Peter Baylis’s photos of Scoter in her prime

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Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter

Scoter in Norway, July 1962.  Colin Grierson has his foot on the tiller. Audry Grierson is bending down amidships. The guard rail of Peter Baylis’ boat Phakoe is just visible in the foreground

Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter

Scoter in Norway again, July 1962. The boy standing behind Audry is not her son Douglas, but Peter doesn’t remember his name

Peter Baylis has kindly sent us a collection of photographs of Scoter and the Grierson family and friends during the 1950s and ’60s. A family friend himself, he says he was much saddened to see the state she has been reduced to, but pleased to learn she is to be restored. (See the original post on Scoter here.)

Here’s what he has to say about Scoter’s story during the time he knew her:

Colin Grierson was a neigbour of mine both in Wormit and Tayport Harbour where my mooring was alongside Scoter. After Colin died, Scoter was taken on by his son, Douglas for a few years until he sold her to I know not who.

‘Colin converted Scoter for offshore sailing and had many cruises with his family to Holland and Norway. It fell to my lot on many occasions, to help Colin load and unload the many tons of pig iron ballast Scoter had.’

Peter, who owned Phakoe and Ceildh of Fife in these photos, is particularly interested to learn about the whereabouts and history of Ceilidh of Fife – if anyone knows her story, please contact me at and I will pass the information on to Peter.

Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter

(Left) Low tide in Tayport Harbour. The yachts float on very soft mud. The boat in the centre is Ceilidh of Fife, the boat Peter had after Phakoe. The stern of Scoter is lower left. (Centre) Scoter on her moorings at Tayport. The varnished boat is Phakoe. Lower left the stern of Seagrim is just visible; she’s the boat Hazel and Brian Kelly owned before they commissioned Idle Duck. (Right) Damaged slide of Tayport Harbour moorings. The varnished boat is Phakoe with Scoter next and then Seagrim. The photo was taken during the late 1950s; Peter says the harbour now is full of expensive looking yachts on pontoons

Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter

(Left) This picture shows Colin Grierson, owner of Scoter, watching the first launch of Peter’s Alan Buchanan-designed yacht Ceilidh of Fife in June 1966. (Centre) First launch of Ceilidh of Fife from Woodhaven pier near Wormit, Fife. Colin is holding the port fore guide rope. Scoter is in the centre of the picture dressed overall. June 1966. (Right) Ceilidh of Fife dressed overall on the occasion of the opening of the Tay Road Bridge by the Queen Mother, August 18 1966. The bridge can be seen in the background

(Left)Peter’s first yacht Phakoe, 1961. Picture taken in the River Tay after returning from Norway: note the yellow flag to request Customs clearance. (Right) His second yacht Ceilidh of Fife alongside in Mandal, Southern Norway. The green boat is Seagrim, the yacht owned by Hazel & Brian Kelly prior to owning the Maurice Griffths-designed yacht Idle Duck. Brian Kelly acquired Seagrim from the Kiel Yacht Club, Kiel, Germany at the end of World War II

PS Check out the comments below for more information on this photos, and about Scoter herself.


Weel may the keel row

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‘Nearly oval’ lighters on the riverbank at Newburn on the Tyne, image from Samuel Smiles’ book Lives of the Engineers, republished by Project Gutenberg. They’re a bit small to carry 20 tons of coal, but they might well be an artist’s slightly fanciful depiction of the keel

An outstanding recording of the tune known as the Keel Row popped up on my Facebook page the other day, and got me thinking about the keels of the River Tyne. The tune was played on an English concertina by a young man called Danny Chapman and must not be missed: hear it here.  You’ll notice that apart from the beautiful statement of the theme, in the way that’s traditional in the North East of England, there is a following series of stunning variations. There’s more of this stuff on this page. Well done Danny!

But what’s a Tyne keel? Believe it or not, it was an Anglo-Saxon boat type that lasted into the 20th century, though there are none around now and precious few pictures seem to exist. Still, there’s a nice history including the words of the song the Keel Row here. Jim Shead has a little more on the keel here, and the Samuel Smiles book has more to say about how the boats were used.

Finally, there’s a series of photos telling the story of the Keelman’s Hospital here. It’s a grand tale that demonstrates the independence and grit shown by the keelmen in the face of the ruthlessly capitalist coal owners, who seem to have been everyone’s enemy for centuries.

Water Craft magazine for March-April 2010 will be out very soon!

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The latest Water Craft will be with us any day

It’s almost time for the next edition of Water Craft magazine to land on our doormats – so what’s in store this time around? Lots of boating goodies as usual – including the first of two big features by our friend Ben Crawshaw in which he reports on his adventures sailing his Light Trow named Onawind Blue. That feels like a real privilege, I must say, even though I’d prefer to seem my design used for rather less extreme adventures…

Here’s what Water Craft editor Pete Greenfield has to say about the upcoming issue:

So – how has boat craftsmanship, amateur and professional, fared through the long hard winter and the much longer and harder recession? In W80, we seem to have some of the answers.

Interestingly, for many professional wooden boat builders, the answer seems to be they are managing rather nicely thank you… though mostly with repairs rather than new builds.

At Peter Freebody & Co, for example, spiritual home of so many traditional Thames craft, Melanie Freebody tells Kathy Mansfield there may be snow on the roof but the boatshops beneath have rarely been busier.

Giving up the well-paid but stressful job in IT to learn to build wooden boats is a good idea for some. Certainly, on a dark dank morning in December when the students of 2009 launched the fascinating variety of craft they’d built at the Boat Building Academy at Lyme Regis, our Dick Phillips detected little stress… though maybe the champagne helped.

No nerves on the part of our tame amateur boatbuilder Peter Goad either, when Messrs Phillips and Chesworth turned up to sail the Cape Henry 21. Perhaps, as Peter explains in his final fit-out article, a five-year project encourages a relaxed and patient frame of mind.

Watch, on, Ben Crawshaw’s reports on sailing a small boat in the Med and you’ll see rather more evident anxiety. And reading about how he built his first boat, a slender lugger called a Light Trow intended for more sedate waters, in a public garden in Spain, you’ll encounter few manyana moments.

More sail than oar but definitely a craft to cope with exhilarating sea sailing, we think Paul Gartside’s free plans, complete with lines and offsets, for his 20ft (6m) lugger will persuade many a putative backyard boatbuilder to stop saying manyana and take the plunge.

As may the editor’s outdoor boat….

But outdoors, as Colin Henwood of Henwood & Dean Boatbuilders explains in his masterclass on painting and varnishing is not the ideal place to give your boat the finest finish for the new season. You need a big tent, kind-of like Water Craft itself.

Buy a subscription now (see the link in our right-hand column here at and pay with your credit card via PayPal) or find the March-April Water Craft in your local newsagents – to find a stockist in the UK see

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