MOST of us are familiar with at least some of the lyrics of What Shall we do with the Drunken Sailor? but a maritime mystery still surrounds a Scottish-built trawler that ended up in Majorca with only its drunken English captain on board 60 years after it was built.

The Margaret Alison was built in Cockenzie, East Lothian, in 1937 and plied her trade on the east coast of Scotland for nearly four decades, before it was sold to a fisherman in Tarbert, Loch Fyne.

Where the vessel went from there is not clear, but she is known to have returned to the east coast, where she worked from the port of Whitby.

The National:

However, in the mid-1990s, the boat mysteriously appeared in Porto Colom, Mallorca, where she fell into disrepair after her skipper died on board.

Now the remnants of the boat are in El Moll, a small boatbuilding yard being run as a social enterprise in the port of Arenys de Mar, north of Barcelona, where a small group of enthusiasts have spent the past four months rebuilding it.

“The captain was drunk when the boat arrived in Mallorca,” said David Costa, one of the team involved in the restoration.

“He died on it and his ghost is said to haunt it, so it was left rotting in the port for years.

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“We got it this year to carry out its restoration but it is very difficult. We are taking out all the rotten boards and putting in new topsides, but we have to wait on new boards being made and delivered.

“The new ones are made of oak, which is a very strong wood and are specially made.”

Costa reckoned they were about half-way through the job, but he admitted there would be nothing of the original Margaret Alison left by the time they finished.

“You can see how rotten these boards are. We can’t put any nails into them because they wouldn’t hold, so they must all be replaced.

“We’ve been working on it for about four months and I think we should finish the job in another four months when we should have a completely new boat. There will be nothing left of the old one except the shape, because we couldn’t salvage any of it.”

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A Saltire flies proudly outside the yard, an acknowledgement of the Margaret Alison’s Scottish roots and the empathy that exists between Catalonia and Scotland.

It also brings in visitors, as The National found out when Glaswegian George (Jordi) McArthur saw us taking pictures at the boatyard.

“I was walking from Canet de Mar along the beach and I saw the Saltire from the road,” said McArthur, a photographer and activist with Independence Live.

“I came down to investigate and the last person I expected to see here was somebody from The National.

“It’s amazing that the boat is here at all – how did it get to Mallorca?”

The Margaret Alison has certainly had a colourful past and has been the subject of some speculation on trawling websites, but the online discussions – which appear to have dried up a decade ago – shed little light on what could be the truth.

Can you solve the mystery?