— #24 Newhaven Harbour
Initially the fishing boats were small so that they could easily be beached. A small boat design that originated in Newhaven was known as a Skiff. These were built in Fishermen’s Park. In the early 1800s these timber-built boats were about 20ft (6m) long and had a maximum width (beam) of 12ft (3.6m). They were undecked, had a curved bow and a raked stern. By the mid-1830s the boats were larger and heavier, for sailing further and further afield chasing the elusive herring.
The Fifie was the predominant fishing boat on the East Coast from the 1850s until the mid-1880s. Its main features were a vertical stem (bow) and stern. The mizzen sail was placed so far amidships as not to need an outrigger boom. A long straight keel and wide beam made Fifies very stable, which allowed them to carry a very large set of sails, enhancing their speed. The first decked Fifie was built in Eyemouth in 1856; from 1860 onwards, all Fifies were decked.
Fifies could roughly be split into two classes: 50ft — 70ft plus and the smaller 20ft — 50ft. This smaller class were commonly known as yawls or Baldies (Garibaldi — the popular Italian general and patriot of the time). The smaller Fifies were used for creels, lines and seine netting. Many of these vessels were built up to the late 1930s. Before the introduction of motorised skiffs, the larger vessels in Newhaven were mainly motorised Fifies.