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RowAround Scotland: The Special Sections

This is a call for help from SCRA clubs to achieve full coverage for RowAround Scotland. RowAround Scotland is an event that we want every SCRA and St Ayles Skiff club to take part in. It really is for everyone. We need clubs to take on special sections, side expeditions and freshwater lochs. We have Section Leaders working on passage plans for the coastal sections which in the broadest sense looks like this:

RowAround Scotland – Circum Route

However the observant amongst you will note that the main route does not go past the front doors/ harbour entrances of all SCRA member clubs. This is for practical and safety reasons and definitely does not mean that SCRA puts any less value on any single club or group of clubs. We want to treat everyone equally. Regardless of whether you are in a city centre or on a remote archipaelego or for that matter on an inland Loch, we want your club to be involved in everything we do, and specifically we want you to be involved in RowAround Scotland. We also want to bring the expedition to new waters, perhaps not yet blessed with a local St Ayles skiff club. Clubs will be anxious to know how they can help to achieve this!

Well firstly, some of the section leaders have already been appointed for our non-linear sections. So for instance we are very much hoping that in the Western Isles, all clubs will contribute to help SCRA’s Western Isles’ Rep Anna MacKenzie ensure that there is full and enthusiastic involvement in joining up the Outer Hebrides clubs, and passing the baton around the islands.

Other Island clubs might not be joined in to the route, often because of the nature of the passage to the nearest clubs. So for instance Islay, Arran and Tiree will be asked to organise some sort of passage event on or around their own islands. If weather and safety planning does permit, it would be great if these clubs could join up with the the path of the circular route, but it is not necessary…… exploring their own home waters, perhaps with guests, will be appreciated just the same and will be logged on the interactive map.

Some clubs are up an estuary or inlet, and it might not be possible to build in a full up and back journey onto the main route. We are therefore asking that some “side expeditions” be organised to join up with the roundabout route. They will be recorded on the interactive map, and will not need to be done at the same time as the circular route. The appointed section leaders may be in touch with others about these additions. One example is on the Clyde. A few months after a baton has been passed round the lower Clyde, the event will return to Greenock, and in September a baton will go from Greenock (where Royal West reside) to Dumbarton (there is a new club going to be formed in Dumbarton), where it will join Castle to Crane in order to reach Glasgow Coastal Rowing Club at Kelvin Harbour. We are looking at whether it could then go from there right up to the head of navigation of the Clyde, some 5km upstream from Glasgow Green. Other side expeditions may include on the Tay to Perth, or on the Forth to Stirling or a wee visit to the Kyle of Sutherland. Plenty of scope. If you have an idea along these lines, contact your local section leader in the first instance. As we say no need for the timing necessarily to coincide… we can add these side expeditions to the map at any time. It is good to know about them though, so that we can try to ensure that these activities don’t clash with each other. That will ensure that we have a baton available for them.

Cruising up the River Clyde during Castle to Crane Race (pic: Steve Thomson)

Finally we want to tick off as many of our Freshwater Lochs and other waters as we can. We already have clubs on some of these lochs, and other lochs are already built into the plans. So plans are already afoot to include Loch Awe, Loch Tay, Loch Lomond, St Mary’s Loch, Loch Tummel, and some canals (Forth and Clyde, Union and Crinan). However that still leaves around 30,000 freshwater lochs to choose from, the 30 biggest of which are listed on an earlier post! If your club would like to participate by bagging one of these lochs (preferably by logging the length), please get in touch with SCRA Convenor. Each new loch conquered will be recorded on the interactive map. Please though do get in touch with your plans as soon as possible and we will tell you if someone else already has a plan for that particular loch. Remember there may be other Year of Coastal Waters 2020 events planned for that Loch, and it might be a good idea to co-ordinate activities, eg see the Autumn of Endurance on Loch Ken. We are happy enough for you to start this part of the Challenge from 1 January 2020. The event as a whole will finish at the SCRA AGM at Loch Tummel, so anything achieved must be logged before 24 October 2020.

Cruising on Loch Shiel , one of 30,000 freshwater lochs in Scotland. Photo Jon Gerrard

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rowaround.scot

A reminder that the dedicated website for the RowAround Scotland 2020 has now gone live!

http://www.rowaround.scot

It has a timetable for the 13 different sections of the row, from April to October, Gretna to Loch Tummel. All the section ‘pilots’ should soon be contacting individual clubs, to see how they can best be included in the circumnavigation – SCRA would love to involve ALL clubs in the celebration of its tenth anniversary.

RowAround Scotland was recently awarded funding by Event Scotland as part of the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 #YCW2020

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SCRA Green Flags Awarded for 2019

Scottish Coastal Rowing Association is keen to encourage best environmental practice among clubs, crews and rowers. We try to ensure that our activities are all sustainable, and where possible leave our environment in a better condition after than before. We already aim to leave all the participants in a better condition!

Every year we recognise good environmental practice by awarding SCRA Green Flags to some of our clubs. The worthy recipients of SCRA Green Flags awarded at the 2019 AGM are ….

Firth of Clyde Coastal Rowing Club (FOCCRs)

Wormit Boating Club

Queensferry Rowing Club

Stranraer CRC

Boatie Blest

Coastal rowing is, in itself, is an environmentally friendly activity.

The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association is looking at developing an environmental policy and will undertake to ensure that all member clubs are aware of that policy and are committed to promoting practices within rowing that are environmentally sustainable. In the meantime, clubs should consider the following, and feedback any comments or suggestions to the SCRA secretary:

* SCRA undertakes to comply with all applicable environmental legislation. * Safety/umpire boats should be used effectively and maintained well to reduce emissions and pollution.
*Skiffs should be thoroughly cleaned when travelling to new bodies of water to prevent the accidental introduction of invasive species 
* Risks to the environment posed by SCRA and club organised events should be identified and minimised
* SCRA pledges to reduce, reuse or recycle waste and dispose of waste responsibly. As far as possible single use plastics should be eliminated from our activities.
* SCRA will respect local communities and the sea, and leave no visible or lasting evidence of the skiffs’ presence
* SCRA will continue to promote its Green Flag Award to both encourage and reward good environmental practice in clubs.
*SCRA will purchase locally for events wherever possible, including food and drink.

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RowAround Scotland 2020

Some of the ‘pilots’ of the individual sections of the RowAround Scotland 2020 at Loch Tummel after the SCRA Freshwater Sprints.

Robbie, Sue, Kate, Matt, Topher, Alan, Wendy and Lindsay are pictured after the award of medals for the Sprints

A further nine RowAround planners from all over Scotland joined us for a meeting on the Sunday morning after the Sprints to discuss the project and begin passage planning for this ambitious circumnavigation.

The section leaders will be contacting clubs with a draft passage plan for their part of the coast. It is hoped that every one of the SCRA clubs will take part for at least one part of coast. The adventure begins on 4 April on the Solway, and the baton will complete it’s epic journey around the Scottish coast and across inland waters at Loch Tummel on 24 October. #ycw2020

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Congratulations to SCRA Cruising Log Winners 2019

SCRA had three excellent entries for the annual cruising log competition. The three described different sorts of voyages that are possible in St Ayles Skiffs. Please do the clubs concerned the honour of reading each of them! SCRA organises the competition to help inspire others, as well as making everyone aware of what our clubs are up to, and what lessons can be learned from their adventures.

Eastern ARC’s “F120 – the First Attempt” entry describes a one day voyage, but a long one, in an underused cruising area familiar many SCRA clubs. Their voyage round the Firth of Forth was broken down into three legs: North Berwick to Elie, Elie to Kinghorn, Kinghorn to Inchkeith, and Inchkeith to Portobello. The club has a fundamental aim ‘to promote exploration and adventure through rowing expeditions and travels’ . They hope to use this voyage as a stepping stone to devolping a permanatnet challenge curcuit for human powered navigation around the Firth of Forth, to be called the F120. Read Eastern’s log for more information.

An Eathar’s “Feàrlagean Na Fairge” describes a voyage on the West Coast of Lewis. The fleet for the cruise consisted of 4 St Ayles skiffs, a drake and a Sgoth Niseach, with representatives from several different clubs and continents. The descriptions are lovely, and as you would expect now from An Eathar, the photography is absolutely stunning. Read the full log on this link to another post on this site by clicking on this link.

Western Isles. Photo An Eathar.

The 2019 Winners of the SCRA Cruising Log were SCRA’s member club from the Netherlands, Woudrichem. Their voyage was a seven day long adventure on one of Europe’s Great Rivers, rowing from Passau to Vienna in one of their St Ayles Skiffs. The voyage was dedicated to the memory of one of their members who had passed away. Read the full account on the earlier post.

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SCRA Green Flag for Wormit

We would like to celebrate Wormit’s efforts to clean up the environment in the Tay estuary over the last year with an award of an SCRA Green Flag.


Wormit are a club that loves picnics and arrange picnic excursions at every opportunity. It was during one of these excursions that they found a lot of litter on one of the stony beaches up river from the club beyond Balmerino. This consisted of plastics that had been washed downriver and deposited and also cans and glass bottles left by campers. Luckily the crew had some spare bags with them and collected the litter taking it back to the club house for disposal. Now the club take black plastic bags on all excursion rows and also remove floating plastic rubbish from the river ( very good practice for manoeuvrability)! 

The photos show various club members collecting rubbish at Flisk point up river from Balmerino and Lucky Scalp ( the Island off Tayport sands towards the estuary mouth). There are also photos of members participating in a Marine Conservation Society beach clean ( we collected 67 Kg rubbish)and other members have helped with a beach clean at Balmerino  over the summer.


Many rowing members have been involved in litter collection and continue to be so. Thank you to Wormit Boating Club and congratulations on your Green Flag award from the SCRA. We are sorry that in the flurry of excitement we omitted to announce this particular green flag award at the 2019 AGM.


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2019 SCRA AGM – New Constitution and Internationalism

Thank you too all the clubs who attended or unfortunately had to send their apologies to the SCRA AGM. Full minutes will be available in due course, but we know that many will be anxious to know the outcome of a couple of important matters that were put before the meeting for approval.

New Constitution and Conversion to a SCIO: the meeting approved unanimously the concept of converting SCRA from being a membership “Association” made up of member clubs, to being an Incorporated Organisation governed by a new constitution. The full text of the resolution was as follows:

“That, given the advantages associated, the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA) should seek to become a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), and:

  1. that the SCRA Committee be given authority on behalf of the members to agree on any necessary changes to the attached draft Constitution to achieve SCIO status, or any minor changes, without
    further reference to members; and
  2. that on SCIO status being approved by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and the new SCIO being entered into the Scottish Charity Register:
    a. all members of the SCRA be deemed to become members of the new SCIO until such time as the next membership renewal is due;
    b. all assets and/or rights in the ownership or custodianship of the SCRA be transferred to the new SCIO; and
    c. the SCRA Committee members who sign the charity trustee declaration forms which accompany the SCIO application be deemed to have been appointed by the members as board members of the new SCIO until the first AGM following incorporation.

The SCRA will now engage with the Charity regulator to put this resolution into effect. Thank you to the SCRA Governance Group who have put so much effort into this important matter.


Formation of a new International Class Association. The SCRA committee wishes to move forward with other National Class associations to form a new international class association, St Ayles Skiff International. At the moment SCRA is the world wide class association for the St Ayles skiff, and so Skiffieworlds has been held under SCRA auspices to date, and the measurement rules are looked after by the SCRA, all be it with international consultation. At the AGM the following resolution was passed : “To authorise the committee to transfer the rights and responsibilities of the SCRA/ SCR SCIO in respect of being the International Class Association of the St Ayles skiff to St Ayles Skiff International.” The committee will now work towards that objective.

Irish, Australians, Scotch and Dutch will all be working together to Establish St Ayles Skiff International

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SCRA Freshwater Sprints 2019 Sponsored by Scotia Seeds

Thank you to Scotia Seeds (Wildflowers of Scotland) for their kind sponsorship of the Freshwater Sprints 2019. You helped make a great community gathering possible.

Loch Tummel Sailing Club and SCRA Freshwater Sprint Course: pic Alan from Boatie Blest/ SCRA Facebook Group

The freshwater spints are the end of season celebration regatta for Scottish Coastal Rowing. The event is held at Loch Tummel, as a warm up for the SCRA AGM which follows on after the racing. The representatives of the forty or so rowing clubs present were arranged into six teams: South West, North West, St Kilda, North East, Fife and South East. The racing is on a sprint course, starting on a line to the East of Loch Tummel sailing club, racing down to a line of turning marks to the west, before a 180 degree turn and heading back to the finish line, which is about half way back to the start. Conditions were excellent for racing if a little bit chilly. At the start of the regatta the water was absolutely still, but the thermometers were showing minus three degrees. The temperature did climb slowly during the day, as did the breeze. As ever with these championships, Perthshire’s Autumn colours gave a fantastic backdrop.

Freshwater Sprints – pic An Eathar
Returning from the Finish. Pic An Eathar

Fife and North East exchanged victories in the early races, with South West and South East chipping in the occasional win. However as the day drew on North East continued to rack up the points and pulled away to retain the trophy which they have won for three of the last four years. The results sheet can be downloaded here.

  • 1st North East –
  • 2nd South East
  • 3rd Fife
  • 4th South West
  • 5th North and West
  • 6th St Kilda
Pic: Florence Royer, SCRA Facebook Group
Everyone got gold at the Freshwater Sprints – pic An Eathar

In addition to St Ayles racing, SCRA holds its Picnic Class races at the Freshwaters. Hana Werner of Isle of Mull (North West) won the women’s picnic event in Swona, a Clint Chase Caravelle. The Men’s race was won by Andres Leslie of RowPorty (South East) in his Drake 17 “Pasqual”. The magnificent Picnic Class Trophy Basket is awarded to the best performance accross the two races, and was shared this year between “Pasqual” and “15”, a Royal West Sixteen from the South West. It was great to welcome a new boat to the picnic fleet, built specifically to the rule. Stuart Clachan had done a very neat and beautiful job building “Salty Rocket” to his own design. He launched her for the fist time on the evening before the racing.

Picnic Class Racing, Freshwater Sprints 2019. picnic pic An Eathar

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Blue Light regatta nomination for Blue Flag

MRT and RNLI battle it out off Lamlash

Arran Coastal Rowing Club club hosted an Emergency Services Regatta for The Angus Campbell Quaich last weekend in bright sunshine.

In the past, the emergency services on the island used to have a meeting at a pub of choice for an evening of competitive gaming – darts, pool, dominoes etc. In recent years, the pub outings have stopped and when the Coastal Rowing Club built its second skiff it was Dr Angus Campbell’s idea to bring back the friendly competition as an inter-service rowing regatta. Sadly, he died before the competition took place.

Crews from Police, Fire, RNLI, Mountain Rescue, Coastguard, Hospital & Ambulance and the Medical Centre all took part, and were trained over six weeks by ACRC. The regatta was won by the Mountain Rescue Team and the magnificent trophy was presented by Dr Campbell’s daughter.

Spectators enjoyed the racing and the BBQ, and around £500 was raised in a raffle for Arran Cancer Support.

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Feàrlagean Na Fairge 25-28.06.2019

Written by Niall Odhar of An Eathar Rowing Club on the west side of the Island of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

We set out to explore and camp our way around Loch Ròg in the Outer Hebrides, against a background of powerful winds and questionable forecasts. At the close of the first day safely ashore we perhaps unknowingly faced the day’s greatest danger: a “feàrlagan” or shrew. It was scurrying about the road by the boats impervious to the lack of cover. We picked him up without caution, to find a safer place, not knowing that local tradition says – that if a shrew runs up between your legs it can break your back. Perhaps a new item for next years risk assessment.

Our fleet consisted of 4 St Ayles skiffs, a drake and a Sgoth Niseach – all this accompanied by Michael Skelly in his semi rigid fizz boat for support. We numbered between 20 and 25 persons, as participant joined and departed. An Eathar rowing club’s Yackydoola was very much at home as was Falmadair trust’s Callicvol dipping lug sail “sgoth”. Jenny Skylark and Pascual just about know their own way north by now but had brought the Row Porty rowers with them, regardless. Blue Moon, our constant friend, was kindly loaned again by Steornabhagh based Embark and Charlie Green’s Florence joined from a land base each day not only taking radio batteries home to recharge but allowing people who were time constrained to join and leave the expedition. Valuable assistance indeed. Our additional participants included six Australian, mostly Tasmanians, veterans of open boat raiding and representation from Uist rowing club also.

Having that first day dodged winds upward of 20 knots from the north east we snacked at the delicious Miabhaig Scallop Shack as we waited for driver Don and the Horshader bus to take us to the Traigh Na Beirghe campsite. There we met the local sheep who looked proper affronted that we were camped on their machair pasture and brayed loudly as a diversion while the bolder ones poked their faces into buckets and dry bags. We walked in the waning wind to the sweeping beach – some to bravely swim. Eventually campsite warden Fin showed up and conversation soon gave way to him squeezing the “eternal surge of the sea” and many other local musical gems from his new melodeon. The girls danced. He also drew our attention to iron age fort – Dun Bharabhat and the rocky stream studded with small mill ruins that leads up to the tarn like loch and it’s broch remains. Breathtaking.

The second day. Miabhaig was sent and we turned north past Bhàcasaigh for Pabaigh Mòr collecting mackerel as we went. Here we met a melodeon ocean pressing and stretching lifting and dropping us. We gave up on Caolas an Ear – the narrow channel to the wonderful lagoon in the northeast of the island and headed into the safety of Traigh na Cille to make ourselves a short stay Baile na Cille tented village. Here we cooked fish and by erecting an Australian flag attracted a visiting rib from a passing ship. A curious stranger rocked up to our small settlement. Incredibly he was a good friend and colleague of one of our Tasmanians – Martin Riddle – both of them gobsmacked at the chance meeting. In the evening Ian Stephen, standing on the beach told the story of the broken teeth of 15th century Pabaigh resident Tarmod and the vengeful massacre of brothers, hunted down one by one. Tented between the water lily covered lochan and the remains of St Peter’s chapel (1266-1559AD) we slept like the slain.

The third day.
In flat light and faint winds we departed the priest island, as the Norse knew it and headed across the open sea to Caolas Fhlodaigh and Beàrnaraigh Beag beyond. The sea was not listening to the wind – it was still playing yesterdays tune. It proudly raised us and indifferently dropped us, we watched each other marvellously appear and disappear. You’ll never guess what we caught at Bogha na Saoidhean. Yes the ever popular pollock. Stuffed fish head for tea surely? Beyond the cleft separating the greater and the lesser Beàrnaraigh we beached on Traigh an Teampuill. Baggage ashore we got back aboard and went anti clockwise to land on Traigh Mòr. Here the sun blazed. The beach was hot; the sand harvest yellow and the sea so blue. The scene was caribbean – the swimming sensation baltic. Shepherded by Michael Skelly we rock hopped and hugged the skerried coast home to the camp. After roasting rionnach and eating stuffed saoidhean head we assembled raptly on Baca Mòr hillock. In the radiating fading rays of sunset Ian Stephen finished off the Pabaigh murdering brothers in turn. The tale told, another day closed.

Day four
We awoke to nothing. Beàrnaraigh Beag was enveloped, fading at every edge. Soon a glimmer, then a glow of sun. The golden sea was revealed and coastlines appeared beyond the crosses of the churchyard. The curtain lifted on our closing passage back to Breascleit. We were n’t quite ready to concede so we went back on our selves through the toboggan tunnel of an Coalas Cumhang to Traigh Bhostadh. Some dived into the past by visiting the iron age house replica nearby but many just wandered and squandered any serious intention to just wilfully soak up undiluted summer.

Eventually we caught a favourable wind and headed home unhurriedly, the memories already banked, souls and seas restful.

An Eathar Coastal Rowing Club in The Outer Hebrides

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