Types of Yole 

The Orkney Yole has several design features that suggest a Nordic ancestry.   She is a true workboat, built for seaworthiness and cargo carrying capacity.   The yole may vary in length from about 13' to 22', but is more generally about 18' long by 7' or 8' of beam and draws about 2'.  Variations occur according to the builder but there are two main categories - the North Isles Yole and the South Isles Yole. 

In its middle section the South Isles Yole is like a shallow wineglass.  This makes her very stable and, coupled with a wide beam, gives her a good load carrying capacity.  With ten or eleven strakes per side, the garboard rises steeply and the second strake takes a sharp turn, flaring then to run near horizontally to the turn of the bilge. She has a good sheer and a flare forward to keep her dry.   In the days of working-sail she carried one or two spritsails on unstayed masts and a jib flying to a bowsprit.  Currently there are four spritsail yoles afloat, three three-sailed and one of the smaller two-sailed models. 

The North Isles Yole has less rake in the stem and, consequently, reduced flare forward.   She can usually be identified by the construction of her timmers (timbers).   They run alternately across the floor to just above the bilge and from the gunwale down to just below the bilge so that adjacent timmers overlap by two strakes.   The traditional North Isles rig is standing lug.  In the last few years the numbers of seaworthy North Isles Yoles have increased , a few have been rescued from retirement and a new 14’ 7”  yole is currently being built by Richard Wilson.

The Stroma Yole is a close cousin from the island of Stroma in the county of Caithness.
Willie Mowatt's Stroma Yole "Hope"  

The Stroma Yole was built for work in a demanding part of the Pentland Firth. She is generally as big as the largest of the Orkney Yoles and much fuller below the waterline, with generous shoulder and quarters, a Roman nose and a rudder like a barn door. Latterly these boats were decked, with small hatchways for the crew to work from.


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