Some essential viewing: the Go-betweens, Channel 4 on Cornish pilot boats

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The Go-Betweens

I’ve raved about Channel 4’s Classic Ships series before – but this episode on the go-betweens – pilot boats and other boats serving the old sailing ships – is even better than anything we’ve seen so far.

Narrated by the lugubrious-voiced John Peel, it includes footage and informative discussion of a personal barge built in 1740 and used by generations of aristocrats; the development of the tosher, including a lot of talk from a retired Fowey pilot; and also a long segment on the Scillonian pilot gig including material from legendary gig builder Ralph Bird.

If you’re in the UK, I’d recommend you watch it at your first opportunity – the adverts are irritating of course but the programme is well worth the wait, and you never know when these TV gems will be taken down. If you’re not in the UK, I’m told you may be able find a proxy server somewhere if you Google around…

Faroese rowers racing on BBC Television

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Faroese rowersFaroese rowers working hard

The past few weeks have been an amazing time for interesting boats on BBC Television – and the latest sighting, racing Faroese rowing boats on an episode in the Coast series, is available on the BBC iPlayer.

I can hardly believe I’ve beaten the usually alert Chris Partridge of Rowing for Pleasure to posting about this, but the programme shows the interesting and elegant boats in action and includes an interview with a group of attractive if powerfully developed Faroese women rowers. It’s noticeable that their English is excellent – and we’re told that they learn the language using the Internet.

Way up north of Scotland, Orkney and even Shetland, the Faroes are remote but these days far from isolated, as the presenter points out.

Like their tall, blonde rowers, the Faroese craft are clearly the result of the Viking era, and even the modern fishing boats in the harbour show a close kinship to Viking ships.

Click here for a photo of a Faroese women’s rowing team taking part in a race.

Click here for a Flickr gallery of Faroese boats.

Click here for still more photos of Faroese boats on the Wikimedia Commons.


Modern motorised Faroes boats still show their evolution from Viking ships: taken from the Wikimedia