Andres Leslie’s account of the Rowporty Trip to Lewis 2017

At An Eathar Rowing Club’s invitation, 21 members of Rowporty made the annual journey to Siabost to take part in An Eathar’s 3 day sailing and rowing event in Harris and Lewis.

Various parties travelled up to Lewis on different days and via different routes. The skiff, Jenny Skylark, travelled via Ullapool to Stornoway, but others chose to travel via Uig in Skye to Tarbert in Harris, which is a little longer but very pretty. Some intrepid canoeists returned the long way by travelling down the chain of islands to South Uist and catching the ferry to Oban.

The event was a great success at many levels. It brought a wide range of people together from seven rowing clubs. The event attracted 43 participants from around the world, including 2 from Port Seton (Martine Robertson and Bernadette Goslin), one from Ullapooll (Tom Grant), 2 from Bristol (Sarah Latham and Frances Sheridan), 2 from North Berwick (Sheena and Phil Robertson) who attended the Saturday program, 2 from Tasmania (Deb van Velsen and Martin Riddle), one from Williamstown, Melbourne (Jane Howard) and 21 from Rowporty, Portobello, Edinburgh.

On Thursday 13th of July 2017 the weather dictated that we change our plans, instead of rowing south out of Loch Seaforth, Harris, we rowed with the increasing wind north towards Seaforth Island. The five skiffs, Yackydoola, Blue Moon, Florence and Fir Chlis were launched at the slip at Maraig. The fleet included a 2 man rowing boat, a Drake called Pascual with a single rower. One person took an unintentional swim off the slip while launching the fleet on a tight slip! However, this helped test the life-jackets and our ‘man over board’ procedure (among some suppressed giggles), but we had him into dry clothes in no time.

Safety cover was kindly provided by Michael Skelly with his substantial fishing boat and his son David on a rib. In addition, we were accompanied by a traditional lug sail boat called An Sulaire and John Smith’s yacht called Sharoni, both these were crewed by additional rowers that swapped into the skiffs on the return journey. Part of the safety planning required skiffs to be paired together (within shouting distance!) in the event a VHF failed and for the fleet to remain close together, mostly! Each skiff also had a nominated skipper that was responsible for the crew and the craft and Malcolm the Unflappable did a grand job with skippering Jenny Skylark through all weathers.

The sun shone as the wind increased making it a fast row with plenty of opportunities for surfing the boats! We found a sheltered spot for our picnic lunch on the northern shore of Seaforth Island, around 5 nautical miles (NM) from Maraig. After lunch the fleet completed the circumnavigation of the island and headed back into the wind. The long fetch meant that the wind picked up a short chop that made for a stiff row. The rain then poured, reducing visibility for a short time. Fir Chlis requested a tow from Michael into the lee of the western coast of Loch Seaforth and Yackydoola also benefited from a short tow in order to keep the fleet together.

As we arrived back into the bay at Maraig, where there was considerable shelter, the rain stopped and everyone was pleased to see the slip where the 6 rowing boats were loaded onto trailers. The boats were then towed and stored overnight at the School car park in Tarbert, Harris.

Everyone was then transported to Scalpaigh Community Centre where we were to stay the night. 40 North, a fine Croft Kitchen from North Bragar (www.40northfoods.co.uk), provided a fantastic range of home made food for the hungry and bedraggled rowing mob, which catered for the various culinary requirements, including a hearty main course and a range of delicious puddings. The food was reheated in the large kitchen at the Community centre and served by the food moguls of Mhairi and Trevor, who took over and fed the masses.

We all bedded down in the warm, dry community centre hall, which as the night took hold was transformed into something resembling a farm yard with a cacophony of involuntary sounds from tired and sleeping rowers. Although there was some apprehension initially at everyone sleeping in the same hall, it certainly provided an opportunity to get to know each better!

The morning of Friday 14th July arrived briskly and after breakfast the skiffs where brought into Scalpaigh by road and launched from the slip at Scalpaigh. The crews sailing An Sulaire and Sharoni were delivered to the slip at Maraig and they made their way to Stornoway. Along the way they were treated to the sight of porpoises and a minke whale that breached some 20-30 meters from An Sulaire, much to the delight of those onboard.

In the meantime, the fleet of skiffs set forth into East Loch Tarbert and headed south of Sgeotasaigh Island to the plethora of small islands called The Gloraigs were several fish were caught. The wind increased in speed as the morning wore on, but we had plenty of shelter from the small islands and found a lovely spot for our lunch. There was a short pier at Drinisiadar where we basked in the sun
and found An Clo Mor tweed exhibition which had fascinating textile displays and toilets!

In the afternoon we had a short row along the sheltered coast to our destination at Maibhag slip. The rain returned as the boats were loaded onto trailers and drivers ferried back to Scalpaigh to collect their vehicles. We had completed 7.6NM in leisurely fashion, with much chatter and laughter coming from the various skiffs. We arrived back at Siabost for showers, food and bed. Some where camping and others had rented accommodation and others stayed at the finely appointed Bunk House at Carloway.

On the morning of Saturday 15th of July the sky was wet and it gave the impression that we were going to have a wash out. But after we launched a couple of boats onto the sweet water at Siabost Loch a Bhaile, the skies parted and the sun shone the rest of the day. The aim of the day was to provide tester sessions for anyone in the community that was interested in rowing. We had around 12 local people, including young children and young adults who had never rowed before. We also had many people try out the 2 person sculling rowboat Pascual and several takers for a go on a splendid home made canoe which Michael and Joanne Asllop had brought all the way from Edinburgh.

We then were invited to the Siabost Community Centre for the internationally renowned lunch! 72 people sat down for a choice of soups and a delicious variety of home backing, which were prepared and served by 6 ladies who took on the role of ‘dinner ladies’.

After lunch it was time to prepare for the skiff races across the Siabost Loch a Bhaile. The races required the participating rowers to collect the peats that had been scattered to the four winds by local children that morning and a bag was left on the shore so that the teams could ‘bring home the peats’ which will keep the locals warm for a night or two over the harsh winter.

The results were unequivocal, Yakidoola won the first race with an all-male crew and Jenny Skylark came second, but first in the all women category! Blue Moon came third, but first in the mixed crews and Florence came a respectable fourth. Pascual, who had led the pack to the other side of the loch with double sculls, and was already on its way back, broke an oar in the frenetic enthusiasm and lost focus retrieving the broken blade. Therefore, An Eather were able to keep that trophy for another year.

Due to public demand, a second race was held where Jenny Skylark came first, followed by Yakidoola with a mixed crew from Bristol and Australia, closely followed by Florence. The boats where then all packed away and after a quick bite to eat and shower, we all reconvened at the Siabost Community Centre for a ceilidh. The Ness Melodeon Band got everyone up dancing, while willing volunteers took a turn to entertain a packed hall. Martine from Port Seaton did a lovely poem and Brendan from the USA sang Appalachian mountain twang. Jennifer Spiers sang a well-known Gaelic song too.

On Sunday 12 willing participants attended the local Free Church of Scotland service led by Rev Calum Mcleod. Mrs. Anneta Mcleod extended a warm invitation for teas, coffees and home backing after the service, which gave us an opportunity to get to know the local parishioners better. There was no rowing on Sunday in accordance with local custom and many went for a walk instead.

On behalf of Rowporty, we would like to extend a very warm thanks to Jackie Craig and Murdo Mcleod for all their hard work and organizational magic. Also, a big thank you to all those at An Eathar who helped with the logistics and work behind the scenes to make the event a memorable one, again. We hope to be back next year.

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Portobello Regatta 10th of June 2017

Portobello’s Coastal Rowing Club “Rowporty” will be holding a regatta on Saturday June 10th, on the beach at Portobello in front of its boatyard at the bottom of Bath Street. The community club has invited teams from around the Firth of Forth and the programme has been designed to provide fun events along with competitive racing and of course the customary legendary food and cake stall.

 

ROWPORTY†Regatta†June†10th†2017

Dear Skiffers

Thank you again for registering for the 2017 Rowporty community regatta.The aim is to have fun with competition and below you will find details for arrival and the day. Clubs attending are Eastern, North Berwick, Port Seton, Kinghorn, St. Andrew’s, Eskmuthe, Newhaven and Dunbar. Win medals and have fun!

Best wishes

Rowporty Regatta Committee

 

Parking : local car parks are in Bridge Street and by Tumbles off West Bank Street and also there is parking in Kings Road.

Toilets : Public toilets are available in Bath Street near the traffic lights. Also toilets are located towards the West of the prom just before the flats and Kilns. Portobello Baths are also making available their toilets for rowers on the day. This is between the boatyard and John Street.

Boat arrival and plan for those boats arriving by trailer for the day :

Arrive at the bottom of John Street in good time and you will be met by a Rowporty green topped beach – master :-). We will take the trailers with tractor to the beach and boats will be brought to the start line which is the low tide mark and trailers parked on the beach by the promenade wall.

The first race starts at 10.20 so it would be ideal if boats arrive between 8.30 and 9.30 in John Street. Each club will have a designated place on the beach marked with club name. The Cox’s Briefing will be at the boatyard at 10.00am.

Food and drink : Bacon rolls will be available for the early birds and we will be offering hot food for lunch and tea/coffee/cakes throughout the day in the boatyard by the Beach House cafe.

Following Anstruther’s lead we would encourage you bring your own “mug” for tea/coffee to save too much waste and to maintain our green image :-). Also it would help us if you brought plenty of loose change for purchases :-).

Raffle : There will be a raffle for prizes donated by the Promenade hostelries namely Dalriada, Espy, Miros, Crumbs and the Tide Cafe . Tickets available at the food/tea tent and prizes awarded at the evening medal ceremony. The Beach House cafe next to the boatyard are also supporting us on the day and helping with facilities.

Medals: With a lot of medals to award we will need to be expeditious and therefore will have two medal ceremonies, one during the lunch break and the other after the last race.

Race Information: A club registration desk will be in the boat yard. The races from the beach will vary in length depending on the state of the tide. Relay race: This will require two teams from each club, each team to include at least two female rowers. Conventional life jackets will be swapped on shore ensuring that no life jacket is undone in the boat. Interclub Mixed race: Each club to nominate 4 rowers, two men and two women, boats to be coxed by club coxes.

 

Portobello Regatta Race Schedule

Time & Category

10.00 Cox’s Briefing

10.20 Novice Mixed

10.40 60+ W

11.00 60+ M

11.20 60+MX

11.40 45+M

12.00 Lunch and First Medal ceremony

12.20 Picnic Class Race

13.00 45+W

13.20 45+MX

13.40 Open M

14.00 Open W

14.20 Open Mx

15.00 Inter club Mx

15.30 Relay Mx

16.00 Final Medal Ceremony

Singing Competition : The day is not over after the presentation of medals, later at 8 pm in the Dalriada Bar there will be an inter-club sea shanty singing competition in the front garden of the promenade bar. Rowporty’s inimitable Murdo Macleod is choirmaster for Rowporty. The Dalriada is on the promenade, a 5 minute walk further east from John Street where you will arrive with your boats and trailers. The competition will be judged by accomplished local musicians and the Dalriada cup presented to the winners. This is an optional event but we do hope Rowporty will have some competition:-)

Later : At 9 pm The Dalriada have the GTs playing in the bar, highly acclaimed local maestros to continue the evening and if making it a weekend.

The Portobello 4 mile beach race starts on Sunday at 10 outside the Dalriada. You can enter on the day with registration at 9.00 am. Perfect way to burn off excess post race cakes and beer :-).

Thanks go to the local establishments for their support and also to the PSKC sailing club and Eastern Rowing Club who are both helping us with rescue boat duties and other tasks on the day as needed. We hope you have fun and that the weather is on our side. We are sure it will be wonderful community event.