messages to the mainland the St Kildans sometimes used
a 'mailboat'. A mailboat is like a little model wooden
boat that can carry a tin with a letter inside. A sheep's
bladder attached to it acted as a float. Usually the
boats were sent for fun but sometimes it was very serious.
In the winter of 1876 the St Kildans were very short
of food so they sent a message in a mailboat asking
for help - the message was picked up in Orkney. Only
three weeks later a boat from Orkney arrived in Village
Bay with food.
Today people still make and send mailboats from St Kilda
- just to see where they land up! Most travel north
and can end up in Orkney, Shetland or Norway as that
is the way the tide carries them.