The St Ayles skiff hits the water

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St Ayles skiff 2

St Ayles skiff 1

The St Ayles skiff meets the water for the first time – as usual click on the images for larger shots

The Scottish Coastal Rowing Project’s first St Ayles skiff hit the water for the first time on Sunday, and had her first try-out with a set of borrowed oars.

Builder and key powerhouse behind the project Alec Jordan reports that the Iain Oughtred-designed boat is a joy to row, as she’s stable and fast at the same time. The photos above are courtest of Alec, who must be very proud.

The boat is to be officially launched at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther on Saturday 31 October at 11am. Once the formalities are over there will be a chance to row the boat – if you’d like a go, please contact Alec by email at

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The first St Ayles skiff building progress, 9th October 2009

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the never ending cleanup DSC_3518 Cox's seat

Alec trying tiller options

Chris Perkins’ and Alec Jordan’s latest photos of the first St Ayles skiff build, including some more shots of the increasingly well exposed Alec Jordan – I hope he enjoys his new celebrity!

These are Chris Perkins’ and Alec Jordan’s photos showing the latest progress on the Iain Oughtred-designed St Ayles skiff currently  going together in Alec’s workshop for use by the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project. For more on this story, click here.

Here’s what Chris has to say this week:

‘A belated catch up report, for which apologies, on the progress of the St Ayles Skiff.

‘My last week on the project was spent cleaning up the inwales, building a temporary cox perch and generally helping fit the furniture and titivating. Each time this stage is reached in a build I am amazed at how much time is absorbed removing material. Work that will never be appreciated by anyone who has not got that particular T shirt but is immediately apparent if it is neglected. The route to a respectable finish always lies in the preparation – a truism that can never be said often enough in my view.

‘The snaps include a couple of high level shots showing the almost structurally completed boat, just the breasthooks to fit at that stage (now done), obtained after some precarious ladder work by Alec in the upper reaches of his workshop.

‘The cox’s seat is a temporary affair until the positioning of feet and seats are proven on the water, after which the buoyancy compartments will be retrofitted – space is pretty tight and it would be easy to get positioning wrong in a static environment – we really need to see the dynamics of the interaction of the various bodies to establish best position.

‘The week passed all too quickly and my time on the build was over. Altogether it has been a fascinating few weeks that has transformed my view of kit boats. I am extremely grateful for Alec’s invitation to join in the build which I hugely enjoyed – so much so that I have put my name down for the Ullapool group aiming to build the first West Coast St Ayles skiff, although I’m not sure I have the spine to be an oarsman.

‘Alec has now started applying the finish, varnished gunnels and thwarts with the rest of the hull painted so it shouldn’t be too long before I head down to the other end of Scotland to see how she looks on the water.


Thanks once again Chris!

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The first St Ayles skiff, 24 Sept 2009

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The St Ayles skiff at the 25th of September. The chap hamming it up on the thwart is Alec Jordan himself

The first Iain Oughtred-designed St Ayles skiff currently being built in Alec Jordan’s workshop continues to make steady progress as the construction team worker on her interior joinery. For more on the St Ayles skiff and the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project, click here.

Here’s what Chris Perkins, our correspondent on the project, had to say over the weekend:

Not much obvious progress over the last week, attached snaps show the state of play as at last Friday. I think the week has demonstrated the obvious: kitting a clinker ply hull only saves time in skinning the hull, the internal fitting out with all it’s joinery challenges still takes as long as it ever.

Some deep thinking is going on during the fitting out to help make this part of the build as easy as possible for novice builders. We have already partly moved away from Iain’s glorious sweeping taper of the inwale, planing that down on all three laminations has proved very time consuming; the twisted grain in larch hasn’t helped as deep cuts tend to tear out, so fine cuts and very keen plane irons are the order of the day.

Our modification does recognise tradition as study of a traditionally built Fair Isle skiff shows – though I just wish I had taken far more snaps of Aluna Ivy at the Portsoy Festival this year! If only I had known what I would be getting involved with!

The trial of seating positions by Alec was very useful. The cox is going to have to be a pretty short lightweight as there is not a great deal of room in the stern, but we are now comfortable that the spacing of the thwarts is going to work well.



Thanks Chris! I look forward to hearing more about the project next week.

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