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Boat launch in Strachur

Upper Loch Fyne’s turn to get in on the skiff action

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By Gordon Neish
Boat launch in Strachur
The skiff will be launched tomorrow

A new boat will be launched from Strachur pontoon tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon and all are welcome to witness the event – and to sign up as crew members.

Over recent years a number of western coastal villages have built skiffs and there were, before the pandemic, a number of inter-village races, regattas and fun days based round skiff racing.

Now, it’s upper Loch Fyne’s turn to get in on the skiff action.

Two years ago keen sailor Dr Martyn Webster, bought a St Ayles skiff kit. He then sold some shares in the boat to cover some of the cost, establishing the Upper Loch Fyne Coastal Rowing Club, which started the build in January 2020.

Club member Derrick Anstee said: “Boatbuilding was an activity some of us had never done before. With guidance from engineer Neil Wilson and the ideal location of a cow shed rented from Neil’s family, the members started to layout the mould of the boat borrowed from the rowing club of Tighnabruaich.

“The teams met twice a week and, with Neil’s guidance, we learned not only how to use some tools we had only vaguely heard of, but laid out the work that had to be done according to the plan.”

The club was awarded a grant of £2,000 from An Suidhe Community Windfarm Trust and was able to buy the fittings, paint and varnish etc to complete the last part of the build, the road trailer, and a boat cover.

Eighteen months after building began, the skiff was completed, its gunwales varnished, the hull and inside painted jet black, and four long oars fashioned.

The vessel will be named Mrs McPhunn after the wife of Driepp murderer ‘half hung Archie McPhunn, who survived the gallows at Inveraray, reviving on a skiff while his ‘body’ was being returned from Inveraray jail by Mrs McPhunn.

The skiff will be launched close to Strachur Pontoon on Saturday, August 7 at 2pm.

It will be rowed to the Creggans Pier and back to test seaworthiness, and crews for future rows and races will be recruited at the launch.

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