Help launch Portobello’s second skiff on Sunday 17 April

On Sunday 17th, Portobello’s new skiff will be carried along the prom from Joppa to Bath Street, then down onto the beach for a naming ceremony.

Join us on the prom from 12 noon.

There will also be a presentation by the Royal West of Scotland Club, who are returning a racing trophy from the days of the original Portobello Amateur Rowing club, so that we can use it as a prize in this year’s Portobello Regatta on the last weekend in July. After a short ceremony, the new skiff will be launched at high tide. Her sister skiff ‘Icebreaker’ will be waiting for her out on the water, along with several guest boats.

For everyone who chose to spend the long winter months battling with pieces of wood in an icy boatshed, this is a very exciting stage to have reached. When the new skiff finally gets out into the sunshine, all freshly painted – including her name – and ready for the water, it will be a huge achievement.

There’s a great deal of rowing ahead. These longer spring days mean evening training sessions are possible as well as the daytime ones, which is just as well as the first regatta of the season is only five weeks away! With all the new rowers currently taking turns to train in ‘Icebreaker’, our first skiff, completed last spring, we can really use this second skiff. There are no plans to start making a third skiff in Portobello, not yet anyway…

However, after the launch, the Porty boatshed will still be actively in use for conservation and maintenance, as Rowporty has just taken possession of one of the original coastal rowing boats, which is almost a hundred years old. Donated by The Broughty Ferry Rowing Club, this beautiful old Jolly boat arrived in Portobello on Wednesday. It is currently sitting in the Portobello boat yard looking very long, narrow, sleek and fast. On Monday a second survivor from the ‘Jolly boat’ days will make the journey from Broughty Ferry to its new home here in Portobello. If those two old boats are still seaworthy, they’ll be out on the water with the others on launch day.

Meanwhile, in the boatshed, now considerably warmer than last month, the race is on to complete the many and varied final tasks on the new skiff before high tide on launch day!

The Jolly Boat travels from Broughty Ferry to Portobello

The Jolly Boat was built in Dundee almost 100 years ago, and conforms to the Jolly boat category. She is 26 feet long and about 3 feet wide, clinker built, solid wood, for a crew of 4 and a cox.  She has not been in the water for over 20 years, having been stored in a shed in Broughty Ferry all this time. Sadly, The Broughty Ferry Rowing Club is disbanding as it only has 4 members left. The premises and all assets have been taken over by the Royal Tay Yacht Club.

The Jolly boat has no name at the moment, and we have been handed the responsibility to be the custodians of this gorgeous boat. The plan is to have her out on the day of the launch of skiff 2 and then we plan to take her into the workshop to fix the leaks and give her another coat of varnish. The boat looks fast and we aim to have her out with experienced crews (club members) over the summer on calm days with no or little surf. We suspect she will not be as sea-worthy on a choppy sea as Icebreaker is because she sits lower in the water and the bow is a straight line. This boat provides a direct link to Portobello’s rowing past; members will be travel back in time and experience what pre-war folk experienced when out rowing in the Forth.

Jolly boats are called Jolly boats because they were used by large ships to allow the crew to go ashore, for a Jolly. Let us hope she does prove to be Jolly and not a bit of dead wood!

All photos (c) Max Blinkhorn


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.