The steamship 'Ailsa', whose captain was John Watson, was very much a part of the romantic scene of the harbour in the twenties and thirties, with her mass of gleaming brass and flying bridge. She plied a passenger and tourist trade between Cromarty and Nairn and during the Nairn Games Day would make as many as three trips starting at 6am, carrying about 120 passengers on each trip.
Apart from her frequent visits to Nairn during the summer months, the 'Ailsa' also ran to Inverness with passengers and cargo, to Fort William with potatoes and from Kinlochleven to Invergordon with aluminium. Captain Watson was a legend in his lifetime, having sailed round the world several times in wind-jammers. For years he was coxswain of the Cromarty lifeboat and was reputed to have saved 72 lives at sea in various parts of the world.
(Text from Hector MacDonald, Tour Guide, Inverness)
Albums: The Sea
Groups: Interview with Clem Watson, The Ailsa - the ferry between Cromarty and Invergordon
The same book tells us that Ailsa had been purchased by the same John Laird to replace Sutors, a vessel he had bought from the Cromarty Steamshipping Company in 1925. Comment left on 20 June 2006 at 22:54 by Ronald Stewart
The previous two lifeboats were the "Pulling and Sailing" type which were obviously much slower than the "AILSA. Could this be correct? Maybe Clem Watson would know? Comment left on 01 June 2009 at 22:03 by Alex Grant
Comment left on 16 February 2004 by Anna Hogg Verner