A 100 year old Mohican


Mohican is an Orkney Yole around a hundred years old. She's sailed from Longhope along with several others.

Mohican is believed to be the only yole built as a pleasure boat, commissioned by a doctor retiring to Orkney from Canada. Her name has changed a few time, but for the last few years has returned to the original name.



My father acquired Mohican last year; while visiting this summer I had the chance to sail her with my father and daughter. It was a wonderful experience – and not surprisingly a completely different one from sailing my own Walkabout.


In the gallery above, from the Orkney Yole Association, Mohican is the leading boat in the picture of two yoles racing in the 2008 Stromness regatta.

Yoles are the traditional workboats of Orkney; there are two types of Yole, North Isles and South Isles, and the closely related Stroma Yole. Yoles almost disappeared after the 60s, and a resurgence of interest at the end of the last century led to the formation of the Orkney Yole Association in 2000. The remaining yoles – and some new builds – are sailed regularly, attending regattas all around Orkney.



A South Isles Yole moored in Stromness Harbour.



About Osbert Lancaster

Creating ripples to foster sustainability. Seeking solace & clarity on the sea by sail & oar.


  1. Sheena Hewitt

    Hi, very excited to see your photos. This yole used to be owned by my family. The Hays of Bayview, Flotta. You can see a picture of them mooring up in the Mohican at Kirk Noust on Orkney Image Library. http://www.orkneycommunities.co.uk/imagelibrary/picture/number25116.asp The doctor you talk of is the man in the the middle of the yole Carl Hay. He is pictured with his siblings and brother in law. When he qualified as a doctor he had his first practice at Longhope. This might be when the Mohican went to Longhope. He eventually moved to the Aberdeen area and I imagine he sold it then. Do you know when the yole was built. Is it pre 1895? Carl didn’t live in Canada but his father John retired back to his home in Flotta from Argentina in the late 1880s. John worked for the railways. Would love to hear about anything you know.

  2. Anonymous

    Hi SheenaThanks for the information – fascinating. I don’t know the answers to your questions, but I’ll let my father know and see if does.All the bestOsbert

  3. Anonymous

    Here’s some information from my father:Mohican is thought to have been built on Flotta about 1910. She then disappears from local knowledge except that she was owned (used as a commercial fishing boat, I think) by Billy Budge’s father: this must be just post-2ndWW as Billy is my age but cannot remember her.She next surfaces owned by a man called Merriman from Stromness who gave up sailing her in, I think, 70s or 80s. She was called Irene by him after his wife.She was then bought by Barry Jones who adapted her to single-handed sailing; he sold her to Tam White, a Fifer who owns the Stromabank Hotel. He kept the name Irene, painted her dark blue all over, and mostly used her for sports fishing using an outboard motor – I am not sure if he ever sailed her.Tam sold her about 4 years ago to Mary Harris of Longhope and the boat was sailed by her then boyfriend, Angus Budge, son of Billy Budge, who reverted to the old name of Mohican.I bought her from Mary in 2009/10 after she (Mohican not Mary) had been in a shed for a year or more. I have just got rid of the blue in the photo and she is now just white and scarlet – the paint-job is rather bad as the masking tape I used leaked appallingly. I am re-rigging her a bit.Does anyone know why and when she was converted to a gunter-rig? From the 1915 photo she was originally a standard three-sailed, two-masted sprit-sail. I would like to convert her back but the two-masted scheme demands a crew of at least 2 & preferably 3, so I am going to find out whether there might be any future in moving to a lug-sail for easier single-handed sailing.

  4. Sheena hewitt

    Being built on Flotta in 1910 sounds likely, as our family photo shows them in the yole in 1915 and it looks like new, I always suspected she was built on Flotta as I had heard there were excellent boat builders on the island. I was delighted to hear the yole has reverted back to Mohican its original name. The family also owned another smaller, single masted boat, (would that be a yole as well?) which they named Mohawk. The Hay family had an uncle who emigrated to Canada and I know they would have been enthralled by the stories they were hearing from him about his adventures, pioneering and trading with the natives. They were also very keen readers and their book collections were full of books of exploration and adventure like The Last of the Mohicans and A Thousand Miles in The Rob Roy Canoe. This is where I think the rather romantic and slightly incongruous names came from.My family and I were delighted to read all about the history of the yole, we have often wondered what had happened to her but never imagined she had survived all this time, had so many owners and was actually still in use. Hopefully the photo of her in 1915 is some use to you in restoration. If I ever get up to Orkney I???d love to see her in real life.

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