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Build a Skiff in Kirkcudbright- Meeting on 23 January 2018

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Stranraer to Host Skiffieworlds 2019

Stranraer in South West Scotland has been chosen as the venue for Skiffieworlds 2019.  The hosts of the competition are the Stranraer St Ayles Skiff Project.  The championships will run from 7 July 2019 through to 13 July 2019.

Stranraer and Loch Ryan

Skiffieworlds is the World Championship for the St Ayles Skiff class of coastal rowing boat.  The Championships are held every three years.  Ullapool in North West Scotland hosted the inaugural championship in 2013, and  Skiffieworlds 2016 was held at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.  Previous championships were attended by crews representing local communities from as far apart as Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Netherlands. England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  Over 1000 competitors are expected to take part at Skiffieworlds 2019, and it is hoped that newly built boats will encourage participants from Eire, Denmark and France to attend, along with anywhere else that builds a St Ayles Skiff before July 2019.

Robbie Wightman, SCRA convenor, said today:  “International delegations went to all the potential venues for Skiffieworlds2019. We were  very impressed by the proposals put forward by Stranraer and are delighted that they have accepted the offer to host the championships. The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association looks forward to working with the local organisers to put together a memorable event for locals and visitors, featuring safe, spectator friendly, exciting and enjoyable racing along with giving everyone a chance to experience the beauty and the welcome that Stranraer, Loch Ryan and the wider area of Galloway have to offer.”

Raymond Mundle, Chair of the Stranraer St Ayles Skiff Project said “We are all delighted with the news of Stranraer’s successful bid, and look forward to working hard with all concerned to deliver an outstanding World Championship.”  Wendi Cuffe, also from the working group added “This will bring a real buzz to Stranraer.  It presents a great opportunity to showcase the wonderful Loch Ryan and will be fantastic for the town , the people and the area”

 

Skiffieworlds2013 at Ullapool (photo Kathy Mansfield)

 

Strangford (Photo: Allan Robertson)

Stranraer was chosen after a careful selection process which involved each of the potential venues being visited by a delegation of five experts, with each delegation having rowers from at least three different countries and  key organisers from the previous skiffieworlds’ hosts.  Thank you to those delegates, and thank you to the unsuccessful bidders, either of whom could we are sure host an excellent championships and will hopefully go on to host great events in the future.

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2018 Events on the Forth and the Tay

Eskmuthe Regatta Start Line

There are several regatta already slated in for 2018 in the South East.  The first of the season is the opener for the SCRA Youth Series, hosted by Eastern ARC at Portobello on 7-8 April.  We are eagerly awaiting the dates for other Junior regattas on the Southern Youth circuit.  The South East opener for the senior events is Cockenzie and Port Seton, where the event is hosted by Boatie Blest on 28 April.  The racing is tight and good coxing is rewarded at this most friendly of regattas.  Get it in the diary!

Taking the Air at Anster

Anstruther‘s regatta on 12 May is already fully booked as is the Queensferry regatta 2 weeks later on 26 May.  Well worth a visit to cheer on your favourites, but the success of these regattas demonstrates why we need more clubs to host local regattas, so that folk taking up the sport can have regattas to aim for.  Hosting a regatta can be hard work, but is very rewarding and builds a stronger club.  Please do let us know when regattas are, so that we can share them on the SCRA calendar.

Action moves to the Tay on 2 June, where Broughty Ferry host their Regatta on their tidal waters.   Races will be 2 km long.  Contact details are in the calendar.    RowPorty welcome crews to their regatta on 23 June.  Races from the beach with plenty of space for spectators there and on the prom.  A week later and a short trip past Leith Docks will take you to the Newhaven Midsummer Challenge.  An entertaining event featuring running and sailing as well as rowing.

Thereafter there is a bit of a gap in the calendar (which hopefully some other clubs can fill with an event or two) before Eskmouthe welcome visitors to Musselburgh and Fisherrow on 11 August, and then there is the small matter or racing round the rock at North Berwick brings the SE regatta calendar to a conclusion on 25 August.

So lots to look forward to on the Forth and the Tay in 2018, but equally space and enthusiasm awaits for other events!  Lets be having you, and lets enjoy a whole year of social fun in coastal rowing boats.

North Berwick

Do support as many of your local regattas as you can, as well as travelling a distance to some outwith your region, to help ensure the diversity of these events.  Make sure you buy cake and possibly beer to help to fund the activities that you are taking part in.  Some of the events listed above will be limited in the number of skiffs or the number of clubs that they can accommodate, and some are invitation only, so it is worthwhile checking early doors that your club can attend.  Keep checking the 2018 events tab, for other events being added.  Two more posts will be added shortly, with summaries of events in the South West and in England.

Enjoy planning your clubs’ year ahead!

 

 

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Rowing the Caledonian Canal with the Questing Queensferry Quines


The Great Kelpie Hunt
July 9th to 14th 2017

We have so many people to thank for enabling this adventure to happen. First, thanks to Queensferry
rowing club for agreeing that we could take the Ferry Maid on this amazing trip. The support of Donna,
the club captain, and others on the committee was very much appreciated.
Thanks for all the useful advice from Ranald Mackie to our Skipper Flan sharing his extensive
knowledge of the Caledonian Canal, same for John Howell how also directed Flan in her fact finding for
the passage plan.
Anne P for driving us all for the recce, we would not have had such a successful trip without it. All the
shore support who made it so easy for the rowers to enjoy themselves and then get dry clean clothes at
the end of the day.
All the staff at the Caledonian canal who made our trip effortless, they were always welcoming and full
of good advice.
All the other boaties on the canal but special mention to the skipper of Candy and the captain from
Rosemarkie – Rafting up with them was fabulous. And the two guys at Aviemore who helped us with the
trailer on the way home.
And lastly Flan, who did all the running about, the passage plan and smoothed the way so we could all
share in this adventure- Thanks Flan it was a blast!

Preparation
As a group, we had discussed canal rowing over the winter of 2016-17 and finally agreed
in May 2017 to tackle the Caledonian canal. We knew St Andrews coastal rowing club
had done some of the canal in relay with safety boat support. But we wanted to row the
whole canal from Corpach to Inverness as a crew with only shore support. The obvious
time to do it for several logistical reasons was the middle week of July 9-14th 2017. We
decided to travel west to east to maximize the prevailing wind particularly on Loch Ness.
T-30 days the organizing meeting
The nucleus of the group (Anne F aka Flan, Anne P, Liz, Jan and Barbara) called a meeting to arrange the
trip and assign tasks with timescales for completion prior to the trip. We had agreement in principle
from Donna the club captain that we could take the skiff Ferry maid after the Ullapool regatta. Our work
plan included:
• Decide route with stops and distance per day- Passage plan
o Flan was tasked this this see Appendix 1
• Risk assessment
o Accompanied the passage plan
• Logistics for towing the boat and storage of trailer
o Anne P was our tower; Liz was to sort out storage and locations
• Accommodation- We were NOT camping (midges/midges/midges)- thanks to wise Barbara!
o All accommodation was booked that evening
• Crew-4 of us were rowing the whole distance but we needed to fill one spot
o We had 3 rowers filling the last spot- Mel for day 0, 1 and 5, Rachel D for days 2 and 3 and
Isla from Broughty Ferry for day 4.
• Rules and bylaws of the canal
o The Skippers guide to the canal was an invaluable source of information and contact details
for the whole route web link: https://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/wp-content/…/caledonianskippers-
guide-rev.pdf
• Coordination of shore support
o We had 3 groups of shore support Jan and Maria for days 0-2, Paddy for days 3-4 and Maria
and Andrew for day 5. Their generosity of time meant that we didn’t need to transport
everything in the boat, our personal kit could go by car.
• List of essentials for the boat
o See passage plan
• List of essential kit for all participants
o Waterproofs, thermals, waterbottle, mug for hot drink, midgie repellant, energy snack,
gloves, dry change
• IT- set up What’s App group for participants and twitter group (QQQ)to report our journey
• Tasks were given to all to be completed before our reconnaissance trip 7 days prior to the
adventure.

Reconnaissance trip T-7 days
The 5 (Flan, Jan, Barbara, Anne P and Liz) headed off to Corpach on Sunday 2nd July with a list of
objectives as follows:
1. Check out launching slip options at Corpach- 3 options a locked slip at the timber mill, a locked
slip at the boat yard and if all else failed Lochaber yacht club across the bay at Fort William.
2. Check out mooring at Corpach- excellent pontoon just outside the sea lock gates.
3. Check out bacon rolls at Corpach- yum!
4. Introduce ourselves to the canal people and book the boat in for its passage
5. Eat lunch- yum yum!
6. Find our accommodation for each night so we knew it existed and how to find it
7. Find the mooring at Drumnadrochit- this was a real worry.
8. Find the Caley marina in inverness and check out the slip for skiff recovery
We had a very successful trip with all objectives at Corpach achieved, the canal people were extremely
helpful with advice and options for our passage and they booked us into the diary for Monday the 10th
at 8am. We also found all our accommodation and most importantly the intrepid flan risked life and
limb to find our mooring point at Drumnadrochit. The only objective not met was the Caley marina, we
ran out of time and headed home feeling that we were ready to go! Liz was tasked to contact Caley
marina in the Monday to discuss our options re slip for recovery and storage of our trailer for the week.
Brian Mackenzie at Caley marina was fantastic offering us secure space for both the trailer and the Land
rover for 5 days plus help when we arrived on the Friday to recover the skiff and load her up on the
trailer.

Day 0 Ullapool to Corpach- 0.5 nautical miles
(nm)
Rowers; Flan, Anne P, Liz, Barbara and Mel
Shore support; Maria and Jan
After a busy day’s racing at Ullapool we stopped for chips and ginger to allow the other traffic from both
the ferry and the regatta to clear before hitching the maid to the land rover and heading off sedately to
Corpach. It was an extremely uneventful and steady 3-hour drive arriving in Corpach timber yard where
we could launch our skiff at 10:30 pm. We were met by Flan, Jan, Mel and Maria plus ravening hordes of
midges, they were fierce!
We had to retrieve the key from the nearby sawmill which was open 24/7, in order to open the slip gate
and allow us to launch the Maid into Loch Linnhe. Jan and Liz retrieved the key while the others
unloaded the boat from the land rover and got her ready to launch. Once the gate was opened the 6 of
us pushed the boat and trailer halfway down the steep/narrow concrete slip then took the skiff off the
trailer and women handled her into the water. All this was done while being eaten alive by absolutely
fierce midges. We placed a head torch on the bow of the boat with another one on the head of the cox
organized the oars and fenders for mooring. We were ready to go.


It was a still, clear night with flat calm water and excellent visibility as we rowed the few hundred
meters to the start of the canal, at last we were in the water in a truly beautiful setting at midnight
leaving the voracious midges behind for an ethereal row in the moonlight. Once the maid was secured
on the mooring outside the sealock and emptied, we headed back to the lumber yard to retrieve the
trailer and return the key to the sawmill. The trailer and land rover could be left at the Corpach basin
carpark for as long as we wanted as part of our license fee for canal passage.
We then retired at 1am to the Snow goose hostel in Corpach, just behind the basin, for a much-needed
sleep- 6 to a room bunk beds, sheer luxury.

Day 1 Corpach to Gairlochy 6 nm
Rowers; Flan, Anne P, Liz, Barbara and Mel
Shore support; Maria and Jan
We woke at 6 am to the most perfect west highland morning, bright sunshine and no wind (midges!!).
The loch was like a mirror and from the garden of the hostel we could see the maid waiting for our real
adventure to start.


We need to get cracking because there is a time limit to when the sealock gates will open dependent on
low tide. In addition, we had a very tight schedule with a lot of locks to pass through and a trailer to get
to inverness. We headed out to the skiff at 7am (canal opens@ 8) to get her set up for our first day.
Seats, rudder, drinking water, change of clothes, grab bag, maps and food box were all loaded up. To
our surprise, the canal office opened early at 7:30am and the master was expecting us, and wanted to
put us through the lock as soon as possible. We paid our license fee (6.5 meters of boat for £130;
Appendix 3) a bargain. We were also presented with two keys which gave us access to toilets and
showers all along the canal.
We were told since we were ready, and obviously competent that we could go through the sealock early
and on our own. We had been previously informed by the canal staff that we would all have to exit the
skiff and “walk” her through on ropes. However, once they saw us row the maid into the lock and
moored the boat onto the side of the canal they changed their mind and said we could row her in, all
stay in the boat for the passage through each lock, and out. Our first passage through a lock was
uneventful with the maid behaving impeccably as the water rose under her. This was our first lesson in
manoeuvring in locks- bring her in under oars and then ship oars, fenders out, and take her in to the
starboard side of the lock using the rudder and short paddles coming to rest next to the lock ladder
positioned between position 3 and 2 in the boat.

Crew members then ascended the ladder and the two, 15-meter tow ropes were thrown up and
secured through the cleat at the lock edge. As the water rises, the ropes are kept taut, to keep the boat
next to the lock wall and under control. This was a pattern we would repeat multiple times over the
next 5 days.


Once out of the sealock into Corpach basin we retrieved the ropes and handlers and rowed across the
basin to the next set of three locks. This time we would be accompanied by a couple of yachts This
would be our first experience of “rafting up” in the locks We were incredibly lucky to meet a family
travelling in the sail boat “Candy” who were delighted to allow us to raft up to them. We hung back as
Candy motored into the lock then paddled in fenders out and rafted up to the Yachts port side. We then
rose in the lock as a unit. Once the first lock was opened Candy motored out with us still attached into
the next lock for the same process to occur.

Once through the second lock at Corpach Candy cast us off and motored off. We had an approximately
1 nautical mile to row before reaching Neptune’s staircase, a rise of 8 consecutive ascending locks that
would get us up to the level for the longer row to Gairlochy. The morning was beautiful; the canal was
calm with wide bends so we decided to give ourselves a stretch and raced the yachts to Neptune’s. We
quickly overtook the yachts, it felt great to be rowing in the canal.

We reached the Banavie swing bridge before Neptune’s ahead of schedule at 9:30 am ready to ascend
the staircase


We knew we would be in the maid for a good 2-3 hours once we entered the staircase. This was our
chance to get organized with our shore support and eat breakfast! Our friends in Candy had now arrived
at the bottom of the staircase and were once again happy to allow us to raft up with them. We would
remain attached to Candy for the whole trip up the staircase. Shore support, Jan and Maria, supplied us
with fresh coffee and bacon rolls plus our custom-made drinks holders which we attached to the
gunnels of the maid. These would prove to be one of the best innovations of the trip, made by flan, a
design adapted from one we saw in the Dutch boats on our trip to Woudrichem.


Fantastic cup holder made by the Flan. Perfect for water bottles mobile phones, snacks, sunglasses,
seeing glasses (given our age essential!).
Once we exited the top of the staircase it was time to stop, take stock of our kit (we needed a boat hook
and a tarpaulin) and move the trailer and Land rover to inverness. While Flan, Mel, Barbara and Maria
stayed at Banavie. Jan, Anne P and Liz set off for Inverness, Caley marina, in convoy. We had arranged to
leave the trailer at Caley marina for the 5 days. The first day had the shortest rowing distance so it was
the obvious day to move the trailer to our final destination. We had not managed to recce the Caley
marina on our visit the week before, so this trip was an unknown quantity. Little did we know that the
entrance to the Caley marina was a very tight hairpin bend with an old stone wall in the middle of the
bend that led onto a single-track road. Not an easy maneuver for a trailer and land rover. After a couple
of attempts, we decided to unhitch the trailer and push it along the 500 meters to the marina. Brian at
Caley marina met us on our arrival and could not have been more helpful he had a secure spot for our
trailer which was locked and safe plus a parking space for the Land rover. They also had a fantastic
chandler’s where we purchased our boat hook and tarpaulin at a knock down price. The three of us

headed back to Banavie with our goodies, 2 hours later we were back at the top of Neptune’s staircase
ready to row to Gairlochy, 5 miles along the canal. It had been a beautiful day but as we headed off for
our final row of the day the rain started, that wet rain that only the west highlands of Scotland can
provide. We waterproofed up and got on with it.


It was an amazing setting; parts of the row were like moving through a temperate rainforest with trees
right down to the banks of the canal enclosing the boat in green We would have enjoyed it more if we
had not been so tired and wet.


We arrived drookit at Gairlochy lock and moored the skiff on the canoe trail pontoons at the west side
of the Lock. We would go through into Loch Lochy in the morning. Our shore support thankfully picked
us up along with all our sodden gear and deposited us at the bed and breakfast in Spean Bridge, where
Rachel met us ready to row on day 2. We were extremely lucky as the hostess offered to dry all our gear
for the next day so we changed into dry clothes and headed out in search of food.

Day 2 Gairlochy to Laggan 10 nm
Rowers; Flan, Anne P, Liz, Barbara and Rachel
Shore support; Jan and Paddy
The Tuesday morning dawned grey and blustery. We were treated to a full cooked breakfast then
headed off early at 7:30am to get the maid ready for day 2. She required considerable drying out before
loading her for the day. It’s amazing how much water two small camping towels can sook up from a wet
boat, it’s also amazing how scarce the Flan can be when work is required! Once again the lock keeper
arrived early and was expecting us and while we got the boat ready he opened the lock. 4 of us (Anne
P, Rachel, Barbara and Liz), Flan still missing!!! Took her into the lock on oar then paddle power. This
time the lock keeper threw ropes down to us so we didn’t need to exit the boat at all.


Once through at 9am we moored up to the pontoons immediately outside the lock to pick up our
wayward skipper. Today was our first open water row on the canal with Loch Lochy making up 8.5 n
miles of the rowing. Unusually the wind was from the east so we hugged the south shore of the Loch.
Squally showers threatened mid-morning so we geared up and kept hugging the south shore making
steady progress.

A 15-minute stop at invergloy for a wee comfort break then on a further 4nm to the Corriegour Lodge
Hotel for a very civilized mid-day coffee and cake. Goodness only knows what the hotel staff thought
when 5 women of various sizes and ages complete with life jackets, wellies and soggy outfits arrived in
the wood panelled lounge of the hotel, however they were extremely welcoming and gave us a good
hour break to dry out, heat up, sugar up and freshen up! This would be our last stop of the day before
the locks at Laggan.

             

We had two locks to pass through before entering Loch Oich where we would moor for the night. As we
entered our last mile before the locks at 14:30 Flan radioed the lock keeper asking for passage
information. We could see a couple of motor cruisers and a yacht also heading for the locks so hopefully

our wait would be minimal. We were in luck! The locks were opening to let craft out going west along
the canal and there was no queue to go east so we were loaded in with assorted other craft and rafted
up to a motor cruiser skippered by a very helpful man from Rosemarkie who had helped to build skiffs
on the Black Isle. We had an uneventful transit through the two locks and were released from the
cruiser after being motored out of the lock. The weather had also cleared and it was a beautiful
afternoon.


We only had a small stretch of canal to row then under the Laggan swing bridge and into Loch Oich
mooring up at the pontoons next to the Great Glen water park where we would meet our new shore
support, Paddy, Flan’s sister. We also managed to find a few pints of lager numerous packets of crisps
while we waited for our lift to the Great Glen hostel at South Laggan. No restaurant tonight, we had to
self-cater, excellent pasta by Barbara with a few wee glasses of wine by the co-op before turning in to
our questing quines dorm.

Day 3 Loch Oich to Fort Augustus 7.5 nm
Rowers; Flan, Anne P, Liz, Barbara and Rachel
Shore support; Paddy
Wednesday morning was an absolute corker, beautifully still, calm morning. We were due to row over
the summit of the canal today on Loch Oich at 32.31 meters (106 feet) then start our decent to loch
Ness. Our first lock was not until Cullochy after Loch Oich a good 4 nm away. Even though we had no
early lock deadline we were all aware that we needed to get down the staircase at Fort Augustus that
afternoon so once again we got to the maid early before 8 to get her ready for that day’s row. No rain
this time but she still needed a heavy dew removed before we could kit her out for the day, travel
towels once again to the rescue and surprise surprise once again no Flan to help!! This kitting out boat
malarkey was obviously not for skippers!!


Loch Oich is a ribbon like, very shallow loch with a distinct shipping channel marked by port and
starboard buoys. While the draft of the skiff would allow us to row where other craft using the canal
cannot we decided to stick to the channel as directed by the skipper’s guide. This meant that we were in
close proximity to other craft giving the cox a bit more work than previous days. That morning row was
truly magical (Barbara!!) in bright sunshine, surrounded by dense forest with the occasional wrecked
boat and ruined castle.

With 3 hours of rowing we arrived at Cullochy lock. After our usual practice of starboard side mooring in
the lock, we were getting good at this, we descended our first lock going east. Once we exited the lock
we decided to have a brew up and a lunch stop at the pontoons on the east side of the lock.


A fortuitous chat with the lock keeper informed us that the staircase was badly backed up at Fort
Augustus due to two large pleasure craft which had come up the locks that morning. This meant there
was a long delay to get down into Loch Ness. We headed off to Kytra Lock discussing our options for
Fort Augustus. We passed through Kytra lock and gained gold stars, literally, from the Lock keeper,
Linda, for all wearing life jackets!!! And rowed on to learn our fate at FA.


Linda the bestower of Gold stars! Flan at last doing some work-
We passed two large pleasure craft used for adventure holidays and could see why they had caused
delays at Fort Augustus (FA) since they needed a lock each. The row to FA was through rolling highland
country with sheep and cattle pastures in hot, bright sunshine. When we arrived it was heaving with no
spare mooring. We managed to creep around the back of one of the pontoons out of the main traffic,
moor the skiff, start a brew up while Flan and Liz went to speak to the canal staff concerning our
descent into Loch Ness.

Fort Augustus was the busiest stop we had made and the staircase into Loch Ness was thronging with
tourists. There were 4 canal keepers working full out to get craft up and down the staircase as quickly as
they could. It was clear that there was a certain amount of chaos, it was also clear that the lock keepers
had been on all morning with no break. Once we introduced ourselves and explained what kind of craft
we had we were told that there was a queue and they didn’t know when we would get down that day.
We offered them a cup of tea or coffee as we could see they were exhausted. Once tea and coffee plus
chocolate biscuits were provided we were told we would be going down in the next batch! Hurrah!!
For the first time the lock keepers didn’t want us to stay in the boat while we went down the staircase.
We were asked to raft up to a motor cruiser and to our delight it was the guy from Rosemarkie who we
had rafted up to on the previous day at Laggan- So no worries we all knew what to do and he also gave
us a seat in his cruiser while we went down the staircase. The two boats rafted together were walked
down the staircase through locks by the cruiser’s skipper and Liz (since she can’t sit still!). The rest of the
crew enjoyed the sun from a luxury padded seat at the back of the cruiser. During our descent, we met
up with Isla who would take Rachel’s place for the next day’s rowing on Loch Ness.

Once you exit the last lock on the staircase there is a swing bridge to negotiate. All the other craft had
to wait till the bridge opens however we had more than sufficient head room to pass underneath. We
negociated with the lock keeper who finally agreed that we could leave the lock first and row under the
bridge. We took to the maid and with Anne P in cox position calling the commands and paddled out to
the middle of the lock, then on her command swung round in our seats, placed our oars in their thole
pins and to a round of applause by the crowds rowed under the bridge in perfect unison. This was a
fantastic end to a near perfect day of rowing.


We moored up at the pontoons at the east side of FA, Paddy had arrived to transport our gear to
Morag’s hostel and after cleaning up we went in search of food and drink.

Day 4 Fort Augustus to Drumnadrochit- 11.5 nm
Rowers; Flan, Anne P, Liz, Barbara and Isla
Shore support; Paddy, Maria
We said goodbye to Rachel and Paddy that morning and Isla joined us for the first part of the Loch Ness
row. Once again the usual suspects made the boat ready and the usual suspect was missing! We were
very relieved that the easterly wind that had been evident at the beginning of the week had gone, loch
Ness was like a mirror as we rowed out of Fort Augustus at 08:30 on a balmy Thursday morning.


We were kept entertained by Isla who had a story for every hamlet and ruin on the loch as we
proceeded up the north bank in an easterly direction at a good rate passing a group of Duke of
Edinburgh kayakers from Troon academy??
This was the first day that we had no locks to traverse so time was not pressing and we could just enjoy
each other’s company and the sights along Loch Ness. The rowing was easy as a slight westerly breeze
had started gently pushing us along to our destination. After a couple of hours, we scouted out a likely
spot to stop for a brew up. We spotted a spit of land created by a burn coming into the loch that already
had a sheltered fire pit for Anne’s invaluable stove. We landed the maid and secured her on the shingle
spit with the anchor and fenders (no tide to worry about and the wind was being kind).

      
However, as we brewed up and snacked the westerly wind began to pick up with white horses
appearing further out on the loch. We decided to get back on the water before conditions got any more
challenging for launching off the spit. Once again Anne P took the coxing position and Flan was in bow
to push us off with Liz in stroke to forcefully back us out off the beach. We fully discussed our maneuver
and then carried it out perfectly, we even managed to not leave Flan behind.
This was a whole different row now much more like what we are used to with coastal rowing we had a
brisk westerly wind which was pushing us along and a good wave frequency which we could easily surf
on if we shortened our stroke- Just as well Liz was in stroke since short is what she does!! Consequently,
we arrived at Urquhart castle and swung into Urquhart bay heading for our mooring at Drumnadrochit
well ahead of time at 13:00. We rowed down the west side of Urquhart bay to our mooring, a rather
ramshackle wooden pontoon used by kayakers. The draft was only 1-2 feet onto soft sand so we
shipped oars and exited the boat to tow her into the beach.

By 14:00 we were ready to undertake the 2-3 mile walk into Drumnadrochit to the hostel with all our
boat gear. All our other gear had been previously left at the hostel by the fantastic Paddy. We met up
with Mel and Maria for dinner that night as Mel would be rejoining us for the last day row.

Day 5 Drumnadrochit to Caley Marina 15 nm
Rowers; Flan, Anne P, Liz, Barbara and Mel
Shore support; Maria and Andrew
Our last day dawned clear and sunny with a slight westerly breeze- perfect conditions. Maria loaded her
car with all the boat gear, a couple of rowers and drove out to the skiff. The rest of us walked back to
the skiff to unload the car and make her ready for the day. Once again the Flan managed to arrive last
and missed all the work! We had planned for Maria to take pictures from Urquhart castle ramparts so
we waited until 9 am to launch off the pontoon and walk her around the westerly end of the bay until
we had sufficient draft to row.

         


We rowed up to the castle for our photoshoot including elevating two of our oars in salute! We then
headed off into the east for our last day together. This would be the longest row of the trip but after 4
days already in the skiff we were ready to go. We had the last third of loch Ness to cover then Loch
Dochfour where we took a detour around the wrecked wooden canal boats in the loch. We only had

one lock to go through today, our last, at Dochgarroch. We moored up at the pontoons west of the Lock
and met up with Maria, Andrew and Ian to have lunch in the sun. We then entered the lock rafting up to
a cruiser for the last time of our trip. Much dancing and celebration was had as we waited to exit the
lock and row to the Caley Marina.


Our last obstacle was the Tomnahurich swing bridge situated in the countryside just outside inverness.
We had passed under all the swing bridges on the canal with little adventure up to now and we radioed
the operator to explain the we were a St Ayles skiff and would just row under the bridge. This was
nearly our one big mistake as unbeknown to us the clearance under this particular bridge was very tight.
We had to duck down and run the bridge nearly losing our heads and an oar. We exited somewhat
shaken but unharmed with all oars and crew whole and accounted for. We only had a mile to go to the
Caley marina and our trips end.

We arrived to a welcome committee, fizzy wine and a multitude of helpers to get the boat ashore and
onto the trailer.

The people at Caley marina were wonderful, helping empty and lift the boat out of the water and onto
the trailer, they had even dried Liz’s wet trainers that she had left under the land rover!


We all set off home to Queensferry where the maid was put to bed having carried us in style for the last
5 days.

The end of the beginning………….
Conclusions are always difficult for this kind of log because this isn’t the end it is only the beginning of a
long journey that we will all have with skiff travels. We are already planning our next adventure!
As you can see if you read the personal reflections this was a hugely positive experience for all of us in
many ways.
It was clear from our interaction with both boaties and others as we travelled along the canal that skiffs
and Scottish coastal rowing has reached all corners of our country. Most people had heard of skiffs, if
never seen one, and many knew people involved with the skiff community. It was also obvious that it
skiff rowing was perceived as a good thing to do and we were asked by many individuals for advice on
how to get involved with their local club. As well as personal achievement, it was great to feel that we
could put something back into the skiff community by spreading the word and being good ambassadors
for our sport.
Finally, we would like to recommend that others make their own adventures (Barbara) there is a huge
skiffie world out there!
Luxury seats for the descent into Loch Ness on day 4

Appendix I Passage plan
14.06.2017 Anne Flannery
Passage Plan Caledonian Canal Expedition – Corpach to Inverness
West to East 50 nautical miles
Planning journey over 4 days but extra 2 days available if required. If weather with us the whole route is
straight forward if following the canal, NE from Corpach to Inverness staying close to north shore (see
map below).
Weather
The biggest single factor that may affect the journey. Prevailing winds are SW which would aid our
passage. At times the wind direction changes to easterly which may prevent us from being able to
proceed. The north shore would, with the prevailing SW, be the more sheltered.
We will be carrying IMRAY charts, inland waterways of Scotland, and Scottish canals skipper guide for
Caledonian canal, Great Glen canoe trail and OS maps 41, 26, 36
There are no major constraints on departure/ arrival times; delays are expected at locks and swing
bridges.
Risks identified include unloading and loading boat and trailer on slipways.
Sudden weather changes, particularly in Loch Lochy and Loch Ness, both of which are classified as open
water, with potentially 3m swells in Loch Ness.
Crew ill health and exposure based problems to both hot and cold weather. Protective clothing will be
carried on board as will food and water rations to last the day and emergency.
Crew safety briefing daily along with daily local weather checks/ forecasts including wind direction and
speed.
Coastguard based Inverness, Fort Augustus and Fort William with inshore RNLI at Drumnadrochit.
Equipment being taken
– non-racing anchor
– handheld VHF radio using Ch. 74 for approach to sea loch at Corpach and ch16 for routine passage
along the canal length
– 2 x 15 metre extra ropes for manoeuvring through locks
– usual bow and stern lines for mooring
– fenders for locks – 2 medium and 3 large and bow fender
– tarp for under fenders to protect hull for scratches during lock passage
– anchor and chain
– life jackets for all crew and one spare
– full set of clenshaw oars and 1 spare
– 4 paddles
– spare pegs (thole pins) + elastic bands + wax
– emergency flares
– bailers x 2
– sponges
– bilge pump
– first aid kit
– compass

– fog horn
– jack for trailer
– extra bungies
– grab bag
– bottle carriers
– copy of boat insurance
– adapter bar with cable
– all crew have mobiles and remote chargers
– boat hook (added later)
– tarpaulin (added later)
_______________________________________
Crew
Anne F
Anne P
Liz
Barbara
Mel / Rachel/ Isla
Shore support
Jan
Maria
Paddy
Andrew
VHF licence holders
Anne F, Anne P, Barbara, Mel
British Canoeing- navigation and tidal planning course
All crew members are experienced rowers and a couple are experienced coastal kayakers.
The skiff will be transported to Corpach from Ullapool and launched from Corpach and recovered from
the Caley marina.
Planned schedule; See map below
Day 1 The journey will begin through the Corpach sea lock and continue up through Neptune’s staircase
at Banavie. The skiff will either be walked through locks on long ropes or lashed to a yacht per Scottish
Canal guidance.
We intend to row onwards to Gairlochy on the first day mooring overnight east of Gairlochy lock and
swing bridge – approximately 6-7 nm. We are intending to use fenders and tarp to protect the boat
through the locks and 2 x ropes of 15 metres each to allow clearance and the maximum depth of the
lock chambers.
Day 2 (and 3) split this section. Gairlochy to Fort Augustus 18 miles (5-6 hours)
The prevailing wind tends to be SW so we will be going along the north shore. There are several
pontoons on the south shore going along Loch Lochy past Invergloy Point leading to Laggan Locks and
swing bridge.
31
Once through in to Loch Oich this is a short section with buoys marking the way to Aberchalder and the
swing bridge there. There is also an exit route during this stretch.
The approach to Fort Augustus has two locks prior to Fort Augustus itself with numerous pontoons
available. Mooring overnight at Fort Augustus.
Day 3/4 Fort Augustus to Drumnadrochit 12nm (3.5 to 4.5 hours)
We continue along the north shore of Loch Ness. There is an exit at Foyers on the south side of Loch
Ness if required, then round into Drumnadrochit harbour!!!!! Note chance of northerly wind funnelling
down Glen
Day 4/5 Drumnadrochit to Inverness 15nm (3.5-4.5 hrs + locks)
Again, keeping mainly to the north shoreline there are exit points to both shores. Loch Dochfour
navigation buoys mark the passage through the loch proceeding to Dochgarroch onto Inverness. exit
from the canal system will be at Caley Marina prior to the Muirton locks.
What are the exit points? Wind funnelling effect –where??
32
Appendix II Personal reflections of both crew
and shore support
Anne F (Flan) the skipper- rowed all days
Hi & low lights’
Low: dreich rain on afternoon of day one as I was worried that the sunshine of the morning was all a con
and the rain would follow us all the way for the week.
Low: the incident with the last bridge, we had become complacent, not good.
High: the departure from the last lock gate at FA we worked as one turning from paddles to loading oars
and hitting the timing immediately, also the spontaneous applause was just the icing.
High: the way we all pulled together as a crew getting off the shingle spit at Loch Ness, again showing
how we had all gelled together as a crew.
High: sighting the ‘beastie’ under Castle Urquhart, even if I was the only one to see it. It was there.
Anne P rowed all days and the tower
So, I reflected and initially nothing had anything to do with rowing.
‘Isla, you brought fruit!’ when Isla arrived for her shift.
Brewing up on a tiny stove on the canal side.
Coffee break in a swanky hotel, dripping over their carpets but met with smiles.
‘Rachel, what other food did you bring?’
Bacon rolls as we rose through Neptune’s staircase.
Anyone would think it was about our stomachs…
But those little moments of culinary delight punctuated a ‘magical’ trip (that one’s for you, Barbara).
Stand out moments were readying the boat in the early morning when everything else was still and
quiet.
Leaving the lock into Fort Augustus in perfect synchronicity to applause from onlookers, then leaving
Fort Augustus onto the perfect mirror of Loch Ness. Most of all it was just about the time spent rowing,
the simplicity of day after day, developing a rhythm and routine, the peace and privilege of traveling
through amazing country in the skiff.
‘It’s ruined me for regattas’ was a comment at the end and it certainly felt that way at the time. I’d do it
all again in a heartbeat.
Barbara rowed all days
My highs and lows
It was pretty much ALL highs!
Rowing every day for a week, especially along bits where there were no roads – out in nature, no motor
but our own muscles, surrounded by beauty.
Team spirit, camaraderie, call it what you will – for a curmudgeon like me this was an absolute highlight.
You guys, you’re the best!! (Sob.)
Meeting and co-operating with all those lovely sailors and lock-keepers along the way, Scotland at its
absolute shining best.
Afternoon tea at that hotel, a bit of luxury to make us feel special!
33
The only low I can think of is that one day it rained and we arrived at the hotel soaking wet. But even
that was soon overcome by a tumble drier and hot food.
Isla rowed day 4
No lows for the CC row although there might have been had I been there all week!! Sore bum blisters.
!
One bit I really liked although I wasn’t personally involved was you guys rowing out under the road
bridge at Ft Augustus. Paddling first then switching to rowing like professionals.
If the watching hoards hadn’t starting clapping I would have.
Loved the whole experience.
Thanks
Jan (shore support days 0-2)
Highs include: day out doing the reconnaissance run and not having to drive
Being part of an ambitious project and soaking up some of the positive enthusiasm of the rowers
Watching the first night row under the stars on calm black water
Bacon roll and coffee in sunshine on first morning
Photos of boat on Loch Ness
Lows – Midge attack
Typical poor quality Scottish accommodation
Leaving after the first few days
Liz rowed all days
The people, I can’t say it enough it was such a pleasure to row and spend time with this group of people.
I can’t think of a single poor personal interaction with anyone on the trip it was simple joy from start to
finish.
Ok so the boat was pretty special too, the idea that all we had to do was get up and row all day, the
sheer fun of rowing the skiff the way they were designed to be as passage boats and not racers was a
revelation.
I suppose Scotland was affy bonnie too, the sun helped but we were even smiling in the rain – drookit at
Gairlochy!
Biggest highs – applause at Fort Augustus, launching off the spit into Loch Ness in challenging conditions.
Sleeping in an on suite shed! Being able to share fender knots and laughing for days on end.
Maria (shore Support days 0-1, 4 and 5)
Highs:
1. Excluded from rowing due to incapacity I was still able to be involved in the adventure as shore
support, feeling very much part of the team.
2. I visited parts of glorious Scotland I would otherwise not have seen and from angles not attempted
I.e. the launching slip at Corpach in the dark with the crew rowing away into the night…The view from
Urquhart Castle Tower with “my boat” on the water, performing a perfect oar salute to the delight of
equally excited visitors next to me…how proud was I!!!
The boatyard at Inverness where the Maid was gracefully landed onto the slip identified by shore
support, who had kept the Prosecco cool in the Inver water…
3. The kindness of the canal staff and fellow canal users…including the homeopathic doctor I had not
seen for at least 15 years and who kindly proceeded to “piggy back” the Maid” onto his yacht (Candy)
through a series of locks…
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4. The superb help from the yard staff in getting the Maid from the water with their dinky tractor, and
loaded onto the trailer in Inverness, when all were tired…
Lows:
1. Mobile network cover sometimes poor which could make communication with the skiff sometimes
unreliable.
2. It felt sometimes a bit like a treasure hunt…I was grateful for the navigation system in the car, but
could have done with a more detailed map.
3. Difficult to predict estimated time of arrival on shore and hence to make reservations for
dinner…would be handy to have a list of eateries and tel numbers to book a.s.a.p.
Mel rowed day 0-1 and day 5
The methodical preparation of the trip avoided wasted time and potential hazards.
There was great camaraderie with other boat users at the locks. Throughout the trip the interaction
with other canal users and the general public was very positive, we were often applauded and Ferry
Maid will have featured in many people’s holiday snaps.
Our invaluable onshore support synchronised extremely well with the rowers, especially when we
arrived drenched and whisked us away to our next accommodation and welcome hot showers.
The group were very accommodating allowing me to participate on 2 single days making me feel part of
the team.
Rachel D rowed days 2 and 3
I think highlights for me were having some proper food and a cup of coffee. Oops, no, I mean……
That lovely little bar at Laggan locks. Oops, no, I mean
Watching someone eat muesli with water. Oops, no, I mean
2 days solid of your company. Oops, no, I mean……
Has to be emerging out of Fort Augustus, paddle to oar switch, perfectly timed and co-ordinated by
Anne P to applause and sunshine.
The sight of the maid in the early morning sunshine at Laggan, and setting her up for the day.
Hard to pick the highlights really, just a wonderful sense of purpose and team, travelling peacefully and
calmly through the beautiful country. learning about the locks and the canals and the interest and
variety of the people we met. I have had loads of great adventures this summer but this one is definitely
up there with the best of them. My only regret is I couldn’t do the whole thing.

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2018 Northern Events for Coastal Rowers

Shieldaig Regatta Start

 

We look forward to meeting you all in the rowing year ahead.   With our still expanding number of clubs we need more new events so that all the new St Ayles skiffs get used and our new community clubs have the opportunity to race.   If you can build a skiff, you are capable of running a good event for others who have built a skiff!

Although we have a range of competitveness within our communities, there are events for all to enjoy, and taking part in local regattas is very positive for all clubs, as it gets efficient use out of the boats that so much effort has been put into creating.  Thirty or more rowers can use one club boat in the course of a days racing, and it is an excellent way to bring on rowers new to your club and give them a focus and a target to work towards.

Boats Returning after a race at Coigach from buieboat website

So lets celebrate all the events that clubs are putting on…..what do we have coming up in 2018…………?  Check the 2018 Events Tab for a list of what is available (and please be sure to e mail Sue with your own event dates as soon as they are set.)  2018 sees the welcome return of excellent venues to the calendar, as well as some brand new regattas making their first appearance.

Among the brand new events we have a regatta at Cromarty, jointly hosted with Avoch.  This event on 16/17 June is part of the Northern Circuit of the SCRA Youth regatta series.  However there will be events for the main adult categories too.  Hopefully all the Western Isles skiffs, along with some mainland travellers,  will turn out for the brand new Uist Coastal Rowing Club Regatta on 25 and 26 May.  These events join others in the North and already in the calendar at Ullapool (6-8 July), Shawbost (12-14 July) and  Shieldaig (11 August).  There must surely be other Coastal Rowing clubs in the North planning events…..  please get them into the calendar ASAP, so your neighbours can do there planning!  Details on the 2018 tab.

Moving over to the North East another cradle of Scottish Coastal Rowing is the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy which takes place on 30 June and 1 July.  This is quite a big gathering of skiffs (usually around 18 skiffs) hosted by Portsoy Coastal Rowing Club, but part of a large festival with up to 20,000 spectators over the weekend, so worth looking your best.  It is usually real coastal rowing too, properly held in three dimensions.
In Argyll, Seil have already put the word about for their annual muster in Loch Melfort, an invitation event for other Argyll clubs.  The venue is somewhere that most local skiffs should be able to row to from their bases, and share enthusiasm and knowledge when they get there.

Ullapool Regatta (from UCRC website)

Thank you to all the clubs that have got events up and running, and got them into the calendar. Good luck to all for the year ahead.  Posts on events further south to follow.

 

 

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Happy New Skiffs 2018

As we see out the old year, we can all be excited at looking ahead to a New Year, with continued growth in the St Ayles skiff class worldwide.  Many will be looking forward to launching a skiff, either the first in their community, with the excitement of building a club and getting their community out rowing for the first time, or perhaps a second or third skiff to help grow their club.  Good luck to you all and best wishes for getting on the water.  Please do let us know your launch plans, so that we can share them with the whole community.

Lossiemouth

Stranraer

Lossiemouth

Isleford

 

Photos from club facebook pages.

 

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Castle to Crane Race Date: 15 September 2018

We are delighted to be able to report that the Castle to Crane Race will return on 15 September 2018.  The race took place for the first time in 2017 where more than 400 crew members took to 74 coastal rowing boats, including Yoals from Shetland, Skiffs from Scotland, a gig from England, Curraghs from Ireland, a Hebridean Birlinn, and skiffs from Northern Ireland and the Netherlands, raced the 13 mile course from Dumbarton to Glasgow City Centre.

It is by a long way the biggest open water rowing race ever to have been held in Scotland.  The feedback from those who took part in 2017 was overwhelmingly in favour of recommending the race to others………..  so we very much hope to welcome some new faces and boats to the Clyde in 2018, as well as welcoming back many of those who want to have another go at the challenging and historic course.

Make sure this is one of your must do races for 2018, and that it goes into your diary now!

Assistant Cox, Isle of Seil. credit: Allan Robertson

 

Shetland Yoal by Daren Borzynski

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Carrow Cup Defines December in Norwich

It is perhaps surprising that there is still a great deal of rowing to be done, even when the evenings are approaching their blackest.  However December 9th 2017 saw events organised and attended by St Ayles skiffs at Strangford in Northern Ireland, Altena in the Netherlands and in Norwich, England,  showing the international nature of rowing in St Ayles skiffs.  The sprint event due to take place at Lochcarron was postponed due to snow, but will be rearranged for the new year.

The Carrow Cup is one of the oldest rowing trophies in existence and crews have been racing for the cup since the early 1800s.  Racing for the cup is by invitation from Norwich Rowing Club.  There are three races (or “divisions”)  over a city centre river course, two for sliding seat craft, and one for traditional fixed seat craft with no outriggers.

The Carrow Cup was won by a Norwich crew in a coxed four.  The Bi-centernary Bowl for the fastest fixed seat boat on handicap was  awarded to a crew from Dartmouth.

The local derby between Blakeney and King’s Lynn in their St Ayles Skiffs was won by Blakeney, but King’s Lynn had a deserved place on the podium for their Christmas Fairy costumes.  Perhaps rowing in wings was not an advantage.

One of the Blakeney crews before the start (photo: Alan, Blakeney)

 

Kings Lynn before the start: photo Norfolk Skiff Club

A North Berwick crew in an Eton Skiff, kindly lent to them by the Norfolk Skiff Club, came second overall in the fixed seat division.  Other fixed seat boats in the race included Hanningfield Hybrid Gigs from Lower Thames Rowing Club, a Seax Gig crewed by an excellent young crew from Southend, and of course the magnificent  and elegant 26 foot long Thames Skiff “Cherub” beautifully rowed by the Norfolk Skiff Club.   Over 100 years old and still going strong.

Full report and results on the Norfolk Skiff Club Blog

A big thank you to Adrian Hodge for organising the Fixed seat division and to Kathryn Trehane and Norwich Rowing Club for inviting us.

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Serious Request row in the Netherlands

At dawn on the 9th of December 30 rowers from Ireland and Scotland joined 70 local rowers at the picturesque town of Woudrichem in the Netherlands. The purpose was a charity row of 45 miles in five skiffs, around an area called Altena.

 

The spare crews boarded a well equipped party boat, and were able to watch others rowing in the snow, hail, rain and sun while enjoying central heating, coffee and tea, pea soup, and later on a bar. The first part of the row was into the wind down the main river leading out of the Rhine, with enormous barges whizzing past and leaving big wakes.

 

Then we turned into a lock and entered a marshy area with lots of channels called the Beisbosch. Two RIBs changed crews every hour and the scenery went past quite quickly. By the end we were in darkness, but the final crews had one more job, to row with flaming torches to the historical harbour where the barges were lit up and music was playing while people warmed up with hot chocolate and spiced wine.

 

Back to the clubhouse via the winter market, we enjoyed a drink and a barbecue with the Woudrichem club, and then tottered off to the beds hospitably supplied by our kind hosts. Most of the UK contingent were due to fly out on Sunday but snow closed both Eindhoven and Amsterdam airports so many stayed overnight at airport hotels. Because so many travellers were snowbound, the last of the Scots reached home on Wednesday!

WSV Woudrichem are fantastic at organising a party it has to be said, and the row raised 3500 Euros for a very worthy Red Cross fund. Despite our long travels we salute their hospitality and hope to see them over in Scotland soon.

 

Topher Dawson.

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SCRA Merchandise – a Great Christmas Pressie

Get your SCRA t-shirt, hoodie, polo shirt or cap/beanie now and be a part of the SCRA Rowing Family. Just click on our

Online Shop

 

 

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