourteen feet in length. During the summer most were kept moored between the Cockstail Rocks at the end of The Cadger's Road and a few found summer anchorage near the black wall at the end of the beach.


Usually about the end of September as the halcyon days of summer were dwindling to a close all of the Earlsferry boats were hauled up the slipway by means of ropes, wooden rollers and the brawn of the boat owners to spend the winter in the safety of Boat Wynd.  I remember one enterprising man who borrowed one of the Clydesdales from one of the local farmers to provide the hauling-out horse power for his boat. During the winter and the following spring, Boat Wynd became the Earlsferry boatyard as the boat owners worked to repair and paint their boats to get them ready for the next summer season. A few boats stayed in Boat Wynd all year round.


I would suspect that when the Earlsferry fishing industry was in its heyday and before Carrick House and Catherine Bank were built that the boatyard, what's now Boat Wynd, covered a far greater area of the foreshore.


Just recently, in the interests of the history of the village of Earlsferry, my Earlsferry friends Jems, Jimmy Linton  and Alberto, Albert Lawrie have been diligently searching for the disappeared Earlsferry harbour and have identified the location of the old harbour and  have found some of its stonework.


Remains of Earlsferry Harbour as discovered by Jems and Albert