The Coastal Rowing Project, WoodenBoat’s Boatbuilding & Rowing Challenge and the Traditional Small Craft Association...
It has been a year since the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association assembled on the beach at Anstruther Harbour to witness the launch of the prototype St Ayles Skiff.
Whole communities have become involved in building new boats to be rowed. Members of those communities also became involved, many for the first time, in using the sea for fitness, friendship and competition.
In the first season of boat building and regattas around the Scottish coast hundreds of people new to these activities enjoyed the teamwork required to build and race hand built skiffs.
The design chosen for this project was the St Ayles Skiff, commissioned from Iain Oughtred by the Scottish Fisheries Museum at Anstruther, Fife.
Jordan Boats, also in Scotland, made a “one design” kit.
Who would have guessed that the prototype splash only a year ago would promote such a brilliant journey? All credit due to the enthusiastic people who have become involved.
The project has been a remarkable success, with more than thirty boats either in use or being built in Scotland. The Coastal Rowing Project has now attracted worldwide attention. In addition to enquiries from Australia and Europe, the building of the St Ayles Skiff has now migrated to Maine.
Carl Cramer, publisher of internationally renowned Woodenboat Magazine, announced details recently of the newest effort to stimulate boat building and rowing skills among Maine high school students. The boat chosen for this program is the 22-foot St. Ayles Skiff, which has a crew of five people, four rowers and a cox. The program is billed as the Boat Building and Rowing Challenge or BARC.
WoodenBoat has donated one boat kit each to the programs from Deer Isle – Stonington High School and Sumner High School.
Hewes & Company of Blue Hill, Maine, the company that produces the kits, is donating one to the program at George Stevens Academy.
A representative from The Landing School will visit each group of Maine high school students to offer educational guidance and encouragement
Thus begins the St Ayles skiff project in the US.
I had a conversation with Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats recently about how this project has grown and he leaves the distinct impression that, though he is rightfully pleased about these developments, he would prefer the emphasis be more family oriented.
Alec sees the St Ayles Project as having no age barriers. I agree and submit that the success of the project in Scotland has much to say about the commitment of a full community and a sense of camaraderie developed from friendly sportsman-like competition.
This is the provenance of the Traditional Small Boat Association. The TSCA probably has the greatest concentration of wood boat building and traditional boat handling expertise in the country. If someone needs advice on anything concerning wood boat building or traditional boat handling, where better to look than the TSCA? The TSCA should support this project and facilitate the development of new community building efforts through building the St Ayles skiff nation-wide. The sense of community comes not only from local efforts but also from identification with a global project.
I congratulate Carl and WoodenBoat for bringing this project across the Atlantic and encourage the Traditional Small Craft Association Chapters to facilitate its development from coast to coast.
As the current President of the Traditional Small Craft Association I would like to invite anyone interested in this project for their community or schools please contact me here at Doryman, in the comments below.
Image of the Ulla Skiff and crew courtesy of the superlative Chris Perkins -- thank you brother!
Image of Iain Oughtred critiquing his creation by Charlie Hussey.