North-east fisherman gifted new boat after suspicious fire at north-east harbour

George Skinner, left,  lost his boat in a fire at Cove Harbour and has been given a new one by boat builder James Anderson, right
George Skinner, left, lost his boat in a fire at Cove Harbour and has been given a new one by boat builder James Anderson, right

A north-east fisherman who was devastated to learn his boat had been torched in a suspicious blaze has been gifted a new vessel.

George Skinner, who has fished out of Cove Harbour for 40 years, said he was “devastated” to learn his boat was one of five set alight in the incident which took place at around 3am on Sunday.

The 69-year-old, who has owned the boat for 20 years, said: “My phone had been switched off overnight and I got a call in the morning to say there had been a problem with vandalism.

“I gave one of the fisherman a quick phone back.

“Everything had been burnt to a cinder with five boats destroyed in total.

“I didn’t anticipate the amount of damage there was.

“It was absolutely devastating, after having had that boat for as long as I have had.”

Emergency services called to fire at an Aberdeen harbour

But George, who lives in Westhill, said he “couldn’t believe his luck” when he was told boat builder Jimmy Anderson, 59, wanted to gift him a replacement vessel which he picked up from Peterhead yesterday.

He said: “Jimmy and his brother do boat building. When they saw what had happened he made the gesture and donated the boat.

“I couldn’t believe my luck.”

The fishermen have been touched to see good wishes pour in from the community and further afield in the wake of the incident.

George added: “It has been good to see the response from the community and the well wishes from all over.

“Everybody just can’t see what it’s all about.”

Jimmy told the Evening Express: “I felt so sorry after hearing what had happened. I’m a former fisherman myself.

“I had a spare boat I thought they might get use of so wanted to pass it onto them.”

Investigations into the blaze are continuing with police carrying out additional patrols in the area while extensive inquiries into identifying who is responsible continue.

Five boats, together with equipment, fishing gear and a shed, were burned beyond repair in the incident.

Detective Inspector Norman Stevenson said: “We continue to appeal to anyone with information about this incident to get in touch as soon as possible as our inquiries continue.

“This malicious act has deeply affected the fishermen whose livelihoods have also no doubt been affected and I can’t begin to stress how disappointing this is.”

Video: Fishing boats torched in ‘vindictive’ attack at north-east harbour

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference number CF0003930119 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Police say they are keeping an “open mind” about whether a fire and vandalism incidents at the site of the Aberdeen Harbour expansion at the Bay of Nigg are linked.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said: “This has plainly had a major effect on local fishermen and the community around Cove Harbour.

“The impact of that damage is hard to quantify for local fishing. Livelihoods are at risk.”