The three-day dash that claimed four mates

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The Independent Online
THE FIVE-MAN crew of the Sapphire were known as the A-team, capable of pulling in pounds 1,000-a-week each.

Their speciality was three-day return dashes within a 60-mile radius of Peterhead in Scotland.

They netted the freshest fish; they sold it at the best prices. But as Sir Walter Scott wrote in The Antiquary: "It's no fish ye're buying, it's men's lives."

On 1 October last year, Victor Podlesny, 45, Adam Stephen, 29, Robert Stephen, 25, and Bruce Cameron, 32, set out on the voyage that was to cost them their lives.

Sapphire's skipper, Victor Robertson, 27, was the sole survivor, and it was not until two and a half weeks later that the wreck of the 22-metre, 76-tonne trawler - built in 1987 by Victor Robertson's father, Billy - was located, lying on its side in a gully, 82 metres down.

It was a tragedy that struck at the heart of the Aberdeenshire town.

Raymond Fraser, of Peterhead Fishermen Limited, said: "I've been involved in tragedies before where one man has been lost, but never a whole crew bar one."

Craig Egner, of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, added: "The tragedy reminds us of all the dangers involved in fishing."

John Stuart, a fisherman who gave evidence to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, said: "The Sapphire was well known as being a floating basket.

"It was a vessel that I wouldn't go in. It was an accident waiting for a time and a place."