Life of Pi – by Duncan Harley

Todays news that officers from Fraserburgh Coastguard Rescue Team were called out to investigate reports of a sinking ship off Cairnbulg comes as no great surprise.
Called into action by the HM Coastguard Operations Centre in Aberdeen following a report by a concerned walker the investigators quickly realised that the wreck was none other than the fishing vessel Sovereign, which had foundered off Cairnbulg in 2005.

This is not the first time that the rusting wreck has made headlines.

July 2014 saw the crew of the Fraserburgh lifeboat summoned to rescue the crew of the Sovereign only to discover that it had foundered some nine years before A member of the lifeboat crew told reporters that a tourist had been standing on Tiger Hill when she spotted the ship lying on its side on a reef.

Scottish Television News reported that "She must have thought that it had just freshly sunk and made the call to the RNLI. It is a familiar landmark to locals but you can see how easy it would be for a visitor to mistake it for a vessel in distress. It was a mistake made with the best of intentions."

The Banff-registered trawler had in fact run aground during a winter storm in December 2005 with the five fishermen on board being airlifted to safety.

The rusting wreck later made international headlines when it made a surprise appearance on a promotional cinema poster for the Hollywood movie Life of Pi. The blockbuster, an adaptation of a Yann Martel novel, features the story a 16-year-old Indian boy who becomes a castaway when the ship carrying him to America is wrecked in a violent storm.

Oddly perhaps, the young lad is then marooned on a lifeboat with a wild tiger for company.
Meanwhile over at at Cairnbulg, the winter storms from the North Sea continue to batter the wreck of the Sovereign and with each successive storm the shipwreck moves closer and closer to the shore.

Local wags at Cairnbulg and the neighbouring village of Inverallochy, fearful perhaps of having a genuine tiger making it ashore to take up residence on Tiger Hill are seemingly planning to erect a Tiger enclosure in the village, just in case.

In truth of course, locals have been campaigning for years to have the wreck removed from the foreshore not least because of fears that local children, lured to the reef by the prospect of adventure might drown.

Duncan Harley is author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire plus the forthcoming title: The Little History of Aberdeenshire - due out on1st  March 2019. Both titles can be ordered via Amazon.


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