There is a lot happening in Dunbar Harbour, so we will keep you informed with our news articles and newsletter. Subscribe to our newsletter on the right of this article and come back to this news page often to read more. If you have news related to Dunbar Harbour then please send us a message using the form at the bottom and we will publish it here.


Recently we’ve often seen Forth Guardsman. She is a Landing Craft, built in 1983, sailing under the flag of the UK . Here we see her anchored just outside the Battery. She visits quite often (not many hostelries in the North Sea).

Gross Tonnage: 654  Length x Breadth: 58.7 x 14.81m, with a carrying capacity of 722 t DWT. Her current draught is reported to be 2.5 meters.

Photo 1 by Kenny Maule,     

Click <<READ MORE>> for photo 2 from https://www.marinetraffic.com

12th August at 11pm til midnight: the forecast was for a clear night, a good time to watch the Perseids shooting stars which come in August BUT it was very foggy instead and you may have heard the foghorns of 4 ships sounding with a mellifluous harmony in the night. My wife and I moved onto the balcony to appreciate the pleasure of hearing these sounds of our childhood when the lighthouses’ foghorns would lowly reverberate down the East Lothian coast (Bass Rock, St. Abbs, Isle of May for my wife) and the Ayrshire coast (Pladda & Ailsa Craig for me). There are no active foghorns remaining in the UK, however Sumburgh’s restored foghorn, last sounded in 1987, can be sounded on special occasions.

Photo 1: the ships offshore at the time they sounded their foghorns (credit https://marinetraffic.com).

Click <<READ MORE>> below to see photo 2: Ardnamurchan foghorn, credit https://uklighthousetour.com 

Now there may not be anything special about the Sumburgh Head Foghorn, but the people who restored it believe it to be the last working foghorn in Scotland. Sumburgh is in South Shetland. To sound the foghorn, the diesel engines are started  and air is compressed into large reservoir tanks at 25 PSI. Then a worker needs to go up a spiral stair case to the horn room and activate it from there. Every foghorn has it’s own unique sounding pattern, and it differs from other foghorn signals in the area, Sumburgh's horn blows for one 7-second blast every 90 seconds. This allowed ships’ captains in the area to know which horn is warning them. 

Listen and dream:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLlsRsUX78w

Question: Why are foghorns designed to emit their tones at such low frequencies?  Answer: Foghorns have very low pitches because sounds with low pitches have a long wavelength. This is important because a long wavelength means that the sound wave can easily pass around barriers, like rocks. This property of a wave is called diffraction. 

Question: What is the difference between frequency and pitch?  Answer: Frequency is the emission, pitch is your perception.

Question: How far away can you hear a foghorn?  Answer: about 20 miles














The female kittiwake lays 1-3 pinkish-brown eggs and both parents incubate the eggs and feed their offspring. The chicks hatch in about 27 days then fledge when they are about 40 days old in early August, taking three to four years to reach maturity when they will return to breed here.

The black-legged kittiwake eats marine invertebrates, plankton, and fish. It feeds in flocks and catches food at the surface of the water in the harbour,  Belhaven Bay and behind fishing boats. It also dives just below the surface of the water to catch its prey; in fact, it is the only gull that dives and swims underwater!  (PS: gannets and fulmars are not gulls)

Herring gulls often carry off chicks much to the parents’ consternation. Be quick to look: the kittiwakes are already leaving; all will be gone by early September.

Photos by Kenny Maule


4th June: The Harbour Master was alerted to a kayaker in the water in the harbour entrance. He was an inexperienced individual but managed to exit the water using the harbour entrance steps – he was then interviewed, debriefed and given guidance by the HM.

8th of June:  A kayak again: second capsize in a few days at the harbour entrance. There was a breaking swell in the harbour entrance -- a well-known danger.

These were case studies in how ‘not to go to sea’, with inadequate preparations and/or no life jackets. So the Trust decided to put the above ‘Beware’ notice at the bridge, where it is easily read, warning of the dangers of transiting traffic and breaking waves at the harbour entrance.

Click <<READ MORE>> below for photo 2, Iain and Gabi, paddleboarding with care, appropriate wetsuits, local knowledge, weather forecast, and VHF radio.

Photos by Kenny Maule.


SAIPEM 7000 is one of the world’s largest offshore construction vessels. She is working for the big windfarm NnG (Neart na Gaoithe ‘strength of the wind’) and laying casings for piles. She is easily visible from Dunbar Battery, 22 miles offshore, just look on the horizon, to the right of the Isle of May. The decks are below the horizon but the cranes are highly-visible, yellow in colour.

The NnG cables will come ashore at Thorntonloch Beach and join the National Grid in the Lammermuirs, near the windfarms there.

Note: SAIPEM is a Pipelay Crane Vessel, built 1987, sailing under the flag of The Bahamas, with a length of 175 meters and width of 87 meters and will be 'on station' for many months. 

photo 1 by Kenny Maule.   Click <<READ MORE>> for photo 2: credit Wout de Mullem, from marinetraffic.com

The Harbour Master and several local residents have been advising SEPA of recent, periodic sewage ‘releases’ and supplying them with photos and a timeline. It is suspected to come from the pumping station located in Victoria St. and we have ‘kept up the pressure’ on SEPA, hoping for a good technical solution soon.

Scottish Water have been tasked with investigating the ‘releases’ and repairing the pipe but so far no positive results. 

Photos by Kenny Maule. Click <<READ MORE>> for photo 2 


 Early one morning, just as the sun was rising  ….  There was drama here at the harbour as police inspected a visiting yacht in the early hours of August the 2nd. 

Several police were present, soon followed by their sniffer dogs’ van and they checked over the yacht, Ceol na Mara (‘song of the sea’) which had been brought alongside the Visitors Berth. Nothing of significance was found and, after some running repairs with assistance from the Harbour Master, she departed in search of a quieter life.

photos by Kenny Maule, photo 1. Police van queue.   Click <<READ MORE>>  for photo 2. Mainsail being unwrapped for inspection.  

Interview with a busy man, Robert Davies, “well-kent roon the harbour, like”. Robert speaks true Dunbar when he’s recalling the past but switches into standard English when he chooses. Robert’s nickname with friends is Fuzz, we won’t ask him why. 

Robert, your family are fisherfolk, does the fishing go back a long way? “My faither died on exercises with the Airborne during WWII when I was 2 months old, but my grandfaither brought me up. Every one of us Dunbar folk and all in the fishing. I had four uncles, and all in the fishing.”

Who were the main fishing families when you were young?  “Easingwoods, Bruntons, Johnstones, they were all here then, and still are.”

How old were you when you got your first boat?   “I’m 76 now but got my first boat at 13. She was the Zealous, about 20ft. She was wrecked in Cromwell Harbour when a spring tide lifted her over the quay and dropped her on ane o’ they posts there. Yon wis a tragedy fur a young lad of 13.”

Any other wrecks?   “The family lost 7 boats over the years. ‘Endeavour’ ripped her bottom off on the bar, the Johnstones roped the boats together to get her in. I lost ‘Misty Isle’ when we were coming into the harbour and there was a guid sea coming on. The sea pushed her into the castle and stove in her prow, she was filling up with water so I shouted to the ‘Endeavour’, a Johnstones boat, and lashed them together to try and keep us afloat but we were going to pull the ‘Endeavour’ under too; we got half way into the harbour when we had to cut her free or they both would’ve gone under. Nearly lost 'Spitfire' twice. “

At what age did you get your skipper's ticket?   “Ye didnae hae tae dae that then, ye jist paid fur it an awa’ ye went. The risk wis aw yours.”

Your boat is Spitfire, easily the most recognisable boat in Dunbar, is she named after the aeroplane?   “Aye, an ma brither was supposed tae hae the Hurricane, but he didnae want tae take on the debt.”

Spitfire was built in Dunbar?   “Aye, 1974, o’er there behind us at Wetherhead’s boatyard, where Barry Buglass has his lobster business noo. A stern trawler,  we used to catch scallops, prawns an' 4 months at the white fish. You need a different net and gear for each. Mainly prawns noo.”

And your crew? “Peter Brunton, 8 year in the Navy, 8 year in the Army, then with me til he retired. Aye, ‘Big Neeps’, was a good crewman.”

Were you ever caught in a serious storm?    “Hundreds over the years. Once we took seven and a half hours to cover the eighteen nautical miles from Eyemouth to Dunbar into the teeth of a north-westerly gale. That’s walking speed, it takes some fuel, and if the engine quits then it’s straight oot wi' the anchor an' quick!“  'Spitfire' is a very stable boat, heavy, with a wooden hull and steel-covered keel.”

Was your expensive gear ever lost?     “Aye, ye can lose a mile o' nets in a minute.“   

How much did that cost?  “Dinnae ask.”

Your son, also Robert, is now skipper of 'Spitfire', do you let him run the boat or do you still 'stick your oar' in?  “No, ye cannae dae that. He looks after her fine. I’m shorebound now.”

You still keep an eye on the harbour from your "gannet's nest" above the slipway. Got any advice for new skippers?  “Keep plenty of water under the keel coming o'er the bar.”

Do you sometimes miss the fishing?  “Aye, it was ma life, but ye’re oot there fur 20 hour sometimes.”

Prawn trawlers fish mainly at night, do you ever go out now?    “Just stay tucked up in bed”

Your store at McArthur's Store is an Aladdin’s Cave (see photo 2) with the best access of all 11 stores. How did you manage that?   “Luck; it was my partner’s faither’s.”

You're an exceptional net-mender, always outside. Do wind, rain or snow ever stop you?  “No. Ye start and carry on til ye’re finished. Ah’m aye daein’ something.”

How long does it take to master the making and repairing of nets?   “Difficult to master. Nooadays nylon nets last a long time but they were sisal afore and only lasted 3 month. Tae learn repairin’ nets it’ll tak ye 2 year to learn. To make nets it’ll tak ye 10 year. Tailored for the type of catch. Ah’m still makin’ mistakes after 60 year at it.”

A few years ago you were getting older and unfit, but now you're 'younger' and extremely fit. What do you do differently nowadays?   “Walking 15 miles a day gets the weight off and fitness comes fast. Maybe I’ll start swimming again to build up the arm muscles.”

Do you like to eat prawns?  “Love ‘em, an’ they’re gey guid fur ye.”

What's your favourite recipe?   “Prawn cocktail.”

Finally:  What's your favourite feeling and memories of the harbour?  “Swimming in the harbour as a lad wi’ Eddy an’ Ian then runnin’ tae Barns Ness fur a race.”

Robert, thank you for your time and stories.

photos by Kenny Maule, photo 1: a busy man, Click <<READ MORE>> below for photo 2: a busy man's store

Bridge Key Holders – the bridge is heavy machinery and very expensive to maintain and repair, so a notice has been inserted in the bridge-control cupboard. Please everyone, look after our bridge, a symbol of Dunbar and vital to the passage of boats and persons.
Photo by Kenny Maule
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ------- Bridge Operation
  • All users must be authorised or under the instruction of an authorised user. 
  • New crew members or any other person operating this facility must receive training.
  • The bridge MUST always be lowered and level after use.
  • Non-authorised users will be held liable for damages and prosecution may apply. 
  • CCTV in operation.



Dunbar Lifeboat:: "Dayna Bisset was today crowned Lifeboat Queen for our Virtual Fete 2020. There wasn’t a parade or the usual festivities at the harbour, but it was still a big moment for Dayna, 14, and her family. Performing the honour was Dayna’s gran, Margaret, and her three-year-old cousin Neeva."

Dayna said: “Thank you to the lifeboat crew. It’s been a difficult year for everyone but I would like to say “thank you” for choosing me to be Dunbar’s Lifeboat Queen. It’s a proud day for all our family.”

Dunbar Lifeboat: "Everyone connected to Dunbar Lifeboat Station is very grateful to Dayna for continuing a lifeboat queen tradition that stretches back to 1963. She was joined at a specially-staged ceremony at the Battery by her family, including dad Stuart and uncle James – who previously served on the crew. The crowning of our queen is the culmination of two weeks of competitions we have been running to raise funds for our Lifeboat Station."

Fundraising Chair Veronica Davies said: “We’ve been delighted with the response. We couldn’t have a Lifeboat Fete – virtual or otherwise – without a queen and it was important to maintain the tradition of the crowning ceremony. Although Dayna has not been able to enjoy all the usual fun of the fete we’ll look to involving her in next year’s event.”

Photo credit: RNLI facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rnlidunbarlifeboat) 

Have any questions? Give us a call 01368 865 404