Peter Baylis’s photos of Scoter in her prime

[ad name=”intheboatshed-post”]

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

[ad name=”intheboatshed-post”]

‘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.

The incomplete tale of a Norfolk racing launch

[ad name=”intheboatshed-post”]

Rocinante at Reedham

Keith Johnston has kindly written in with some photos and the story of a boat that’s often moored at Reedham on the Norfolk Broads. It’s an intriguing boat that looks like a Thames slipper launch, but which nevertheless has a completely different background. I’ll let Keith tell the story:

We were approaching Reedham on the Norfolk Broads when I noticed a boat which looked rather like a slipper launch and, as I had just finished building one, I decided to make enquiries because this appeared to be a boat out of its normal habitat.

There are two boat yards at Reedham so it didn’t take a lot of searching to find the background to this good looking vessel. I found Steve Sanderson at Hall’s Old Boatyard and he was kind enough to tell me the story of this particular boat.

Rocinante as her reincarnation is called, is not a slipper launch at all but a 23ft Norfolk racing launch, the original of which Steve found on a Yarmouth demolition site in an extreme state of dereliction – and about to be burnt.

However, being a proper wooden boat enthusiast he decided that the boat should be restored or at least saved. He brought the remains to his boatyard in Reedham and he began talking to his friends and neighbours about the boat in general.

On the way back to Wroxham I found the other hull, now fully fitted and moored in Horning. From the river and with a cover on she looks virtually identical to Rocinante – however, I am told that she has been fitted with an American marine diesel engine of 4.8 litres, which should put this launch very definitely back in the racing category!

I did some research and found that launch racing started on Thursday 23rd August 1903; the inaugural race was during Oulton Broad Sailing Regatta Week that year organised by the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club under the auspices of the Norfolk Automobile and Launch Club. Six boats competed in a single heat, and the race was won by a steam launch named Monarch – but by 1910 there were big changes. There’s an interesting club history on the website

For more on this no much more complete story, click here.