From Martine Robertson of Port Seton, an account of last weekend’s paddle down the Tay…
A sharp, sparklingly sunny Sunday morning saw us leave the Port Seton boat shed in high spirits, just after 9am. Destined in convoy for the silvery Tay, the plan was to row Boatie Blest and Boatie Rows, the brand new Black Agnes from Dunbar, Jenny Skylark from Portobello, the Anstruther Boats Chris o’Kanaird and St Ayles, and Ferry Lass of South Queensferry, down river from Perth to Newburgh and then on under the Tay rail bridge to Wormit. Not a row for the faint hearted we discovered, but on the day there were no faint hearts; shoogly legs and blistered hands yes, but no faint hearts as each team gave a great account of themselves.
The slipway and the car park at the sea cadets’ hut in Perth was a bustle of rubber and wood and waterproofs, clanking metal contraptions to carry our lovely boats, and Tesco’s bags weighed down with enough rolls, pork pies, cakes and crisps to feed the Armada. As ever there were appreciating eyes run over the different boats and any new bits added; a lovely bit of sign painting on the Black Agnes, smart new red oars on Boatie Rows, but in the end there is no skiff as bonnie as your own, and why would it be any different.
Finally, at the crack of noon, every boat was afloat, including the International Rescue Team in a very stylish Zodiac! A Westerly tail wind and 20 miles to go, we were off and rowing. Some teams had been assembled to give newcomers a chance, some for a training run, some just out for the jolly. Whatever the reason we certainly got a lot of rowing in!
It was a day full of light, clouds chased over the sun, and the reed fringed river was sparkling and silver. Sand banks were avoided as we rowed, on and on and on. Boats fell behind and caught up, bow sitters changed in with spent rowers, and still everyone rowed. Team Zodiac was alert and waiting to ‘fling the thingy’ should anyone fall overboard. As miles wore on and rowers drooped, the Zodiac would offer a rescue package; a wee nudge down the river, or more sensitively named, ‘the push of shame’ by Andrew. Most crews enjoyed the shame, and rowed on refreshed afterwards. For the statisticians among us? Only two boats did not avail themselves of the push of shame at some point, Boatie Rows and Ferry Lass.
The Flotilla dropped in at Newburgh for rest, tea and cakes and in some cases a crew change. A longish walk to the boat club provided relief for some of us. The Newburgh builders took the chance to have a good look at our boats, and for us, it was great to see their new boat in the making.
No hanging about though, lest we become mud bound, so with the cake and pork pie inside us instead of in the Tesco’s bags we set off again to conquer the Tay. We rowed on past more sand banks, where seals lolled about, and small birds peeked from the reeds, through changing light and fatigue, people began hailing the push of shame. From Boatie Blest, Gareth’s voice singing out the rhythm offered a more prosaic momentum. Boatie Rows began to disappear in one direction and Ferry Lass in the other, both were strong, and no push required.
After a detour when we thought Boatie Rows might be going to the pictures in Dundee, she turned and headed for Wormit, according to Stuarts plan, to be first to reach the boatclub slipway. Over the next twenty minutes the other boats came in one by one, crews tired, but straight into the business of getting the boat up the slipway, and onto the trailer, aye, it’s a relaxing thing the rowing.
More tea, more cake, more crack and laughter, as well as a bit of showing off of blisters, well earned, and fair enough.
What a day, we had certainly ‘done the Tay’, the sun had stayed with us, as did our good humour and sheer pleasure in what we do in coastal rowing. It’s tiring and hard work, you even have to put the boat away yourselves when you get home! But, I know when I got back to Port Seton, I said ‘look, we’re back at our own wee harbour, are we not lucky’ and you know what, I bet at some point during the day every rower thought to themselves, ‘am I not lucky’.
When’s the next thing then?
A big thank you to, Brenda from the Sea Cadets in Perth, Danny from the Wormit sailing club, Sam in Newburgh, and Andrew who set up the whole thing.
For more photos (and a different perspective) have a look at the RowPorty http://rowporty.org.uk/6-go-mad-on-the-silvery-tayblog here: