Introduction / The Island / Transport
Shipping was a large problem for the island, especially prior to the construction of the jetty in 1935.
Robert Leslie spoke of his grandfather, James Groat of Lakequoy, getting news of a cow for sale on Egilsay. Taking a man with him, he went there on a bonny day. He got a loan of a spade to dig divots (pieces of turf) to cover the bottom of the boat to prevent the cow’s feet from going through on the journey back. They got it loaded and set off. There were sufficient men there when they arrived to get the boat hauled up and the cow ashore.
The Pharay women used to weave mats from straw or tough grasses called "flackies." Special “flackies” were made to tie around the feet of cattle being boated across to Eday. This prevented their feet from bursting the boards of the boat. A cow kicking off her “flackie” and putting her foot through the boat caused the drowning of Peter Harcus and James Allan in 1887.
After the wreck of the “Hope”, the salvage company left a flat bottomed boat that was used for a time.
In the late 1930s, all cattle were shipped via Eday. The SS “Earl Thorfin” would call on a Monday hence the cattle were transported to Eday possibly on the previous Thursday or perhaps the Friday or Saturday. One man then had to go with each beast and lead it all the way down from Guithe to the Pier at Backaland in the south.
Horse and large work oxen couldn’t be boated as there weren’t boats of sufficient size but they still had to be got ashore from the steamer.