Our St Ayles Skiff

The guiding principal of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project is that fast, safe, attractive boat kits are available for building at a relatively modest cost. The very fact that the boats should be built by their owners and operators is intended to increase the pride and cohesiveness of those communities and groups.

Prototype Skiff on launch day

The boat, the St Ayles Skiff, will provide a desired mix of tradition, seaworthiness, speed, and ease of build. These boats take a crew of five – four rowing and a coxswain to steer and coach the crew during racing and training.

The St Ayles Skiff was commissioned by The Scottish Fisheries Museum and designed by Ian Oughtred, a renowned small boat designer based on Skye. The design is based on the Fair Isle Skiffs, like the replicas on display in the Museum. They share a common heritage with the Norwegian faerings, seksaerings and ottrings – 4, 6 and 8-oared boats.

The technical bit…
The Skiff is very seaworthy given the amount of boat above the waterline and the broad beam, but is narrow at the waterline. This ensures that when the boat meets a short steep wave – intending to swamp the boat – it will ride up high and dry ready to face the next wave. The Skiffs can be pulled hard against wind and sea, their lightweight making it easy to row, even for an 11 year old. The Skiff can be optionally be fitted with short mast and sail, but the intention is to just row them with a crew of five. Four single oar rowers sit on rowing thwarts, which are closely spaced at around 3ft to concentrate the crew’s weight amidships. A coxswain steers the skiff from a small bucket seat at the stern with hand on tiller to a rudder or alternatively by using a steering oar.

The Skiff is fast and easy to row

The St Ayles Skiff is 22ft long, with a beam of 5′8″.  Manufactured from marine graded plywood the Skiff is supplied in kit form by Jordan Boats located in Fife. The skiff is build upside down on a mould, the builder fitting plywood planks to create the clinker hull. The bow, stern and keel are made from laminated larch, carefully bend around a frame to create the correct shape.







Here are some pictures of the skiff during the launch in Newhaven harbour November 2010. This was the first boat to be launched in the harbour since 1928.  100’s of locals and dignateries attended the launch.

The pictures underneath show the skiff under construction in a shed in Granton. It took us about 900 hours to build, of which 300 hours were chatting, eating bacon rolls and head scratching.

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