John (Auld Erne) Hughson was my husband’s great-grandfather, and Morag’s great-great-grandfather.
He was skipper of a sixareen and was known to be an experienced seaman.
There is a story about John, who was called Auld Erne, the sea eagle.
One day when they were going out in the sixareen to go fishing, a visitor to the island asked to go out with them. After they had gone a considerable distance from the land, and fished for a time, it became apparent that a storm was starting to build up and it could be dangerous to be out there. So, Auld Erne set them to rowing hard back towards the land.
After a period of heavy rowing, he judged that they were near enough to land that they would make it before the storm broke, so he let them stop rowing to have a break.
Being a Shetlander, and a man of few words, he didn’t say a word, but put his oar to rest under his thigh and took out his snuff box. This signaled to the rowers that they could pause.
Once ashore, the visitor declared that Auld Erne:
“hoched his oar in the eye of a storm,
( put his oar to rest under his thigh )
And took snuff on the brink of eternity!”
He certainly sounds a real character!