Row St Kilda to Skye – 100 miles of very hard work

Row St Kilda to Skye

These folks’ project is to row the 100 mile distance from St Kilda – a remote island that was abandoned in 1930 – to the Isle of Skye in a boat that was built in around 1890, and which hasn’t been used since 1913.

The legend says that on that occasion a visiting lady had missed the scheduled steamer, and the boat was used to row her to meet the same steamer at a later stop at Stromeferry – and ever since that day, it has hung in the rafters of a boathouse.

Before she makes her first big outing for more than a century, however, she is being restored to her former glory.

The trip itself will be very weather-dependant: it will need a big high to calm the Atlantic seas to make it possible to row to Portree via the sound of Harris, around the top of Rhuba Hunish, down the sound of Raasay, past the Black Rock and into Portree harbour. There will be four crew members rowing at any time, each with one wooden hollow sculled oar and a fixed wooden seat, and a coxswain whose jobs will be keeping time, navigating, and bailing – out water! Another four rowers will be on a support vessel, and the two teams will change over at intervals.

The group is training – it has no previous rowing experience – and expects to be rowing for anything between 38 and 48 hours. Apparently, they expect blisters, back pain, sleep deprivation, exhaustion and a certain amount of chafing from the wooden seats… I guess long-distance rowers with some experience might well be able to offer them some useful advice.

There’s a charity dimension to the project also; money raised is to go to the RNLI and Skye & Lochalsh Young Carers.

Read all about Row St Kilda to Skye here.

PS Canoe and lute builder, Phil Bolger boat builder and astronomer and Bill Samson suggests has pointed out that some time ago the BBC Alba screened a TV programme about two women from the Stornoway Canoe Club on the Isle of Lewis, Dolina Swanson and Christine Stewart, recreating a 1965 canoe journey by Hamish and Anne Gow.

The Gows became the first kayakers to make the treacherous 40-plus mile sea journey from the Western Isles to the mystical islands of St Kilda.

Lewis boat builder Angus Smith re-create the original plywood and canvas Clyde double kayak – for the trip… See the BBC’s page of information, a clip and photos here. Thanks Bill!

Spider T’s East Coast voyage promoting the Sailors’ Children’s Society

Spider T sets off on a mission to promote the important work of the the charity the Sailors’ Children’s Society. The trip was made possible by sponsorship provided by ABP.

Spider T trip to promote awareness of the work of the Sailors Childrens Society


Early morning on the Hartlepool to Blyth leg – photo: Chris Horan

Restored Humber sloop Spider T is to embark on a trip up the North-East coast with the aim of promoting awareness of the Sailors Childrens Society, which looks after the children of seafarers who are disadvantaged in some way.

‘There is general belief that UK seafarers are reducing in numbers. We call this sea blindness and the aim of this trip is to help people understand that as an island nation half the food we eat in the UK is imported, most of which comes by sea,’ says the society’s chief officer Deanne Thomas.

However, as the number of British men and women employed in traditional seafaring roles declines, opportunities to work at sea are increasing in a range of growth areas, including cruise ships and superyachts, fish-farming and shell fishing, and wind, wave and tide power projects.

The trip, which is sponsored by Associated British Ports, aims to reach out to families in need throughout the region.

During the week commencing Sunday 23 July, the Spider T’s itinerary is to be the following, weather permitting:

  • Sunday – sail from Keadby to Hull Marina
  • Monday – Hull Marina open all day
  • Tuesday – Bridlington open afternoon
  • Wednesday – Scarborough open afternoon
  • Thursday – Whitby open afternoon
  • Friday – Bridlington open late afternoon
  • Saturday – Hull Marina open afternoon

In each port Spider T will be open for the public to visit. There is no charge, however donations are always welcome!

On another, very sad note, I would like to mark the passing of journalist, author, photographer and Spider T supporter and crewmate Chris Horan, who passed away some days ago at the age of 56. Chris took fabulous photos of Spider T’s trip to Scotland last year. I didn’t know Chris personally, but I do know he was well liked and respected, and that his loss is keenly felt by his Spider T friends. His newspaper colleagues have published a brief obituary.