loch lomond still as...Last Sunday, I was lucky enough to go skiffing at Loch Lomond as a guest of Cockenzie and Port Seton’s finest, the ‘Boatie Blest’crew. Initially, we numbered 7, so the plan was to take a rescue boat and use it as an overflow vessel, swapping the crew around. As it transpired, the 8am departure proved too much for some and we left as a 5 – just enough for a crew.
We launched at the beach in the picture above, which is at Balmaha. There’s a newish Visitor Centre here, with excellent toilet and shower facilities, as well as lots of leaflets and a very helpful Ranger. There’s a sizeable car park and it’s a short wheel down to the water’s edge. It’s an easy launch and a spot very popular with kayakers.

Once afloat, we rowed straight across to Luss, a distance of around 5 km. We moored ‘Boatie’ on a fallen tree on the beach and headed off to explore on foot. Luss is a bustling village in the summer, but was quite deserted at this time of year. However, that means that you can marvel in bewilderment at the garden ornaments in the quaint, estate workers cottages. Think … gnomes, meerkats, lions, bird feeders, more meerkats, wind chimes, more lions, more gnomes, more meerkats … Hundreds of the things!

The smart skiffers amongst us had packed a lunch box and flask. I’d strongly recommend doing this because nowhere on Luss is particularly cheap and if you row- up an appetite, you’ll be skint in no time.
Fed and watered, we headed back, this time taking in the islands and landing on those we could. We went wallaby hunting at Inchconnachan, but if they were there, they weren’t letting on.

We continued on our journey, arriving back with plenty of light. The car park barriers get locked at 4pm, which was a shame on such a stunning day, with easily 3 hrs more light to be had. There was so much more to explore and this is a weekend trip waiting to happen.  On our return, we spoke again to the Ranger and asked about the possibility of the Loch for a freshwater regatta. The Ranger indicated that they would be delighted to encourage our environmentally vessels onto the water and gave us some helpful information about taking the idea forward.

Loch Lomond can get choppy, but nothing like the sea. The 2 biggest considerations are “can you read a map? “ because trust me, some of the islands look the same and meandering in and out of them, you can become quite disorientated. Secondly, “do you know your port from your starboard, your red from your green and your rules of the road, so to speak?”. There was a lot of motorised traffic using the Loch and it’s helpful to know where you should be with regards to the channels. For one who is clueless about these things, I was reassured by the fact that skiffs can shift pretty quick when they need to and can sit in very shallow water until most things pass. Phew!

Lastly, here’s a wee map of our journey, courtesy of Jon at Port Seton. Thanks to Andrew, Jon, Martine and Stu for a lovely trip.

Tripping to the Isle of May

This week, when some of us should have been working, Andres organized a quick trip out to the most remote of the islands on the Firth of Forth. How could we refuse! The Isle of May was calling.  For years it’s been a tiny dot on the horizon, seen from Portobello beach only on a good day.  This week we were lucky to be able to visit it.

Ian Mills from Crail had sent photos of dolphins to some of the crew – he promised faithfully that we’d see some.

We got the best of days for our trip; the weather was kind, the swell was interesting but not too fierce and a crew from Crail were also pulled away from real life to join us.

There is a lovely little harbour in Crail and the small beach is a beautiful golden colour. We launched in time to catch the last bit of assistance from the incoming tide.

We soon started spotting puffins in big numbers, along with gannets, cormorants and, by the time we got closer to the island, lots of seals. Some real whoppers, but no dolphins. Not one.

We spent a couple of hours on ‘the May’ eating too much picnic (in my case) and getting a great view of some puffins up close. They obviously know there are close circuit TV’s around and weren’t scared when Andres suggested cooking a few.  (I think the webcams are from the North Berwick Sea Bird Centre).

More folk from Crail joined us on their RIB – they brought out the Crail lunch and took some great photos of the boats, as did Ian Mills. It was great to get to know another set of rowers. It’s their local island but they seemed as pleased as we were to get away for the day.

The journey back was livened up by Andres having a quick swim – it was very quick – but he managed to swim under the boat and hop back in with some panache.

The offer of fish & chips on the harbour wall got us focused on the journey home. The outgoing tide had a real pull on it. We were surprised to see just how much the Crail guys were allowing for it – but they were right – aiming for a point far to the east of Crail got us in to the beach, just in time.  Any longer and the outgoing tide leaves their beach a fairly swampy smelly mess!

Many thanks to Andres & Ian Mills from Crail for organizing a great trip – one of my best days of the summer.

MC – My first ever blog post!

Rowporty Fun Regatta

We are inviting our nearest skiffing neighbours (Port Seton, Newhaven, South Queensferry & Mussleburgh) for some fun races on Saturday 27th July.

This is going to be a bit different from the usual regattas as we are going to mix all the rowers from all the clubs up & pick teams at random for a bit of fun & a bit of bonding with our rivals…!

This will be light hearted with no pressure, so if you’ve never tried racing before, why don’t you come along and give it a go. Or if you’ve just returned from the competitive World Champs, you could join in for a warm down.

We hope to have 4-6 boats available for use, and will run the races in heats, semi-finals and finals. The schedule will be confirmed when we know how many rowers are joining us, but we will aim to be racing from 11 am — 3 pm.

We will be putting on a legendary RowPorty Tea & cake stand (please bake us a cake!) for the rowers & spectators, and Fergus is going to be working his magic on the BBQ (weather dependent).

Portsoy Ahoy!

Roughly 30 Rowporty folk (small & large) headed up to the Portsoy traditional boat festival this weekend where we were treated to some exceptionally exciting races!

Despite a pretty miserable forecast, Saturday was pretty perfect for racing – light warm winds and a flat sea (very unusual for Portsoy), and at times, even a bit of sunshine. The race was over a triangular course about 2.5 km long with 2 mass buoy turns and the finish line straight across the harbour – fantastic for spectators.

8 other clubs were racing: Ullapool, Crail, Pittemweem, Queensferry, Port Seton, Anstruther and on home turf at their first EVER regatta: the Portsoy skiffettes in their shocking pink boat, with their pink lifejackets and every thing else! (In case you didn’t know, this boat is an all women build and they’ve done a fantastic job. The only down side is that some of the local men aren’t so happy to be seen in pink…)

To kick start the racing was the men’s open race. Porty were not in a strong position on the start line (2nd from the outside) so it was going to be tough to get water at the 1st buoy…..BUT they pulled hard and did it – first around the buoy ahead of Newburgh. And they managed to keep the lead to the end, despite a few attacks from Ulla on the home straight – so a win for Rowporty, 2nd place wet to Ulla, and third to Newburgh.

The 2nd race was the women’s open. Despite a pretty good challenge from Porty, gold went to the very together Anstruther team, followed by RowPorty in Silver and Ulla in bronze.

50+ was the 3rd race of the day yet our crew was a 60+ one. They were looking very tidy rowing together. Yet some more youthful 50 year olds pipped them to the post – in a very exciting finish Anstruther came 1st by less than a meter (!!) followed by a slightly disgruntled Ullapool team who had had the lead the whole race!

The next race was the 35+ mixed, and for this, gold went to a solid looking RowPorty team followed by Crail then Ulla. Crail are a newer club, but looking good and one to watch out for…

The men’s 35+ followed this. Short of men, Porty had Roisin on stroke. It looked like a very promising race for our team as they rounded the first buoy first, keeping a good lead round the 2nd buoy… but then Ulla (who were quite a few boat lengths behind) fought back on the final leg, pushing our team to the limit, and in another exciting finish, Ulla took gold by no more than 10 inches!!!

The last race on the Saturday was the ladies 35+. This was the most exciting skiff race I think I’ve ever seen. There were 8 entrants, and at the 1st buoy (1 km from the start line) 6 of them were absolutely level pegging: Port Seton, Anstruther, Ulla, Crail, Newburgh and Porty on the outside.

Porty came out of the turn last of the bunch (6th) but the bunch more or less stayed together over the next leg. At the next turn I think the order was something like: Ulla, Antruther, Crail, Newburgh, Porty, Port Seton… then there was a fantastic sprint to the finish with 4 boats entering the harbour together side by side (thank goodness it was wide enough!). 1st place went to Ulla, very closely followed by Porty in 2nd place, and probably ½ a meter behind, 3rd place went to Antruther, a second after which Newburgh crossed the line in 4th, followed by Crail a couple of seconds later in 5th. What a race!

Luckily for the nerves, that was the end of Saturday’s racing. Post racing we did a bit of plodding and attempted some fishing outside the harbour with all the kids and just managed to get in before the heavens opened with an almighty downpour.

Luckily this didn’t last long, and after a bit of socialising with other skiffies in the tattie shed, the Porty bunch had a bonfire on the beach well into the evening.

On Sunday the wind had changed direction (NW) and the sea had picked up. The novice races went ahead which was a short sprint (400 m) from the harbour, out round a buoy, and back again – doesn’t sound like a lot, but conditions were challenging to say the least, with huge lumpy waves. Not having a full team, we teamed up with Queensferry to create a QueensPorty team. The races were in heats. Our first was against Ullapool – it was close, but QueensPorty took it and were through to the semifinals. In the semi’s QueensPorty were up against Newburgh. Newburgh won this one and went through to the finals against Pittenweem, which Newburgh won.

The rest of the races on the Sunday were cancelled due to worsening sea conditions.

Despite this all RowPorty members seemed to have had a grand old time – the organisation of the racing was faultless, everything ran smoothly to time, and there was a nice relaxed atmosphere. Many folk enjoyed a good look around the rest of the festival – the boats, the craft, the food – what more could you want?!….Then to top it all off, at the awards ceremony, after the points had been added up, RowPorty came away with the trophy prize for points – the cherry on the cake!

Thanks to everyone for coming and making the event so successful for our club.

Ice Breaker’s Loch Lomond Day Trip

A new day trip for Ice Breaker

Good Friday was a day when several of us were free to organise a longer row. Originally we’d planned to try this on the Forth after the regular Friday session, but after cancellation after cancellation in Portobello due to bad weather and a forecast that didn’t look hopeful we changed tack, decided to be more adventurous and head inland somewhere completely new.

Rowporty has always engendered the spirit of adventure, and it was brilliant to again be thinking about where we could take the boat for a fantastic day out. An hour or so on the Forth is great, but as we all know there are so many more places to explore. Initially we had planned to try Loch Tay, but then switched (thanks to Maddy’s research skills) to Loch Lomond as the sun was meant to shine for longer there and launching looked really straightforward.

This meant heading off early, so we first needed to check with those who had signed up for the regular Friday morning session, to make sure they felt alright about potentially missing an hour on the water in Portobello. Many thanks to all those who expressed their support and enthusiasm for our boat to try something new.


After fixing a light on the blue trailer (it still needs a mudguard re-attached but we didn’t have the right equipment to do that and were comfortable that it was roadworthy) we loaded the boat on Thursday evening and on Friday morning were at the yard by 7.30am to hitch-up and set off for Loch Lomond. Apart from the oars, lifejackets and cushions we also took a VHF, a laminated map of the loch, GPS, bailers, fenders, the launching trolleys and spare rope. There is a spare tyre for the trailer already lashed on.


Balloch is at the southern end of Loch Lomond and is 70-80 miles from Portobello (depending on which route you take). On the way there we drove through Glasgow on the M8, then took the A814 through Clydebank and Dumbarton and onto the A82 up to Balloch. On approach to Balloch, if you turn right at the roundabout onto the A811 at Balloch, left onto Old Luss Road, straight through the roundabout onto Ben Lomond Way you just need to look for the ‘Maid of the Loch’ paddle steamer, and access to the water from there couldn’t be easier – there is secure parking, a jetty and concrete slipway. The building next to the jetty is the headquarters of the water-borne ranger service where you register your use of the Loch, leave a contact phone number and can use very nice toilets! It is free to launch with the trolleys, you only pay if you use a vehicle. It was very quiet when we were there, probably on a warmer weekend it would be busier.



Once on the water (all with perfectly dry feet and legs thanks to the jetty) we headed into the wind (which was coming down the Loch from the NE) and travelled to the west side of the largest island (Inchmurrin).


Once out into the widest part of the loch (~4 miles across) the views were truly stunning – huge snow-capped peaks all around in the distance, including Ben Lomond to the north.


We rowed past one tiny island (Inchgalbraith) which has the remains of a 15th century castle hidden amongst the trees.


We then passed through this gorgeous and very sheltered little strait between Inchtavannach to the west, and Inchmoan & Inchhconnachan to the east.


After 2 or 3 hours of fairly steady rowing, taking turns to rest, cox or change rowing position every half an hour or so, we reached Luss (on the west bank), which is about 7 miles north of our launch, and then headed back towards the east side of Inchmurran.

We rowed into a bit more chop on the next stage, however, we were spurred on as another advantage of Loch Lomond is that Inchmurrin is an inhabited island with a hotel/bar on the south east side serving hot food and drinks. (Open every day except Tuesday). Conveniently there is another jetty right below the hotel at which we moored before relaxing next to a wood-burning stove for lunch. There are of course more toilets here too.



Having launched just after 10am we returned to the Balloch slipway just after 4pm to put the boat back on the trailer, tie her down and drive back to Porty. On the return journey we tried a different route going south over the Erskine bridge (A898 > M898) then onto the M8 back towards Glasgow which meant we were on motorway most of the way – this made it a bit quicker (although longer by distance) and more straightforward with the trailer so would recommend this route (link below).,+Edinburgh,+EH15+1HD&hl=en&ll=55.799737,-3.831482&spn=0.954093,1.656189&sll=55.953696,-3.11261&sspn=0.007424,0.012939&geocode=FX2fVgMdLPC5_yHkIfCVMTzKUynHp-65NVOISDHkIfCVMTzKUw%3BFSDJVQMdXoHQ_ynHMlOIsbmHSDEW6hvnQynUgg&t=h&mra=ls&z=9


This trip is well worth repeating. We saw ducks, swans, goats and sheep but there is a huge range of wildlife worth looking out for including capercaillie, osprey, deer, otter and wallabies (yes, really!). The loch stretches another 15 miles or so further north of where we reached (although much narrower up there), and it has dozens of islands some with sandy beaches, ancient trees, historic sites and narrow creeks to explore on a longer warmer day. Other water users we saw included a canoeist with his dog, a water plane, a group of kayakers and a couple of jetskis but the space is vast and the amount of open water was exhilarating.

Patsy has a copy of the map we used and any of us would be very happy to answer questions if other folk would like to try it. It would be great to try taking both boats one day when the weather is a bit warmer. Certainly I’d be happy to lead a return trip for others to enjoy a fantastic day out.

Sally, Roisin, Maddy, Claire, Nick J, Dan.

Yo Ho Ho – On board the good ship Glenlee

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who came to the Ullapool World’s Fundraising Ceilidh in Glasgow last Saturday, and for making it a very sociable and fun evening.

Thanks firstly to Ali for really getting behind the event, pushing us in to going and organising the splendid minibus and driver to get us there and back safely. Her fears that they would send us a clapped out jalopy were unfounded and we were able to spread ourselves out in comfort as they provided a modern 28-seater instead of the 19-seater we had booked.

glenleeSome people gathered in the Espy for a pre-departure drink and/or bite to eat and everyone arrived at the Town Hall in good time to leave around 6.15pm. The journey through was uneventful though there was the usual wet and snowfall around Harthill (is it always raining there?)! We arrived at Riverside on the Clyde and walked along the pathway to the Tall Ship, stopping briefly for a group photo (still waiting to see it Andres!). Our first glimpse of the Glenlee was through the gentle Glasgow rain and sleet: she looked a bit of a lonely spectre with her three masts reaching up and disappearing into the dreich night sky. But it was exciting to cross the gangway and arrive on board this amazing ship that has been around the globe four times in her lifetime

We were greeted by Andrew from Port Seton and made our way down to the ‘Tween’ deck where the Ceilidh was being held. There were Skiffers already making merry from Anstruther, Royal West, Port Seton, North Berwick and others including two members from Troon who have just completed their first boat. As we made our way along the deck to find ourselves a table to gather round, those of us who had already had a drink, and those of us who had not, began to wonder if more drinking and dancing on a ship was a good idea. We all felt a bit giddy and try as we might, couldn’t keep ourselves walking in a straight line! It became apparent very quickly that the flooring on the deck was completely uneven and had a lovely camber that slewed you sideways as you walked its length. Well, nothing for it but to start drinking and dancing!

The Ceilidh Band was great and everyone got into the dancing straight away. As the night went on the dancing got faster and wilder and our steps got shorter and messier! At the interval we had a raffle and there was a game to win a bottle of whisky. Cue the interval ‘disco’ which sounds brought out the inner wannabe dance-floor divas in us all and, just to give us an authentic disco-feel, Barbara kindly provided a group of us lassies with a handbag to dance around!

Glenlee_StramashThe Ceilidh Band returned for the last hour and by now we were all flying round the floor. One of the funniest dances to watch was the Flying Scotsman. I don’t know whether Jude Nixon looked more terrified or Nick Finnis more confused when they had to lead off, but it kept those of us who sat it out in stitches. The Grand Finale was the Orcadian Strip the Willow and I think everyone joined in for this. It was quite a feat to get from one end of the ship to the other, without falling over and manage to stay with your partner — though I think I started off being a laddie and ended up being a lassie!

We had to reach our Carriage before midnight so made a hasty retreat as soon as the last Willow Strippers stopped swirling. A quick count on board to make sure we hadn’t left anyone behind and we were off — well almost. Andres managed to set the alarm off from the back seat — there’s always one isn’t there? Problem sorted in a moment and we headed home. Apart from a diversion for roadworks that took us THROUGH Harthill — those who were asleep — you didn’t miss anything, we had a safe journey back to Porty. A sleepy and tired but happy crew piled out at the Town Hall around 1.30am — glad to have gone and glad to be back.

My prizes for the evening go to Nik Savage (now, even more famous) for some rather slick Michael-Jackson-type dance floor moves; Kay Fairnie for fabulous skirt; MC Somers for groovy and uninhibited dancing, Barbara Middleton for astonishing shoes; Nick Finnis for bewildered expression and Helena Rodnight for getting there :)

We didn’t get a final tally but at the interval we had raised around £500. A very good night!


Sweet taste of Victory – Fresh Water Regatta

Eighteen hardy rowers from RowPorty made the 74 mile journey to the Castle Semple Loch at Lochwinnoch, setting off before dawn on Saturday 27th Oct, for the last regatta of the season.

The frost gave way to a lovely calm sunny day, which lasted until the end of racing. The regatta was part of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA) and supported locally by Royal West rowing club and the Castle Semple Loch, which have great facilities (cafe, changing rooms, club house, wide concrete ramp for launching the boats, plenty of parking for trailers and cars).

A total of 8 teams took part: Achiltibuie, Anstruther, Crail, Cumbrae, Pittenweem, Port Seton, RowPorty and Royal West; a fine mix of new and more established clubs.

As Ali reported we had a good day on the water:

The 3klm was first on the menu, in which our mixed killer team, coxed by Peter A. came second to Achiltibuie, but not by much. The fixed oars did seem to give us a more power without losing power through sliding oars etc.

The Men’s and Women’s Open races were run in heats and we made it through to the finals coming second to Anstruther in the womens (beating Achiltibuie!) coxed by Margaret and coming second in the mens to Achiltibuie (coxed by Rosie in the first heat and Sean in the final); Achiltibuie did come from so far away that it was only fair really!

The Golden Ladies, coxed by Ali, smashed their opponents picking up the only gold medals for RowPorty on the day.  They looked very pleased with themselves!

Our beloved Ancient Mariners did valiantly to take bronze against a number of other teams that were “over 50’s”, whereas our lads mostly qualify for an “over 60’s” team, so respect to the boys.

Our Novices or Newbies also developed a taste for victory coming first in their heat and taking Silver on the final.

We hope they are now truly bitten by the skiffing bug and we will see them rowing frequently and getting involved with the club at every level (i.e. at the pub).x

We were not able to put in a youth team this time; as we all know, trying to get teenagers to commit to turn up for a row is like herding cats in the dark, so we hope to have more luck with this in future.  The winning team from Crail had 10 years olds in their team, who hardly stuck out above the gunnels, but rowed their wee socks off.  They did have some very light, bought oars, something for us to consider.

It was great to see a range of people who do not always row together to be able to jump into the boat and within a few minutes were rowing like they had done so for years.  There were many different people who coxed and did a grand job of it.  Although we have a large club and it may seem, at times, that we never row with the same people, it does mean that we have a wide pool of people that row regularly and can take anyone on J.

Although it was sunny and lovely, the green Rowporty t-shirts require the wearer to be hardy or hypothermic in order to be able to display the clubs colours.  It might be time to design and order some new club wear, such as a sweatshirt/fleece or jackets, maybe woolly hats and some caps which members could buy at cost.

Ali mentioned Fergus’s portable BBQ, which worked very well and kept everyone fed between races.  Many thanks chef extraordinaire, hope you did not end up out of pocket.

The few RowPorty kids that were dragged to this event did a great job walking and looking after the many dogs that travel to these events with the folk from Anstruther, not to mention our own Rosie with Murphy.

The scoring system employed on the day meant that, because we entered every racing category coming second or third, it meant that we collected more points than Achiltibuie (who won the men’s open, the mixed open and the men’s veterans, but they failed to qualify for the women’s open final and did not have a team in the Novices race) making us the overall winner on the day.  To our surprise we were presented with the Gallacher Heath Sheild, which will be inscribed with RowPorty 2012 (like the Ullapool Shield carries the RowPorty 2011 inscription J).

The overriding memory of the event was that it was a relaxed day, with a bunch of lovely folk from our community who were grateful for the weather, the facilities and the ability to take part, equally.

Thanks again to all of you who made this possible.


Ice Breaker’s London Holiday

The Great River Race 2012

Seven intrepid travellers (Kay, Bill, Barbara, Nik, Frances, Andres and Ice Breaker) travelled to London to take part in the 25th Great River Race. We were blessed with sunny warm weather and a river full of rowing boats of every kind.

The drive to London took 9 hours, we set off at 06:00 on Friday morning from Portobello and arrived at the Milwall slip, on the Isle of Dogs, East London, at around 15:00.

After unloading the boat on the slip we drove for 2 hours through London’s Friday rush hour traffic to the campsite and the race finish-line, Ham, SW London. We got through the town unscathed but our friends from Achilitibuie had their trailer rammed from behind by a local 4×4.

North Berwick, which had both boats in London, paid the £70 per boat towage fee, which means they were able to drive straight to the campsite and get their boats towed down the river to the start line on Saturday morning. They stepped into their boat off the pontoon while we had to wade through the soft London mud!

After setting the tents up on Friday it was not long before we found a bar and band to go with our allocation of hog roast. It was not long after that we crawled into our sleeping bags.

On Saturday breakfast was served between 04:30 and 06:30! The bus left the campsite at 06:30 to take us through London to the start line, where our boat waited excitedly. The sun rose as we crossed Westminster Bridge revealing a flat Thames river reflecting Westminster and Big Ben framed against a blue sky. It looked very promising indeed.

After registration we launched at around 09:15, but as our start time was not until 11:10, we decided to row down river and across to Greenwich to see the Cutty Sark. We then had time to drift upriver, on the flooding tide, to the 5min waiting area. This was quite a busy place with many boats drifting around as crews got themselves sorted. Our start went off with little incident and we quickly overtook a number of small craft, bathtubs and the like!

Due to a mix up at registration, we were listed as an Acorn skiff, which sounds rather sweet, but it meant we started 8 min ahead of Achiltibuie and the 2 North Berwick Skiffs. You can imagine the stick we got for this bit of unintentional “cheating” (it did mean we had more time to complete the course before the tide turned!). We discussed this with the organisers but it was not possible to change our start time, so we were given an 8 min “penalty” added to our finishing time, which seemed fair.

Despite the 8min advantage Achiltibuie overtook us just after Tower Bridge and finished the race 30 min ahead of us! In fact they came second overall in the mixed category, beating many long boats and most of the Gigs, so they really did the St Ayles skiff community proud. They did however go to bed much earlier than us :)

Tower Bridge looked fantastic with loads of people cheering us on. We had our Viking hat on, it felt good returning to this stretch of water after so many centuries!!

The river was deceptively flat at the beginning of the race, but as soon as we passed under Tower Bridge and turned into the wind we found a considerable chop coupled with the wake of passing craft; we took some water over the bow making Bill a bit damp. Having a passenger in the bow and lots of (too much) gear, such as anchors, dry bags etc, made the boat sit bow heavy.

In future it would be desirable to place any gear, including anchors etc along the length of the bloat, and pick a light passenger (i.e. a child!). If really choppy the passenger should also move down the boat and sit next to the stroke.

We split the boat into 2 groups, 3 at the cox end and 3 at the bow end; this enabled us all to get a row. Every 30 min we changed position, but making sure we always kept 2 oars going at all times. Cox, Stroke and No. 3 swapped around while bow and No. 2 kept rowing, then the passenger on bow swapped with the person rowing on bow or No. 2 while Stroke and No. 3 continued to row.

There was a leisure barge taking supporters and we enjoyed the support and cheering from that boat as we approached the last few bridges. There are 28 bridges to go under, which made it spectator friendly. We enjoyed being overtaken, sometimes under the bridges, by the long boats (6 oars), the whale boats (8 oars) and the Dragon Boats (16 paddles).

The race is a stern chase, so the slowest boats get to go first and every minute thereafter a load of faster boats would start. We managed quite a lot of overtaking, but there were many more which overtook us!

In the end we came 183rd out of 320 boats; we did it in 3:20min, so with the additional 8 minutes “handicap” our official time was 3:28min. We came 3rd in the St Ayle skiffs (out of 4!), but we were on cruise mode rather than race mode. So it should be quite easy for future Rowporty crews to break our “record”.

Getting the boats out of the water is quite chaotic. The temptation is to head for the beer tent, which we did, but it would be worth taking the launching trolleys to make recovery easier and by-pass the trailer rammy at the end. The larger boats were recovered with the use of a crane, which adds complexity to the recovery of smaller boats like ours.

The return journey took 9 hrs to Edinburgh. We did exactly 900 miles in total, at a cost of around £200 for fuel. The total cost of the entry fee, camping, food, the bus and fuel was £750, or £125 per person based on 6 people sharing the costs; this does not include the cost of one person return train travel to London. This is not a cheap trip and future crews probably should also be self-funding as the club could not afford to pay this sort of money for 6 to go away and row.

If we were to take both boats next time, we should consider having both boats on one trailer, which would reduce the need for 2 towing vehicles. The green trailer behaved impeccably and could be adapted to take the 2 boats.

In conclusion, it was a very special row, it was amazing how quickly three and a half hours of rowing can pass when there is so much to take in! You could also say “it’s a bloody long way to go for a row” :)