Fishing a drop out of the drink

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The Independent Online

Lancashire fisherman found themselves in the drink yesterday as they re-enacted scenes from the Ealing comedy Whisky Galore and pursued a liquid cargo that was lost six months ago but has surfaced in the Irish Sea.

Bottles of Scotch were selling for as little as pounds 5 in the port of Fleetwood as the local population took to their boats.

"The conversation round here is `What bottles have you caught today?', not `What fish have you caught?', said a spokesman for the Harbour Control office. "It's not very good stuff, though, so I'm told."

The alcoholic cargo, worth pounds 50,000, was lost from the roll-on roll-off vessel Spheroid when a 26-ton container went overboard in October, off Drigg Point, in Cumbria.

It was thought that the whisky had sunk 15 fathoms below the sea, but locals said the container had broken open and thousands of bottles were along the seabed.

Fleetwood Police said no offence was being committed, but after local radio reports that Customs and Excise officials were taking a keen interest, a blanket of silence fell over Fleetwood.

"I've got a terrible head-ache," said one skipper. "I'm told the whisky is a fine blend, but the salt's got to it. I haven't had any myself. You won't find a skipper in Fleetwood who's touched a drop."