Category Archives: Rowing boat

The Great Big Cornish Gig Project

Great Big Cornish Gig Project

A group of wounded war veterans have built a Cornish pilot gig named Valiant in the National Maritime Museum Cornwall’s workshops at Falmouth, and a few days ago set out on an ambitious row to the Scillies.

The project is supported by National Maritime Museum Cornwall and military charities including the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant scheme and Help For Heroes. It was originally an idea developed by Mike Selwood and Andy Wyke NMMC, and the build was led by boat builder Andrew Nancarrow.

Along the way, the team of veterans have trained in boatbuilding skills, build a gig, learned to row and will compete in the 2016 World Pilot Gig Championships.

The project doesn’t have its own website, but there’s this page at the NMMC website and a few bits and pieces on the NMMC Twitter account – and this Facebook  page, which looks as if it will likely be the best source of information on their progress, though time will tell.

For more posts about Cornish pilot gigs, click here.

Restoring an 1880s bateau designed by a steamboat captain


I’d say it looks like a serious challenge, so great good luck to them!

The bateau was designed by steamboat Captain Thomas P Leathers of Kentucky, who is remembered for taking part in a race against the steamboat Robert E Lee in 1870.

Barbashela was a gift to Varina Anne ‘Winnie’ Davis of Biloxi, Mississippi, and the skiff was rowed on Oyster Bayou.

The plan is that the restored boat will be returned to the bayous in the Biloxi area.

My thanks to Brian Anderson for spotting this one.


Lake Titicaca: small boats and floating islands made of reeds

My old mate Ian Wright kindly sent me this collection of photos from Lake Titicaca. here’s what he says:

‘The traditional reed boats are presumably made on the islands, for that is what the floating islands are also made from – reeds. The wooden boats are probably made on the shore somewhere. There is quite a significant town there on the Peruvian side.

‘The boats are used as the primary means of transport on the islands – there is no way of getting to the shore other than by water.

‘I was struck by the similarity between the traditional craft and Heyerdal’s Ra and Ra II vessels, although they were considerably larger.

‘Lake Titicaca is shared between Peru and Bolivia – the border runs through the middle. As well as being the highest regularly navigated waterway in the world, it is also the deepest. At the time I was there they had not reached the bottom!’

Thanks for the shots Orv, me old mucker!

Read more about Lake Titicaca, the astonishing Uros people and their reed boats and islands here. Read about Thor Heyerdahl’s 1969 and 1970 Ra expeditions here.

I must say love Heyerdahl’s scheme to select crews of great diversity in race, nationality, religion and political viewpoint in order to demonstrate that people could cooperate and live peacefully – it’s something to remember at a time when politics everywhere seems to be more polarised, dirty and vicious than it has ever been.