What a great day we’ve had. The prototype St. Ayles Skiff, Chris O‘Kinnaird, was kindly brought down to Eyemouth by Alec Jordan. It was a ...
Another beautiful, sunny day. And lots of crew: enough, in fact, to launch both skiffs for the first time this year. Lots of crew, but not much water, so it was a beach launch. Some of us discovered how short our wellingtons are.
The newly refurbished oars positively gleamed in the sunlight. Unfortunately, a couple of the new oars aren’t quite as straight and true as when they were first made (which was probably in the last century). Think of a banana and you’ll get the general idea. So there was a certain amount of muttering in the ranks. They will therefore be taken back to the Coble House and subjected to some fine tuning (the oars, not the crew).
Having retrieved the boats, we had a round of coffee and hot cross buns, courtesy of Fiona. Very seasonal.
And now to dry out my boots …
Tuesday evening rowing has restarted. New faces again tonight. Breaking surf in the bay so the skiff was launched from the slip at the top of the harbour.
Four short trips, mainly to help the newcomers. Kate, who as far as I know has never sat in a rowing boat before, seemed to manage all right. She caught a couple of minor crabs (crablets?), but thoroughly enjoyed herself.
The second skiff should be ready to launch this week.
The increasing headcount on Saturday mornings makes it likely that we will want to have both skiffs in the water during the summer. This means that we need another set of oars.
Mick and Oliver led a recent turnout of the sail loft to see what was stored up there. A human chain handed down a selection of interesting material, not including the dead bats, mummified corpses of exhausted rowers & etc. It was a bit like turning out a woman’s handbag, or emptying the Tardis: there was clearly more material laid out on the ground than the entire cubic capacity of the sail loft. Amongst the objets de curiosité were, miraculously, five oars, more or less suitable for purpose.
This week’s extracurricular activities have therefore focused on renovating these ancient heirlooms. They have clearly enjoyed a chequered past, since the junction between the loom and the shaft (i.e. the part that rests on the gunwale) has had a great bite taken out of it, presumably so that some kind of shackle could be used to connect it to the thole pin.
These are traditionally-built oars, each hewn from a substantial plank of ash (at least, it looks like ash to me). So to scarph in a replacement for the long-gone shackle plates requires some proper boat-building. Not only was Mick equal to the task, but he was also able to produce — like a conjuror producing a rabbit from a hat — a piece of well-seasoned ash of exactly the right dimensions. The dovetails down the side made it look suspiciously like the drawer front from his bedroom chest of drawers, so we may be hearing from Her Indoors in due course. He claimed it fell off the back of a lorry.
In the photo you can see the scarphed-in pieces (behind the drawknife) and also the extended handles. Previously the oars were made to be rowed comfortably by a one-handed dwarf, whereas those of us of average build (not to mention two hands) need a much longer handle.
Two down, two to go. Then sanding and varnishing. And — perhaps — leather sleeves.
Rather cold and wintry today (high pressure weather). Nonetheless, the boat was launched and retrieved from the beach, with a crew changeover on the new harbour pontoon.
After that, coffee … !
Our AGM, which was held on 4th March, was well attended. A total of 24 people turned up to mark a successful 2013 and plan for 2014. A number of special events were discussed. These included:
Another lovely day! Summer seems to have arrived (March?). Who needs a holiday in the Caribbean when you can row off the beach in Eyemouth? Mind you, despite the sunshine, thermal underwear is still the order of the day.
Launching from the beach-
Notwithstanding the inclement (or not very clement) conditions this morning, lots of people turned up to row. There were also some new faces — all very encouraging, given that the boating season hasn’t properly begun yet. After the greybeards inspected the possible launching sites, and with the wind building, it was eventually agreed that discretion was the better part of valour. So we retired to our favourite haunt for coffee.
Fired up by the injection of caffeine, we then embarked on one of the annual maintenance chores: the checking of the lifejackets. This is an arcane ritual, whose details are known only to a select few: think of the hunting of the snark.
The Coble House contains — as well as two skiffs — a grand total of 21 lifejackets. These are not items which have previously entered my consciousness to any significant extent. Like most people, I suspect, I think of a lifejacket only as something you put on before getting into the boat and take off again afterwards. Nonetheless, as essential safety equipment, they require annual inspection by an approved examiner.
Eight of lifejackets, in transpired, had reached the end of their useful life and they were therefore retired on the spot. The remainder were all formally inspected, repacked and returned to service. Many thanks to Ian for this!
(Note to the Treasurer: next year they are likely to need replacement gas cylinders).
The first day of spring. Bright sunshine and balmy seas. Can this be Britain?
Lots of people turned up to row this morning, including some new faces. We launched Sea Breeze from the beach on an incoming tide. Had a brief skirmish with our old sparring partner, the Eyemouth Lifeboat — yes, Bing, we really do try and keep out of your way. Crew changeover on the beach and out for more rowing.