Row St Kilda to Skye

This summer a group of locals rowed 100 miles from Village Bay St Kilda to Portree on the Isle of Skye in an open rowing boat bulit around 1890, and raised funds for the RNLI and Skye & Lochalsh Young Carers along the way.

The next mission for Row St Kilda to Skye is to reintroduce skiff racing back to the Isle of Skye Highland Games – their boat Aurora was originally built to race in the games’ regatta, so next August the aim is to have her racing once again.

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Row St Kilda has started

Row St Kilda crew practising

Great good luck you lot! The row St Kilda crew practising

They’ve set off – the 100-mile fund-raising row from Village bay St Kilda to Portree on the Isle of Skye in an open rowing boat built around 1890 began earlier today.

The rowers are raising funds for the RNLI and Skye & Lochalsh Young Carers. The link for donations is here; their website is here, the BBC has a story here, and track their progress here.

I wonder whether they’ll do it all again next year?

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!