Twenty members of Rowporty and their families made the annual pilgrimage to Lewis to attend the launch of An Eather’s new skiff, Yackydoola, on Wednesday 15th July 2015 with our good friends at Siabost, a coastal community on the west coast.
This year’s programme extended over 4 days, which included the launch of Yackydoola, 2 ceilidhs, a Hangi, and over 30 miles of coastal rowing.
See the report on BBC Alba of the launch of Yackydoola:
There is a video of the launch posted on An Eather’s facebook page, which can be viewed on YouTube.
After the launch, which took place in the fresh water Loch a’ Bhaile, in Siabost, we were all treated to a lovely lunch at the old school, soup, sandwiches and cakes made by the generous Siabost ladies.
After the launch of Yackydoola, three skiffs (Jenny Skylark from Portobello, Yackydoola and the Stornoway skiff Madadh Ruadh) were launched in Stornoway harbour to take part in the Stornoway parade of oar and sail as part of the Hebfest. We had 3 crews row JS around the harbour and out to the Rubha Airinis light house in glorious sunshine and a light breeze. The fish were not to be found.
After a day of rowing we refuelled with a fish supper in Stornoway before heading to the ceilidh at the Sea Angling Club in Stornoway, which saw some energetic dancing by those attending and some local tuneless singing about rambling and gambling, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, probably for the wrong reasons.
On Thursday 16th July, the 3 skiffs were launched at Crossbost on the East coast of Lewis, south of Stornoway, with the aim of rowing to Keose, around 5 miles. We had wall to wall sunshine and rowed in company, with a fishing boat for safety cover, plus 2 yachts and the dipping lug. The row involved navigating past salmon farms in calm sheltered waters. We spotted sea eagles in flight and made it to our picnic lunch on a beach with piles of discarded scallop shells.
Rowporty ‘borrowed’ the Stornoway skiff for the day, which enabled virtually everyone to get a long row. Others had the opportunity to crew the dipping lug back to Stornoway, where they were fortunate enough to see an Orca!
The plans for Friday 17th July changed due to the increasing wind speed and direction, so Murdo and his team at An Eather arranged for us to launch Yackydoola and JS in Uig, at a little place called Uigean, near Miavaig to row out to Loch Roag.
Seatrek were kind enough to offer one of their large ribs to accompany us and offer safety cover. The row involved rowing past several islands (Flodiah, Gousam, Fuaigh Beag) and returned via Grasabhaig. The wind had picked up but thankfully the return journey involved being pushed along by the wind while we fished. Only 2 small fish found on that day.
Rowporty had 2 crews for this long row, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Those on land had the privilege of an Ian Mackay special tour around the Tweed Mill, which involves taking over the place for an hour! The tour was cut short as Ian was called away on an emergency, he is the local fireman as well as a master weaver, crofter and the nicest man you are likely to meet anywhere. In the afternoon, some of those still on land, where able to enjoy a tour of the local Norse Mill and Black House with Angus Macleod, who has been so good to us over the past years.
In the evening we all met at the Old School in Siabost for a traditional Ceilidh. The Ness Melodian Band 7 accordions, which had everyone up dancing, a mixture of Rowporty and Siabost locals, a fine blend. There were a number of people taking turns for a song including Martine from Port Seaton, Ruby & Phoebe from Rowporty, Beth, Jennifer Spiers and several local Gaelic singers, including Ian Macaulay, Annie Maclennan, Wasp and Calum Angus Macdonald.
Can’t help falling in love with you sung by Ruby & Phoebe
Riptide sung by Ruby & Phoebe
On Saturday 18th July, another early start! This time we launched the 2 skiffs on the local fresh water loch at Siabost for tester sessions for local families. The weather was a bit dreich in the morning, but this did not put off the locals as there was a steady stream of people wanting to have a shot at one of the rowing boats. At one point we had 9 adults and children in JS!
At 1pm we were back at the Old School in Siabost for another lunch of soup, sandwiches, tea & coffee and a selection of home backing. Further tester sessions took place in the afternoon, until around 4pm, where the Yackydoola and JS eyed each other at the start line of a 1.5klm race around 3 buoys.
The race started well with Yackydoola getting a few yards ahead before JS overtook her on the way to the first buoy. The race was on as Yackydoola’s cox tried to overtake JS on the way to the second buoy by heading directly to buoy 3. It was a tight race around buoy 2 and 3. In the final straight, in sight of victory and in front of a large crowd (4 people, 6 sheep, 2 highland cows, 3 ducks and one goose) the boats where gliding along side by side, so close in fact that one of Jackydoola’s fine new oars with oak inserts, knocked Cathy clean off her seat, causing some hilarity and excitement, the boats crossed the imaginary waterly line to the sound of Ian Mackay’s pick up truck’s horn and cheers from the gathered crowds!
Then there was enough time to load the boats onto their respective trailers and head for the feast that was the Hangi. Murdo and his family have been holding a Maori Hangi in Siabost for the past 15 years and we were lucky enough to be invited this year. As you would imagine, it was a feast which we devoured with gusto. Then came puddings, every kind of crumble and cake you can imagine, to die for.
The prize giving took place after the Hangi:
Finally, a big thank you to Murdo and his family for their warm hospitality and for all those in Siabost, who have been so generous with us again this year. We look forward to returning the kind hospitality when you come to see us in Portobello in the not too distant future.
From Rowporty’s view point, it was great seeing the birth of another skiffing club with all the vibrancy, enthusiasm and friendship that comes from building a beautiful skiff and getting it on the water. A great addition to the Siabost community and we hope it helps to strengthen community bonds and enables new links to be forged with other coastal communities.
- Latest video from Murdo