Another Century reached.

We have had an interesting time over the past couple of weeks, with several invoices out for payment, and waiting with great anticipation to see who was going to get their money in to be the proud owners of the 300th St Ayles Skiff.

I am very pleased to be able to say that this milestone was reached this morning by a new club, on the isle of Tiree. We are expecting an order very soon from Coll, so before they get to race on the water, they will be racing to get their boats on the water.

It is a major achievement that after eight years we have this many skiffs either launched or in build. There are now skiffs in 12 countries, with more to come in the near future.

Thank you once again to all of you who have bought a skiff.

Alec Jordan
Jordan Boats & CNC Ltd

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Ullapool Regatta – 6th, 7th and 8th July 2018

Greetings from Ullapool CRC:   Ullapool Regatta – 6th, 7th and 8th July 2018

To those of you who attended in 2017, thanks for helping to make our 2017 regatta so enjoyable and successful. To those who didn’t, welcome!

Because of the sport’s growth and popularity, we have extended the Ullapool regatta starting from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon, but because of logistical pressures, we now need to limit entries.

Race categories will be as follows: U17, U19, Open A, Open B, 40+, 50+ and 60+ for Women’s, Men’s and Mixed crews.

The U17 and U19 (6 races – Male, Female, Mixed) will take place on Friday evening from 1800 (after ferry departure at 1730) till 2030. The remaining races take place on Saturday and Sunday.

We will run the three most popular categories, (Open A Mixed, 40+ Mixed and 50+ Mixed) as two heats of up to 15 boats and a final. This means that in these categories only we can take up to 30 entries.

The other 18 races will be a straight 15-boat final, so we will take 15 entries maximum for those races. Sorry, but only one boat per club per category, and no time trials.

Please confirm by email direct to UCRC Convenor Jonathan Reid ( whether your club will attend, and in which categories you will race.

We need your replies as soon as possible – certainly by Friday 19th January 2018 – to secure your club and race places. Because of pressure, when we reach our maximum number of clubs and races, we will close entries.

We look forward to seeing you in 2018.

Jonathan Reid

Convenor UCRC – 2017.

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Tawe Nunnugah – Log by Murdo

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Another Book for Skiffies: “The Shetland Boat”


“The Shetland Boat: South Mainland and Fair Isle” was originally published in 1984 by the National Maritime Museum.  This book will be of great interest to students of the skiff, as it really describes the whole heritage behind shetland derived boats.

It was reprinted this year by Shetland Heritage Publications, in association with the National Maritime Museum to mark the occasion of the first Shetland Boat Week in August 2016.  It can be purchased from the Shetland Heritage Shop.   Unfortunately I have misplaced my own copy somewhere in the house, so my ability to review and print extracts is somewhat limited.  It is absolutely jam packed with information about the building and using of double ended yoles and skiffs, and the small differences which distinguish the different types.  There is an explanation of the various seating layouts for rowing (one layout you will not see is four rowers, with one oar each, sitting behind each other in a row…….  as per the St Ayles).  Those with a single oar tend to be sitting double banked (two to a thwart).  There are a couple (contradictory) of accounts of rowing style, and there is also plenty of information on oars, including I recall some folk leaving them in the sun the same way up, so that the blades would warp into a scoop….  although I am not convinced by the weight that should be given to that story!


2017 Shetland Boat week  took place from 7 to 13 August 2017, and the next event will be well worth a visit, as is a trip to Unst Boat Haven, where more information about our type of craft can be gleaned.

Shetland Boat Week

Shetland Museum

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Dunbar’s 110 Miles Rowing the John Muir Way

The Dunbar entry for the Cruising Log is by video.  Please click the following to see the full video……  put it on full screen.

Dunbar’s Video Log



The following is an “action log” for more information:


The​ ​John​ ​Muir​ ​Way,​ ​110​ ​miles,​ ​40​ ​locks,​ ​20​ ​bridges.
Dunbar CRC has become the first to complete the John Muir Way by boat.
Over 20 local rowers took part in the challenge which paralleled the 134 miles by foot on the John
Muir Way stretching from Helensburgh to Dunbar.
WATCH​ ​THE​ ​VIDEO​ ​: “Rowing the John Muir Way”,
music The Hebrides, Fingal’s Cave – Overture. Use full-screen.
Action log of Black Agnes: The John Muir Way row:
Up the Clyde, along the Forth-Clyde Canal, down the Forth, into the North Sea.
Date July 17th — 23rd.
Place Helensburgh to Dunbar
Distance travelled 110 miles = 180 kilometers
Canal 35 miles, 40 locks, 16 bridges.
Weather 6 good days, 2 heavy rain (we waited those out).
Boats Black Agnes skiff
Crew members: 23 lazy sods from Dunbar CRC.
Special commendations:
Christine who rowed the most, Pamela who manned the chuckwagon, Bob who fashioned 5
great paddles, Di who dragooned her 2 grandkids in for one leg.
We decided that with 2 rivers, a canal, and 1 sea we should make some priorities:
1 Safety
2 Adventure
3 Eating and Drinking.
● Canal license: approx £120 gives you 10 days plus the side-fun of a quick up/down
on the Falkirk Wheel. Also a charge of £30/day on the western half of canal (be
● Bowling to Southbank Maryhill: 20 locks are opened by the canalmen over a 7-hour
leg, starting at 9am, finishing at 4pm
● Sea-locks at Bowling and Carron are VERY tide-dependent (read the guide)
● Canal is narrow at some points and the oars will touch the side. Use paddles.
● Bridges are narrow and a speed-up is needed before folding the oars back; we used
5 strong, wooden paddles.
● Passing other vessels, although on the canal traffic is very limited. Use paddles.
● Beware the mussel-banks on the Clyde
● Tidal dependent on Clyde & Forth.
● On the rivers, our coxes were qualified sailors (day-skipper ticket min.)
● On the canal our coxes were experienced with lock-systems.
● Spectacular way to transit Glasgow!
● Skiff is in the canal overnight so no need to launch/retrieve. Luxury!
● Every day is a new view, so turning round. A continuous adventure
● Extra crew can run, cycle or walk along the canal towpath.
● Tidal/river flow dependent; calculate correctly for the benefit.
● You’ll transit the Dalmuir Drop-Lock (unique in Europe)
● Weather dependent on the rivers; the canal is more sheltered.
● Eating and drinking en-route is very good, if you plan well.
● Chatting to surprised locals at lock-gates along the way (“Whit? Ye’re rowin’ that wee
thing frae Helensburgh tae Dunbar? Ye must be bloody mental.”
Useful​ ​info:
a) Scottish Canals Skippers Guide (detailed, read VERY carefully)
b) Tidal Flow charts for Clyde + Forth rivers, copied from a friendly sailor.
c) Tide tables.
d) Nautical charts for Clyde & Forth
e) www.john for a nice map.
You’ll​ ​need:–
Flashlights, bearing-compass, mobiles, VHF, horn, 5 paddles, a simple cox’s loudhailer, plus
the usual skiff safety-stuff, flexibility & good humour.
More info from Kenny Maule (, 01368 860 852)

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Skiffies at Illumination: Harbour Festival of Light

Clubs are invited to attend the Scottish Maritime Museum’s ‘Illumination: Harbour Festival of Light’ in Irvine on Saturday 2nd December.

The festival, which returns for its second year, features an Illumination Trail, a Lantern Parade and a Light, Fire and Aerial Art Spectacular, but most importantly – skiffs! Last year, a number of clubs enjoyed a casual row on Irvine’s rivers before dressing their skiffs with lights and parading in their illuminated skiffs for onlookers to enjoy.

This year, there will be a number of informal pursuit-style races from 11am-5pm and a BBQ ahead of another bigger and better illuminated row past. Fancy joining in? Email to register for free. All participants will receive a 20% discount (via a code) on tickets for the Light, Fire and Aerial Art Spectacular.

For more information on the festival, visit

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New coxes learn the ropes (and charts and VHF) and all things Skiff at Buckie

On a beautiful Saturday morning in November a gang of 25 novice coxes gathered at Buckie RNLI lifeboat station for an introduction to Coxing from the SCRA. That first day was filled full of ice breaking exercises, introductions to Charts and VHF, equipment and much more. The weather lessons were used to give us an understanding of the weather before our Sunday sessions which mainly would be afloat.

Sunday came and as predicted was a wee bit windy with rollers hitting the wall surrounding the Harbour and showering those nearby with spume, so no leaving the safety of the harbour today. The day started with a session identifying the component parts of a Skiff. We then covered race rules, lifejackets and man overboard drills.

A quick brew then it was time to split into crews and go learn the dark art of practical coxing. We rowed forward, backward and in some cases sideward but all mastered the art of manoeuvring skiffs. After a quick warm up in the lifeboat station it was back outside for a session of man overboard training with Stuart Mack and his colleagues from the RNLI repeatedly throwing themselves off the Skiffs while we then chased around the harbour trying to fish them back out.

So there you have it a fantastic introduction to coxing. Now we need to practice the skills we have learnt. Thanks to the SCRA for running the course, Ali, Gareth, Stuart and Dave, and thanks to the RNLI Buckie station.

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At the going down of the sun….

………. and in the morning,   We will remember them.



We have the good fortune to enjoy the sea for leisure and recreation.  The sea joins our communities together, along out coasts and internationally.

As Armistice Day approaches, it is time to spare a thought for those who went before us, and who faced dangers on the sea so that we can enjoy our freedoms today.   Many required to go to sea during war.  A large number of men from our communities served in the Royal Navy.  Others served in the Merchant Navy, supplying the country and transporting troops and evacuees.  Some continued to fish, putting food onto tables, with some extra duties added in.  All faced the risk of attack from above and below to add to the perils that they already endured in challenging conditions.  Some went to sea and did not come back, making the ultimate sacrifice.  Those who did come back made sacrifices of their own.  All required courage and fortitude.  Think of them all, lest we forget.

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Burghead & Findhorn CRC’s Great Glen Adventure

We received five entries for the SCRA Cruising Log competition this year.  The joint winners were Queensferry and An Eathar, but the three remaining entries were all highly commended.  We intend to publish them all, as they will be a real inspiration for anyone wanting to use a boat on the sea.  Here we have a Great Glen adventure from Burghead and Findhorn.

Autumn 2016 saw the first germ of an idea for a wee adventure up the Great Glen in our skiff, Tarbh Uisge.  Whilst at the canal basin at Benavie, Caroline had picked up a map of the Great Glen canoe trail.  She pondered about the possibility of rowing the trail, then put the map in her pocket and promptly forgot about it.  A few weeks later she received a text from Hazel.  Hazel had been partaking in an odd beer or two on the train to an Autumn rugby international when she decided that we really should row the Great Glen.  However, it was not until January 2017 that our various ideas started to become a reality.  We knew St Andrews had already rowed the Great Glen and so contacted them for advice.  Andrew Rendle was incredibly helpful, and in true skiffie spirit, sent us lots of invaluable information.  Thanks must go to Andrew as he really helped kick start our own planning.

We assembled a planning group composed of Hazel, Caroline and Aus.  As you can imagine, much tea, coffee and many, many biscuits were consumed in these planning meetings.  We quickly set a date of the first May bank holiday weekend – mainly hoping the midgies wouldn’t be out in full force yet!  Issues we had to consider were firstly, where we’d be able to safely go ashore to swap crews.  In an effort to try and establish this, Hazel and Aus headed down for a day to recce the area.  They managed to identify most areas, but a couple, on Loch Ness were a little dubious – more about this later.  However, they did successfully manage to find the Inshore Lifeboat Station just north of Drummnadrochit.  The folk there kindly agreed we could moor there for our second night.  Other issues we had to work on were that we didn’t have enough of our own rowers able to commit to the whole 3 days of rowing and we were also having trouble finding someone with access to a safety boat.  This was when we decided to extend an invitation to our lovely skiffie neighbours from Findhorn to join in the fun.  5 of them boldly stepped up to the challenge, and even better, also brought a rib with them! Now we were all set with enough rowers and a safety boat too – yeeha!

We also contacted the Scottish canals folk during these planning stages.  They were really helpful, despite most lock keepers over the weekend looking dubious every time we rowed up to the lock in our skiff.  However, we soon won these keepers over and even received several compliments going through the locks – mainly due to our skills of manoeuvring the skiff within the locks. 

Day 1 – Friday 28th April – Fort William to Gairlochy

Our very over-excited band of merry rowers all arrived at the car park of the Moorings Hotel at Neptunes Staircase, Benavie at 9am.  Thanks to some lovely west coast hospitality, Hazel arrived a just a little later.  After a quick briefing we all set off to launch.  Despite having spent the previous 3 days in bed with the flu, Attie somehow also managed to get himself and his rib ready to launch.  His white face and the beads of sweat on his forehead gave us all cause for concern but he was determined to keep going and get out on the water.

All hands were needed to lift Tarbh Uisge out onto the pontoon where we were able to launch her easily into the canal at the top of Benavie locks.  She was then kitted out with oars, ropes (very important for navigating the locks!), fenders, maps, crew lists plus rower’s kit bags.  We had all done our best to only bring the minimum onto the boat – almost!  Jax did a sterling job of keeping Tarbh Uisge off the pontoon edge whilst we helped an ailing Attie with the rib.  He was still looking poorly but he was catching the excitement of the group, despite having lost his car keys somewhere in his car!  His wife, Sian, was tasked with the finding of the keys which proved no easy task. 

Finally, at 11.20am we were ready to go – somewhat later than scheduled.   This first leg of the journey allowed us to see lots of the local wildlife, including pied wagtails, swans, many ducks and even a peacock!  It took just over 1 ½ hours to reach Gairlochy locks and this was where our late start came back to haunt us.  We had arrived during the lock keeper’s lunch break so we had an enforced 40 minute wait until he came back on shift. Keen to get going, the fresh crew were then even more frustrated as we had a further wait whilst boats came through the lock in the opposite direction.  Gairlochy lock is very deep, and once the skiff finally entered, with new crew on board and shoreside crew holding the ropes, Hazel said it felt like they were in a giant cave as they waited for the water to rise.  We were all relieved to successfully get through our first lock and Tarbh Uisge looked great as she moved out onto Loch Lochy.  Sian was supposed to have been in the skiff but unfortunately the car keys were still proving elusive, so she swapped crews and decided to have a really, really, good look in the car!

Loch Lochy was our first experience of how useful the wind could be.  As coastal rowers we are  all acutely aware of how the wind can make life difficult.  However, we struck lucky and the wind pushed us along nicely up the loch.  With Aus shouting ‘encouragement’ from the rib, our next crew change destination at the Letterfinlay Hotel soon came into view.  The burger van parked in the layby was put to good use by crew shoreside waiting for Tarbh Uisge to arrive.  It was also where those elusive car keys were finally found! The skiff was guided to shore by Helen in full view of some rather bemused and curious tourists.

Car keys finally located meant Sian was finally able to hop in for the next rowing leg.  Attie was alone on the rib for the first time that day, but the rowers kept him amused with multiple rounds of I Spy! 

With the Laggan Locks negotiated and a pretty bit of canal rowed, the next crew change was at Laggan Swing Bridge.  Off we merrily rowed into Loch Oich.  This is a very scenic, narrow loch.  However, despite being over 3m high, 1m wide and bright red, the cox (who shall remain nameless!) managed to steer the Tarbh Uisge right into one of the huge navigational bhoys – a fact that we still bring up 6 months later –  it’s doubtful they’ll ever live that one down. 

The end of the day was at Cullochy Lock.  Unfortunately the late start and the enforced lunchtime stop meant we arrived later than planned so we were unable to get through the lock.  We therefore had to moor up at some sheltered pontoons just before the lock and wish Tarbh Uisge goodnight.

Day 2 – Saturday 29th April – Cullochy Lock to Urquhart Bay IRB Station

We all breathed a large sigh of relief when we returned on Saturday morning to find Tarbh Uisge safe and sound.  We set off in the early morning sunshine with everyone feeling very chipper.  Our boat manoeuvring skills were much admired by the loch keeper at Kyra Lochs – so much so we were all given gold star stickers for our life jackets!  Little did the keeper know that the cox had put the tiller on back to front and that was why the boat shot out to the middle of the canal so quickly!  Once the steering hiccup had been rectified, a nice row was had along to Fort Augustus, meeting up with the shoreside crew on the tow path as we approached the impressive set of 5 locks.


This is where the Friday’s late start came back to haunt us, again!  As we had reached Cullochy lock too late to get through it the previous night, we had a delayed start whilst we got through it  that morning.  We had therefore reached Fort Augustus later than anticipated, and yes, you’ve guessed it….just as the lock keeper was going for his 1 hour lunch.  Added to this, we had missed the downward passage of the locks and so we were left with a wait of over 3 hours.  This spelt disaster for our day, as waiting that length of time would mean we wouldn’t have time to row up Loch Ness to our mooring at the Inshore Lifeboat Station before it got dark.  No one wanted to be stuck out on Loch Ness in the dark!  As we were assessing our options, the only non-rowing member of our group piped up with a rather good suggestion: ‘Why don’t you just carry the boat & rib down past all the 5 locks and launch them at the bottom straight onto Loch Ness?’  Whilst this would certainly save us waiting over 3 hours and get us on the move again, this was in fact no easy task.  Imagine Fort Augustus on a sunny bank holiday weekend…it was hoaching with tourists and there was us, manhandling a skiff and a rib down the path for several hundred meters past locks (and shops, pubs, cafes etc!) all the way down to Loch Ness!  However, with a lot of clever manoeuvring, a lot of grunts and several near misses we made it and successfully launched a fresh crew of Nessie hunters out onto Loch Ness.  We had saved ourselves about 2 hours and were rightly proud of our problem solving skills!

Finding the next crew change point was always going to be a challenge (as mentioned earlier!).  However, a strengthening wind took the decision out of our hands as it was certainly not going to allow us to come to shore without serious loss of paintwork.  The decision was made to ditch that crew change and that a suitable landing point would have to be located further on.  Luck was on our side once again and after about 5km the shoreside crew had found a suitably sheltered area for Tarbh Uisge to come ashore.  The next set of Nessie hunters soon got going and let’s just say the banter on the boat was ‘lively’!   They had a fine view of Urquhart Castle from the water and posed beautifully for many a tourist photograph!  The skiff’s overnight accommodation at the Inshore Lifeboat Station was reached before dark and a weary but proud set of rowers set off back to Fort Augustus for dinner.  The day had thrown up some potentially disastrous problems but we had overcome them. 

After showers and changes of clothing we all re-assembled and found a kind pub, who despite not fitting us all inside, was happy to put on their outside heaters so we could all sit out in the beer garden – yes, beer garden, in April, in Scotland!  Despite being really quite chilly, the food was good and the beer plentiful – so much so, our banter appeared to overwhelm a stag party who moved to more quieter surroundings.  Let’s just say a good night was had by all.

Day 3 – Sunday 30th April – Urquhart Bay to Inverness

During the hilarities of the night before Caroline had received some texts from Boatie Blest (her old club) who were up north hoping to row at Portsoy.  However, a strong easterly wind had put an end to that plan and they decided to head over to Loch Ness to accompany us on our last day up Loch Ness and along into Inverness.  We had very ‘iffy’ reception so communication was somewhat difficult and our ‘plan’ was that hopefully we would bump into them on the water somewhere on Loch Ness – and we did!  It was a choppy Loch Ness that greeted us when we set off and some strong rowing was required to get the skiff up to Lochend.   We beached both skiffs here for a good catch up before we set off on the final stretch of our adventure.  Although excited to be nearing the end of our expedition we did have to concentrate so as to keep away from the weirs – we didn’t want to disappear down the river Ness instead of the canal!  We successfully made it to the last lock of the journey at Dockgarroch.  Then the last leg of the journey to Muirton Locks seemed to take forever.  The landscape was flat and becoming more urban and infinitely less scenic. 

There was a bit of excitement as the A82 swing bridge was opened just for us –  many of us had been stopped there plenty of times in the past for boats to come through, so it was nice to be in the boat rather than waiting in the car!  As the two skiffs reached Muirton Locks there was a lot of whooping and cheering!! 92 miles of rowing done and dusted in 2 ½ days – not bad going at all.

So what did we learn from the trip? 

  • Thankfully, due to our copious planning meetings, the trip overall went smoothly.
  • Fort Augustus was a great central place to stay. There were plenty of accommodation options and lots of choice for food and drink. 
  • We felt we didn’t need a safety boat on the canal sections but it was certainly good to have back up on the lochs.  
  • Be careful how many rowers you take. If we had had any more folk there would have been too much waiting around shoreside and not enough actual rowing. 
  • Unsurprisingly our biggest downfall, which dogged us the whole of the weekend, was ‘timing’. The late start on Friday morning continued to be felt all weekend. 
  • Pay attention to lock keepers lunch breaks, which way the locks will be opened and how this will inevitably impact on the row.
  • More attention should have been paid to the number of cars being used to ferry folk around. There was a lot of car ‘faff’ at the start and end of the trip and this also added to timing issues.

Overall, we had a fantastic adventure.  This was our first non-regatta trip away and it was lovely to share it with our friends from Findhorn.  Many thanks go to Aus, Hazel and Caroline for putting a fine plan together, Findhorn CRC for additional rowers and the rib and Boatie for keeping us company on the final day.  All in all, a very do-able adventure in lovely surroundings.   All that remains is to decide where to go next year…….



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SCRA Annual Subscription 2017-2018

Many thanks to those clubs who have already paid their subscriptions.


Reul na Maidne
Mill St
IV26 2UN
The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association was formed on 29th May 2010 to
encourage boat building, rowing and racing of coastal rowing boats, principally the St
Ayles Skiff, around the Scottish coastline.
We are an entirely volunteer Association of clubs and other groups and rely on club subscriptions to
carry out our work.
Among other activities, the SCRA
 collates advice and information for building and using skiffs on
 supplies building advice and puts new clubs in touch with nearby established clubs
 publishes coastal rowing news on
 issues safety advice and spreads good practice
 has over 1500 members on facebook/ Scottish Coastal Rowing Group
 is the worldwide class association for the St Ayles skiff
 runs coxing, umpiring and race organisers courses in various locations
 organises in partnership with a local body a World Championship every 3 years
 organises a Freshwater Sprint Regatta and AGM at the end of every season
 represents the sport with various government bodies and other rowing race organisers
 publishes and maintains a calendar of events
 issues Rules of Racing for coastal rowing in Scotland
 supplies and advises umpires and race organisers for new clubs
 hires out race marks for regattas
 builds a community of communities
Annual subscriptions are £60 to clubs and groups, or £40 if they have fewer than 20 members.
Subscriptions are due at the AGM which is held in October, and run to the following AGM.
Payment can be made either by a cheque made out to the SCRA and posted to the address above, or
by BACS, contact me directly for account details.
Subs letter 2018.1
I will always acknowledge receipt of payment and supply a receipt by email if asked.
The committee of the SCRA is very grateful for your support and works hard for the best interests
of the sport. I am sure I will see you at one of the many regattas our members hold.
Yours sincerely,
Topher Dawson, Treasurer.



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