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.
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!