Sephira the Musical Ark comes to Scotland to race – and to serenade whales

There seems to be no limit to the rapid growth of the Scottish Coastal Rowing movement – and perhaps there’s no limit either to its ambition and imagination.

A case in point is Sephira the Musical Ark – an Iain Oughtred-designed St Ayles skiff built by students and teachers at Moravian Academy, a school at Bethlehem in Pennsylvania.

Most of these boats are built by communities, but the difference in this case is that the boat is rigged with eight long piano wires from stemhead to stern with the aim of making it a kind of sea-going harp – the string lengths and tensions are said to be designed to play notes in the frequency range of whale song.

That’s the imagination bit. The ambition bit is that the school is raising money to transport the boat over the Atlantic to Ullapool for the Skiffie World Championship on the 8th-14th July – and it seems they’ve done sufficiently well that the boat has actually begun  its journey.

While in Scotland, the boat will also row to an area where whales are known to congregate, and play music for a while… It will be interesting to see how they respond.

The whole thing sounds like a lovely, exotic idea to me. If you fancy chipping a few dollars to help pay for the expedition, click here.

St Ayles Skiff World Championships – 8th to 14th July 2013


Photos by Chris Perkins

Scottish Coastal Rowing Association officials have chosen Ullapool for the venue for the first world championships for coastal rowing in boats built to Iain Oughtred’s St Ayles skiff design.

Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club is delighted to be at the centre of organising the event, along with partner organisations the Loch Broom Sailing Club, Coigach Community Rowing and the Ullapool Harbour Trustees.

The growth of St Ayles Skiff building and rowing by communities internationally has been astonishing. The aim of the new event is to provide an opportunity for rowers from across the globe to meet in friendly competition.

Set on the banks of a on the banks of Loch Broom, a large sheltered sea loch in the North-West of Scotland, Ullapool is an excellent location for such an event.  The local rowing club says it is also well equipped to cater for visitors and the area’s community is accustomed to running large cultural events, and that Skiffie Worlds will be well within its capacity.

A full programme of maritime and land-based activities and entertainment is planned, culminating with a prize-giving and a boisterous ceilidh on Saturday 13 July.

For information check the growing website at