Launching places for the skiff

With  the skiff about to metamorphose from  a project in a shed into a community asset there are a few practical issues to consider, not the least of which is where the boat can be launched.

When the Anstruther skiff came to visit they launched at Balvicar Boatyard, and in many ways this is the best and easiest option, particularly for visiting crews and boats. However, Seil is an island of two coasts, separated by the  potentially troublesome waters of  Cuan Sound. If people  want to be able to use the boat  regularly on the West side of the island – which is I suppose up to the rowers – it would be useful to have a place to launch on the West side.

Some of us had already discussed Ellenabeich and pretty much written it off because the slipway was too narrow and the launching spot in the SE corner of the wee harbour is too rocky with no vehicular access. The skiff is an unusual boat though, with a maximum beam of just 5ft 8 ins and is remarkably light for a 22ft boat.

With that in mind I went over to Ellenabeich to measure the slip. It is 6ft 5″ wide at the very top and a minimum of 6ft 6in wide for the remainder of its length. The metal mooring rings aren’t much of an obstruction, and it  seems to me that with the right trailer or a dedicated launching trolley and a few fenders this would be eminently manageable and would allow crew or passengers to embark dry shod.

The other advantage of the pier at Ellenabeich is that it is one of the few places on Seil where the public have easy access to the shoreline. For open days, regattas etc this would be a big bonus, though it is likely that the Bay and the Sound on the East side would still be the favourites for all-weather racing or training.

These are just one person’s thoughts on the subject. If anyone else has any thoughts or  ideas please leave a comment.

3 thoughts on “Launching places for the skiff

  • March 11, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I’ve had a chance to think about the implications of going for Ellenabeich and there’s no doubt at all that if we can do it safely the event will be much better there – a great place for spectators with nice facilities, food and drink close by and lots of visitors passing through.

    We’ve got a good chance of nice weather in early June, but we can easily have an emergency plan for Balvicar just in case.

    • March 11, 2013 at 11:14 am

      For the event there will be plenty of hands around, and it may be possible to carry the boat over the stones. As a general guide 5 men can lift the boat on and off a road trailer, but you will want a few more folk about for carrying a boat over an uneven surface. At Coigach Regatta the boats are taken over a boulder beach before reaching a sandy section.

      Remember that for an event it is not just about launching the boat once, it is also about finding a place where crews can swap over between races.

      I think you would be able to launch and recover on the slip if you chose to. Royal West launch and recover from a similar sized slip, although theirs does have wooden battens to make the boats slide more easily. Royal West do not use trolleys for that part of the process (and have a bit of beach for swapping crews after the boats are launched).

      I am sure that Coigach and Royal West would be happy to share their experience if asked.


  • March 11, 2013 at 9:45 am

    I got the following e-mail from George Houston yesterday – he asked me to put it on the site if I thought it was helpful, as he is not keen on this new-fangled technology
    I have seen lots of small boats launched off the stoney beach in Ellenabeich harbour. It does not seem to be a problem provided the wheels are not too small. A 4×4 helps.

    I have also launched an inflatable from a small trolley down the “ferry slip”. It is OK, except at spring low tides, when there are exposed steps at the end.

    Hope this is helpful.


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