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Work is well underway on the construction of Argyll’s latest coastal rowing boat, now that the coronavirus advice permits limited team work.
The hull of the Upper Loch Fyne Coastal Rowing Club’s skiff is emerging rapidly in the old milking parlour of Glenshellish farm, Glenbranter.
A team of volunteers led by Neil Wilson is assembling the boat, which comes in kit form but requires additional parts to be made. Volunteer helpers including Patrick Gibb from Strachur, Martyn and Robin Webster, Terry Muirhead-Smith and Derek Anstee of Inveraray.
Early October is expected to see a big event – the 22-foot hull finally turned right way up, marking the half-way point in its construction.
The wooden sections came largely pre-cut and shaped by Jordan Boats of Somerset, ready to be assembled locally around a ‘hog’ template using woodworking tools and an epoxy binder. With the main build phase over, she next requires seats and gunwales, not to mention a paint job and a set of oars.
When complete the skiff will likely be launched at Strachur. It is to be crewed by a team of four rowers and a coxswain.
The boat will be named ‘Mrs McPhun’ after the Strachur woman who thought she was widowed by the hanging of her husband Archie McPhun for murder at Inveraray. As Mrs McPhun, their child and the body were being rowed back to Strachur for burial, Archie’s ‘corpse’ groaned, and he was resuscitated. He lived on for some years, albeit with a crooked neck!
In recognition of the expected funeral that happily never happened, the skiff will be painted black.
The Upper Loch Fyne Coastal Rowing Club was set up in Inveraray two years ago with the aim of building and operating a St Ayles skiff on the upper reaches of the loch.
The club is a member of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA), which encourages boat building, rowing and racing of coastal rowing boats around the Scottish Coastline. Most follow the design of the St Ayles skiff, which emerged in Anstruther based on the traditional Fair Isle skiff, and the Scottish community rowing regattas that were traditionally popular.
The kit-built boat greatly reduces the cost to a community and, as they are a standard design, they can be fairly raced in rowing against one another. It quickly became a remarkable success, attracting worldwide attention and creating its own boating class association, St Ayles Skiff International (SASI). There are now over 200 St Ayles skiffs operating around Scotland’s coast and abroad, including over a dozen in Argyll and others in the Netherlands, USA and Australia.
The SCRA now has over 70 member clubs around the Scottish Coast and on large freshwater lochs.
The Upper Loch Fyne Coastal Rowing Club, which aims to promote community spirit, learning and purposeful activity for young and old, is open to new members – to help maintain the boat, and potential rowers and navigators keen to learn nautical skills.
For further information about the rowing club please contact Martyn Webster at firstname.lastname@example.org .
For club membership or purchasing a share in the boat please contact Terry Muirhead-Smith at email@example.com .
Neil Wilson at work on the keel, watched by Robin Webster. no-a40_LochFyneSkiff03