`Sputnik trawler' is a nickname given to two classes of series-built side trawlers. In the mid to late 1950s and early 1960s, these new and revolutionary boats were intended to replace ageing steam trawlers. The little workhorses had to combat the inevitable prejudice against something ground-breaking and also the torrid economic state of the trawling industry in the 1960s. Inevitably, there were casualties. However, removed from their intended role as mini-side trawlers based at the main trawling ports, the sputniks began to turn in some fine performances for skippers belonging to the inshore ports. Sputniks became successful seine netters, pelagic trawlers and scallop dredgers, their performance often enhanced in later years by extensive rebuilding, which left fifteen-year-old vessels looking like brand new boats.
Against the odds of the 1960s trawling depression, some of the sputniks even did well as side trawlers and spawned the larger `Spinningdale' trawlers. The Spinningdales proved an exceptional success as side trawlers and their design was every bit as capable of being adapted to other forms of fishing as the sputniks. Some of the Spinningdales were built as outstandingly successful seiner/trawlers for inshore fishing, where they were later joined by many sister vessels following the demise of the trawling industry.
This book is a memorial to the sputniks and Spinningdales, with brief histories and photographs, and some fine fishermen's anecdotes about the multitude of things these boats did during some of the best years the fishing industry will ever know.