Convivial construction in Achnamara as skiff takes shape

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Construction work began in October 2018 inside a former Forestry Commission shed.

As their boat takes shape, volunteers at the Achnamara skiff project are happily working away, finding time wherever they can to contribute to the effort.

The St Ayles skiff was purchased as a kit, thanks to lottery funding and money raised locally. People in Achnamara decided to join the growing number of communities getting involved in building a community boat through the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA), which encourages boat building and rowing and racing of coastal rowing boats around the Scottish coastline.

The principle is that the boats should be available at as low a price as possible, with the estimated cost of completion being around £3,500 according t0 the SCRA.

The skiff – with the St Ayles name coming from the former chapel which now forms the entrance to the Scottish Fisheries Museum – is 22 feet in length, with a beam of 5’8″.  The standard crew is four rowers and a coxswain.

A hard core of nine to 10 regulars from the Achnamara area, with help from others as available, have been beavering away on their as-yet-nameless skiff. Her name may not yet be known, but she will carry the number UK234, offering a clue as to the number of similar boats already built.

Volunteers from the district work for a couple of hours on a Wednesday and Saturday in the shed beside the village hall, and there is a bonus for the Saturday shift when the regular Cafe Connect meets next door, offering hot drinks and home baking for the hungry boatbuilders.

One volunteer said: ‘We don’t have a target completion date, because if you have a target you just get yourself in a fankle.’

Judging by the convivial atmosphere in the shed as the lads worked, it could be a wee while before elegant skiff number UK234 slips into Loch Sween, but that very community effort, after all, is largely the point of the whole project.