Salty Sea Dog Karlsson

The son a deep-sea fisherman, Göthe Karlsson was only ten years old when his mother passed away

As his father spent too much time at sea to look after five children, Göthe and his siblings were split up and raised by various relatives. Their bond nevertheless remained strong and the family’s three boys would soon follow in their father’s footsteps.

Göthe and his brothers Eskil and Allert spent most of their life on boats, supporting their own growing families. They mostly fished for herring or prawns in the Skagerrak and North Sea but would sometimes go as far afield as Iceland or Shetland.

By investing in a pair of well-equipped steel trawlers – Skogland and Skaftö – The Karlsson brothers could bring home larger catches than other local boats and, as such, were seen as pioneers of modern fishery. They even exported fish to Germany and Great Britain.

There are countless stories of Göthe’s dramatic life at sea. On the 14th of November, 1963, he even managed to steer his crew through a tsunami. They’d been trawling for herring south of Iceland when they suddenly found themselves confronted by a wall of water (caused by the same volcanic eruption that created the island of Surtsey). The wave knocked out all the windows of the trawler’s pilot house but all her crew miraculously survived.

Some 19 years later, in August -82, Göthe was to narrowly cheat death once more. Skogland was fishing off the north-east coast of Denmark when she was rammed by the Japanese tanker ship Fuyoh Maru. There was an almighty bang! If the trawler had been hit just one metre further aft, the crew wouldn’t have stood a chance, but they all somehow managed to escape and were rescued by a fellow Swedish fishing boat, the Florön from Kungshamn.

Skogland herself wasn’t so lucky. The trawler was crushed and sank before it could be rescued. But, as the Japanese tanker was judged to be at fault, Göthe could buy himself a new fishing boat on insurance and carry on in his beloved profession for the rest of his life.

The memory of Göthe washes over us every time we enjoy some freshly caught fish. And, yes, despite that incident in 1982, we do still stock Japanese whisky in our bar.