Loch Fyne skiff nearing completion in Glenbranter

With the skiff turned the 'right way up', volunteers continue to work on the hull.

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Work on Upper Loch Fyne Coastal Rowing Club’s skiff at Glenshellish Farm, Glenbranter, has been temporarily halted by coronavirus restrictions, but the boat is now at an advanced stage.

Housed inside a former milking parlour, the hull has been turned right way up, with the cross beams installed and breast hooks fitted at the bow and stern.

The outer gunwale is attached and has been sanded down by the team of volunteers led by Neil Wilson.

They plan to resume work on the final finishes to the hull, painting and making the oars, as soon as restrictions are lifted.

The wooden sections came largely pre-cut and shaped by Jordan Boats of Somerset, ready to be assembled around a ‘hog’ template using woodworking tools and an epoxy binder.

Once complete, the skiff will be crewed by a team of four rowers and a coxswain.

The kit design greatly reduces the cost to a community and, as they are a standard design, they can be fairly raced against one another.

The Upper Loch Fyne Coastal Rowing Club was set up in Inveraray in 2019 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.

There are now more than 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 has over 70 member clubs around the Scottish Coast and on large freshwater lochs.

The Loch Fyne skiff has been provisionally named ‘Mrs MacPhun’ after the widow of Mid Argyll legend ‘Half-hung Archie’.

Archie McPhun, who resided at Dreip, near Glenbranter, was hanged 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.

The vessel’s launch date and a permanent home in northern Loch Fyne are now being debated by the team.

Contact Martyn Webster (martyn@martynwebster.com) or Derrick Anstee (deanstee@hotmail.co.uk) for more information on the club.