Just after Hogmanay phones started ringing on the shores of Seil Sound as recovering residents tried to find out exactly what had just passed their windows. Those of us in the know were able to tell them that the long double-ended boat now speeding under the bridge at Clachan Seil was Chris o’Kanaird enjoying his first trip of 2013. He (she?) had come over from Anstruther for the holidays.
The long-awaited Kilmelford Rowing Club has now been formed and hope to start on their kit later this month. Babs and Alan kindly brought Chris round to Loch Melfort today and the weather allowed some of the team to get out on the water. We had a good few circuits of the top end of Loch na Cille and got a nice introduction to skiffing.
Personally the thing that struck me most was finding how little resistance there is as the skiff gathers speed. There was probably less effort involved than in sculling about in a much smaller dinghy. One minute we were at the edge of the moorings, the next right up at the head of the loch, so fast that the photograph Iain B took of us is a wee bit blurred.
I’ve been left mad keen to get our own skiff on the water and slightly frustrated that we haven’t managed to get our remaining wood machined yet, so it will be another week before construction resumes.
We’ve reached an interesting stage with our new skiff, having completed the kit and got the nasty work of cleaning the inside and filling seams almost done. This Sunday there’s very little to do apart from some finishing off, pending delivery of more wood.
Up till now there’s been no real opportunity for the Woodies of Seil to show off their skills, as it’s largely been gluing by numbers with everything dictated by the Sage of Bernisdale and the Kitman of East Wemyss. We’ve resisted the temptation to improve on perfection, even when tempted by the Guru of An Cala. We’ve been told that St Ayles skiffs don’t do rocker.
Now it’s time for a little creativity and artistry. On Monday we should be receiving a load of Douglas Fir supplied by the Wizards of Jamestown and brought to us by the (not so) Speedy Blue Men of Oban. There will be enough to produce the inwales (wooden rails inside the top planks) thwarts (seats) breasthooks (the pieces that hold the ends of the hull together when you hit things) and a set of six oars to get us started.
We’ll need to start by machining our timber, to bring the large pieces down to size for the various parts and there will be lots of dust flying around. We’re going to bring along a couple of power saws to speed things along.
It’s worth bringing along a suitable face mask and safety glasses.
Once we get into the swing of the next stage there will be lots for everyone to do, plenty of planing, sanding and a bit less gluing than up till now. There are lots of different ways of making the parts we need and of course no consensus about what’s best , so it will be an interesting learning experience for everyone. After all, that and the good community feeling are what this project is all about.
Almost every week we see a new face in the shed and it will be great to see even more of the Skiffies of Seil turning up. Don’t forget, it’s not necessary to buy a share in order to take part and, anyway, they’re all sold now.
I’ve pinched this image from a great new blog started by the well-known archivist and historian Iain MacAllister, which you can access here:- http://www.peggybawn.wordpress.com
It’s got me thinking that in addition to selecting a colour scheme we need to consider designs for our teeshirts and settle thorny issues such as whether or not our crews should wear tammies, like these fine fellows on the Clyde. We should also have a nice ensign and will need to decide on which end to put the staff. Most have it on the stern, but here is a precedent for the bow.
This is a great way for people with artistic and graphic skills to come aboard the project.
Incidentally the rowing seems to be a version of randan, where a middle fellow sculls with two oars while bow and stern have one each. Here there are two middle men rowing side by side.
It all goes to show we’re doing nothing new in coastal rowing.