“Yes! Many Congratulations!”
What a great achievement was celebrated on Saturday.
The seed that had been sown finally germinated in February 2018.
On the cold dark days of the new year preparatory work began.
The workbench constructed then has proved invaluable.
Next the frame and the kit for the St Ayles Skiff was delivered to the Noust.
First the frame had to be cleaned and prepared for its vital role.
Then plank by plank the skiff began to to take shape.
Many within the community were involved.
A few had previous experience of boat building.
Others had no previous experience but were prepared to learn.
Yet others were prepared to take on some of the less technical challenges.
And throughout the build several knew the vital importance of cakes and biscuits.
As the work continued relentlessly various visitors came to inspect the progress.
At times the Noust could be very busy with builders and visitors.
Doctor John was on hand as a knowledgeable guide.
There have been various milestones along the way.
The laying down of the first plank on the frame.
The final plank put in place.
The skiff being turned.
Oars had to be crafted.
The keel laminated and glued on.
There are no nails – just expoy glue holding it together,
This skiff may have taken shape but much remained to be completed.
In early August the skiff made its first regal public appearance.
It was the star attraction at the Tiree Regatta at Gott Bay.
By this time the skiff had its colours and name.
‘Gille-Brìghde’ – the Oyster Catcher.
So to launch day – Saturday the 1st of September.
The mist that had crept over the island in the morning rolled back.
Under blue sky Tiree’s skiff took centre stage at the Old Harbour Scarinish.
A large crowd was present to witness this historic occasion for the island.
The proceedings began with Dr John giving a brief history of the project.
Next to address the crowd was Dr Mike.
He had planted the seed.
One of the skilled boat builders Aalasdair spoke on behalf of the team.
Two young people with the Gaelic named the skiff.
God was thanked and his blessing sought.
Next the skiff was ceremonially handed over to the Maritime Trust
Some cold tea (believe that or not) was poured over the varnished bow.
The skiff was then taken down to the water’s edge for the momentous launch.
It was a thrilling moment and more.
The boat was carefully launched into the water.
And most important the glue held – she was watertight.
DA was given a piggyback and placed in the cox’s seat.
Then the four members of the rowing team clambered on board.
And to the sound of the bagpipes from the pier the skiff was rowed out to sea.
Such was the excitement and jubilation that she made a second trip.
There was a just sense of pride in the work done.
This was indeed real craftsmanship.
It was suggested that this post should be title, ‘Sink or Swim’.
Was there ever any doubt the epoxy glue would not hold?
Was there ever any doubt the bung was not tight?
She was indeed well built by real craftspeople.
Everyone was invited to the Scarinish Hotel for soup and sandwiches.
It was a timely opportunity to share great memories.
This project was indeed a real team effort.
This is ‘Life-on-Tiree’.