Ice Breaker Has A New Rudder

After weeks of slaving away in his steamy workshop Michael Allsop has unveiled a new rudder for Ice Breaker. If this design passes its sea trials over the next few weeks then Jenny Skylark will be retro-fitted with the same design of rudder. Michael may even be prevailed upon further to produce a spare rudder in case of any misadventure with either of these rudders which should have the big advantage of being able to fit either of our boats.

Fitting this rudder is slightly different and I am putting a link below to short instructional clip from Michael. Click Here for YouTube

To see Ice Breaker take to the waves again Click Here



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 (, 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.

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.



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.

Boat Handling Video 1


It’s the middle of May. The early spring flowers are nearly over. The blossom is out on the cherry trees. It should be gently warming up towards summer.

But instead, a snell Nor’ Easter blows in from the North Sea, whipping the waves up into a frenzy of surf, spray and foam. The crews, instead of getting out into the water, spend their time staring forlornly out into the Firth and wondering when the good weather will actually reach this part of the world!

What better time to think about making a safety video.


It’s been talked about for a while – but finally Margaret O’Neill (the words) and David Calder (the pictures) got together to make it happen. Margaret brought together a skilled Boat Handling Team: Catherine Scott, Calum Macdonald, Mhairi Sumner, Pam MacDiarmid, Patsy James, Suzanne Connolly.

This video – the second in the series – focuses on manoeuvring the skiff, lifting it off and on to trolleys and stowing it after use. Look out for more as the weather (hopefully) improves!

Success at Eskmuthe Quiz Night


We won! This “silver” trophy was the prize won by “The Sea Dog’s Rollocks!” – a RowPorty team made up of Margaret O’Neill, Ian Campbell, Mhairi Sumner and David Calder.

We all had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the Eskmuthe Quiz Night in Musselburgh. The RowPorty crew joined teams from Boatie Blest and the home club in a thoroughly enjoyable evening, a mix of friendly competition and excellent curry!

There were six rounds in total, with subjects as varied as “sea areas and sea lanes” and films and television programmes where the sea played a significant part. Each team could play a “Joker” and gain double the points. The winning team scored 19/20 in the first round, one where they had played the Joker, and that set the pattern for the rest of the evening.

There was however more than just a quiz. There was also a game of bingo which another RowPorty team, made up of Max and Jess Blinkhorn and Michael Reville, won. Max also won a bottle of malt whisky in the raffle.

The trophy may look impressive on the table – but as you can see below, it is a somewhat less impressive prize when put into context!


And thanks to Max for this picture of the winning team!

The Winning Team

Great Tyne Row – Sun 6th Sept

Thanks to Clive Drewitt for the following report from this years Great Tyne Row.  Photos from Northern Rowing and from Peter Ashe:
No, we don't know either. But they were fastest St Ayles!</div.

The sun came out for the 2015 Great Tyne Row!  This is an annual 25 km race from Newburn to Tynemouth through the heart of Newcastle.  The race starts in semi rural Newburn, passes through Newcastle city centre and through the commercial port to finish at the sea.  This year there were no shipping movements and we were able to row straight through to the finish.  40 boats took part, 25 sliding seat, 15 fixed, including 8 St Ayles skiffs.
With the wind and the tide behind us, times were quick, with the fastest boat award going to a sliding seat 4 from Devil’s Elbow RC in 1 hour 41 minutes.  The fastest fixed seat boats were “coastal fours” from Scarborough, with their first boat finishing in 2 hours 5 minutes.  These have beautifully crafted long wooden clinker hulls, one was built by Mark Edwards, who led the build of the Royal Barge Gloriana.  Rowporty rowed their hearts out and split the Scarborough fleet of four boats, scoring third fixed seat and fastest St Ayles (2 hours 10 minutes).
Newhaven followed close behind, chased by North Berwick rowing “randan” with three rowers in a Hanningfield Skiff.  St Andrews brought home the next fixed seat boat and were awarded the Harry Clasper award for sportsmanship, having completed the course without a rudder, the cox using a paddle to steer the boat.  We assume this was never used as extra propulsion!
gtr zev

An ocean rowing boat propelled by two rowers turned in a respectable 2 hours 38 minutes, and the St Ayles skiffs crewed by Blyth, Whitburn and Amble earned a special mention for finishing in a three way dead heat in 2 hours 48 minutes.  Whitburn also won the award for best dressed Skiff, while Blyth were awarded the prize for Open St. Ayles skiff (just!).
Whitburn's Fishermen
The swell rolling into the harbour entrance at Tynemouth led to consternation for some crews, (not the St. Ayles rowers!), but all made it safely ashore to land at Tynemouth Rowing Club (motto “Row the Waves”), to be greeted by a steel band, home baking, a barbecue and beer!  Special thanks are due to all the volunteers from Tynemouth RC who helped to get boats landed quickly and efficiently
gtr waves
 The event was very well run and a good time was had by all, and basking in the afternoon sun after all that exercise put the icing on the cake!
 More info, full results and a countdown to next year’s race can be found here:
and lots of photographs can be found on the GTR Facebook page:

Rowporty at Portobello Village Fair

We spent Sunday 6th Sept at the 2015 Portobello Village Show turning burgers into cash – very successfully. We won’t be giving up our day jobs but we did enjoy ourselves.

We ran the day in a very focused fashion and once we started we didn’t pause for breath until the last burger was sold.

We had Andres & Fergus on chef duty, Emily, Mhairi  and Gillian serving up the lovely burgers and Larry and MC relieving punters of their cash. Lots of folk stepped in to help including Mhairi’s kids.

A massive effort from Fergus to get burgers and his famous “onions” at the right place & time. Mhairi did a Scotmid-smallwonderful job with tasty salads. Andres connected with the wonderful ScotMid of Portobello who sponsored us by way of free burger buns – very handy and very much appreciated. In total we made £500 profit and given the demand we could have done it twice over.
The day itself couldn’t have been more perfect – the brass band, tug-of-war, cake stand and lots of happy people milling about. Our main competition on the “hot food” front was the boys brigade – but our queue was longer! A note for next year to myself – get masses of change for the float – nobody uses cash anymore.

Loch Shiel Jacobite Muster

6 of us from Rowporty went to the Jacobite Muster, Ali took the North Edinburgh skiff: Troika, whilst Max, Calum, Chris, Mhairi & Patsy went with Ice Breaker.

We set off in wet, windy weather from Portobello, Max & Calum towing Ice Breaker, whilst Mhairi, Chris & Patsy travelled together. We only stopped off once, to brew a cup of tea in Glencoe. The weather improved as we went. We got across the Corran Ferry in no time at all & arrived at Acharacle, the starting point of our row up Loch Shield to the Jacobite Muster at Glenfinnan. Ice Breaker & the guys already there. There was a bit of a chill wind. We set off as we were ready: North Queensferry first, then Ullapool, Rowporty, Anstruther & the other 4 skiffs a bit later.

It was about a 2 hour row to Glenalandale where we were due to wild camp for the night, luckily we had the wind behind us to help us along & the rain held off. Although we had a lot of kit, it didn’t impede us at all. We reached our camping point at dusk. Just enough time to pitch our tents & get supper on the go. Mhairi ably assisted by Chris, treated us to a wonderful meal of salmon teriyaki, managing everything on one burner, whilst I cooked the noodles (I think!). It felt as if she fed 5000 of us, although in reality it was probably 8 – 10 folk. Absolutely brilliant meal – if this is the standard to expect on wild camping trips, please can I come again!

After supper, some of us, well probably only me, sloped off to get some kip, whilst most sat round a campfire into the wee small hours [Campfire story here please]. The camping was fine, a few midges to annoy us, but nothing too drastic.  It was great to be camping with a largish group who had all rowed to get there & well away from cars & all mod cons, relying on our wits.

Wild Camping in Glenalandale

The next morning before striking camp we were treated to another feast of Vegetarian sausages, mushroom & potato scones cooked in egg – absolutely delicious once again – thanks to Mhairi & sous chef Chris. We struck camp in the sunshine & I was optimistic enough put on sunscreen without having the sense to check the sky – the next minute it was pelting down & we had a good soaking for 15-20 minutes. However, with spirits undampened, we set off rowing in company towards Glenfinnan. As this was ‘Troika’s maiden voyage we decided to salute her as we arrived at Glenfinnan, which we all enjoyed.

The only disappointing part of the trip was our arrival at Glenfinnan where we were underwhelmed by the welcome, which I would describe as ‘polite indifference’, although a few folk did welcome us, not sure if they were locals or tourists.

Soon after we arrived, Max & Mhairi took a minibus with others to go & collect their cars/trailer. I went briefly into the highland games, as did Chris & Calum, but  soon found some Boatie Blest folk at the visitor centre having tea, whilst I held my wine under the table taking an occasional slug! Later I had a row in Troika & then set off to have a cuppa in the railway carriage at the station that’s used as a cafe. Whilst there I saw the Jacobite Express which stopped briefly at Glenfinnan station before going on its way. I then walked under the railway line & along a crazy path which led me up to a vantage point where I could look down on the Glenfinnan Viaduct, with great views also down Loch Shiel.


Meanwhile Chris stayed on at the Highland Games & ran a hill race of which he writes:

After we came ashore at Glenfinnan I spent most of the afternoon at the highland games. I had noticed that a ‘hill race’ was on the list of events virtually at the end of the day. I was keen to take part in this as taking part in a highland games would be a first for me. I had no idea how long the race would be (there are some big hills around Glenfinnan!) but on enquiring I learnt that it was more of a mad dash up to the top of a nearby viewpoint just behind the visitor centre and then back into the arena.

In the meantime I had a few hours leisure to take in some of the events. These included dancing, piping, track and ‘heavy’ events, including the caber which, although open to all comers I was not tempted to take part! Also noteworthy were a number of magnificently attired Jacobite soldiers who looked as of they had stepped straight off the pages of one of the military history books in which I had sought inspiration for Porty’s own outfits for the occasion. It would be fair to say that it would take weeks of work to achieve the authenticity which these soldiers had attained, complete with broadswords, flintlock muskets and dirks. After a parade around the arena this contingent took up a defensive position around the beer tent and held this formation until the close of the games.

Of particular interest to me was to see pipers competing in the pibroch (piobairachd) competition. This is the oldest form of music written for the bagpipes and although not the easiest to appreciate, when performed in such an atmospheric setting as this with a backdrop of the loch and its surrounding hills, it was hard not to be moved by it.

Shortly before the hill race there was the tug of war. This was keenly contested but in the end the strongest team and incidentally the smartest dressed, being all clad on the local estate’s tweed were clear winners.

The adults’ hill race was preceded by the junior event run over the same course. It was easy enough to track the runners’ progress up and back down the hill before they reentered the arena to loud cheers and applause. The winner was incredibly quick and I overheard mutterings that there was no way he should have been in the junior event! When the last junior runner was back in the adults race began. The ascent of the hill was step and muddy and the descent reminded me of the cheese filling race which takes place on Gloucestershire and results in a large number of hospitalisations reach year. There were fortunately none on this occasion and we were all soon back on the arena bring greeted by the cheers of the crowd. A great feeling! One of the ‘ghillies’ ran and was awarded the prize of first finisher wearing tweeds!”

Once we all assembled again we decided to head off to Arisaig where we hoped to row the next day. Extensive tooing & froing there whilst we tried to find somewhere to wild camp in the face of full campsites & endless notices telling us we couldn’t camp or park overnight. Eventually, Chris pointed us in the direction of Rhu & Mhairi’s persistence paid off. Right at the end of the road I spied a possible spot with a lovely view over to the small isles. We parked Ice Breaker just a few yards away in a lay-by & finally pitched our tents – only to be attached by a plague of the little blighters. We retreated to a natural ‘kitchen’ nearer the sea where we had another superb meal of salmon & pasta & drank yet more wine. I went off to bed early, but the others sat up late round the camping stoves (no fires this time – as it felt like wild camping was pushing our luck here). We had a leisurely breakfast the next day before heading in to Arisaig.
As the tide was wrong for launching, Mhairi Chris & I decided to head off home. On the way back we stopped in Glencoe under the 2nd sister, they went for a swim, whilst I brewed some coffee & we had a leisurely picnic of left overs. We sat for well over an hour sharing stories of our families & just hanging out on the warm hillside. Brilliant! Our last adventure was a deviation down Glen Orchy – great to get away from the A road & into a winding back road.

Thanks to Max & Calum for towing Ice Breaker, & to all for good company & a great trip.