In this latest article we will learn a little more about our fellow members through the topic of skills. In recent months we sadly lost the father of our pastime and man of incredible boat design and build skills, Ian Oughtred. Ian created over 120 designs of traditionally styled amateur built boats whilst also being an accomplished sailor. Publishing his first boat design in 1967, he then went on to an incredible life demonstrating his awesome skills including the Scottish inspired Caledonia Yawl in the late 80s to the St Ayles Skiff in 2009. An inspirational and skilled individual worthy of further reading.

Whilst we would argue that our club actually needs many different types and levels of skills, all of which are greatly appreciated, this article will primarily focus on the big wooden chariots that we create, love and care for.

Just a few years before our teenage crafts came into existence, humans set out on the water for more basic needs. The earliest known craft is the Pesse canoe which is around 10,000 years old and currently residing in a Dutch museum. This primitive craft was carved from a single Scots pine and, when found, experts argued it would never work. Before any of our “skilled boat builders” get an idea, it has already been built, tested and found to work perfectly well.

It would be remiss of this article not to acknowledge the relatively more recent boat building skills in Scotland where the term “Clyde built” became synonymous with quality, innovation and great ships like Queen Mary, QE2, Comet, Lusitania and Glen Sannox. Let’s not go there! Our ship building heritage may have been a bit blunted but it was incredible at one point despite its untimely demise.

The generals skills and trades associated with boat building may be diminishing but with the likes of the late Ian Oughtred and organisations like The Scottish Boat Building School within the Scottish Maritime Museum, they won’t be forgotten. Previous articles have explored tradition, community and leadership and its great to think of the success of coastal rowing and “time in the shed” contributing to this.

We have heard from a number of members in previous articles on their Rowing Dream Team for a slow row around Lady Isle. The purpose of these is simply to learn a little more about our fellow rowers and encourage wider club activities.

The next member we will hear from is Phil Davenport. Phil has been a member for 2 years although has been messing about on the water and “building death-trap rafts on the Cromarty Firth” since he was a schoolboy. He clearly has always had a taste for the water moving from competitive dinghy sailing through to coastal sailing both here and abroad. I suspect his adventures in the Turkish Aegean will have a few more tales than his adventures from Largs.

Phil’s companions on his Lady Isle trip are an eclectic bunch and I suspect, will quickly cause a stir before they even leave the slip. Phil has elected to take the Cox seat and I suspect so he can sit and watch the adventure unfold. In stroke is 50s model Betty Page who, I like to assume is for her later missionary work, just in case they find any inhabitants on Lady Isle. I may be wrong on that one! To support them and ensure they don’t starve, Phil has selected Nigella Lawson for seat 3. I bet the packed lunch will be fabulous! The sensational Alex Harvie is providing the entertainment singing “The Tomahawk kid” as they head for Lady Isle. There wasn’t any space for Captain Dan or Billy Bones though. To complete this “interesting” bunch of rowers we have Dave Courtney “celebrity gangster” in bow to sort out any disputes with the Arran ferry.

Phil’s Dream Team Rowers
StrokeBetty Page
3Nigella Lawson
2Alex Harvie
BowDave Courtney

Phil has spent the past months in the chicken shed re-polishing his “time served joiner” skills which has been fabulous for the club. He has continued to develop his experience into the boatie world and “enjoys working with unskilled volunteers willing to learn”. Just put “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” on the playlist and watch those Sheffield Steel chisels carve their magic. “Even a decent brush is a great piece of kit and a desire to use it” says Phil so get yourself along to one of the boat building and maintenance sessions.

Our next member to hear from is Morag Kemp who has been a member of TCRC since the launching of Marr Voyager in late 2011.

Morag’s crew is another “enlightening” selection which I think constitutes yet another interesting crew. Morag has reserved the Cox’s seat so she can head for choppy waters and experience the “challenge and unpredictability of the sea and the exhilaration and challenges it brings”.  All becomes clearer though when selecting stroke she picks Omar Sharif so she can “stare into the dark pools of his eyes and lose myself”. Perhaps in common with Phil’s stroke selection, the truth will out! Some of our members may wish to utilise Google to understand her choice of this fabulous actor, and his eyes apparently. In position three is Ellen MacArthur, hugely successful solo long-distance record breaking yachtswoman. Sharing the rowing duties with Ellen is Dame Katherine Granger, multi Olympic medal winning rower in seat two. I suspect these two will do all the rowing whilst Omar hypnotises Morag with tales of Lawrence of Arabia and those eyes. In bow Morag has selected Welsh bass-baritone Opera and concert singer, Sir Bryn Terfel “whose rich smooth singing voice would charm even the seals on Lady Isle”.

Morag’s Dream Team Rowers
StrokeOmar Sharif
3Ellen MacArthur
2Katherine Granger
BowBryn Terfel

Morag would argue that she “has no skills of any importance other than the fact that I just love rowing” but I think we all know that’s not true. Morag’s passion quickly led to “taking care of the boats which led in turn, to maintenance work and a gradual initiation from watching the skill and workmanship of those building the boats to hands on, albeit in a general capacity”. Morag is an great ambassador of TCRC through rowing, coxing, building, maintaining and her positive attitude. A multi skilled member.

The last member we will hear from in this article is Ray Dodd. Ray joined the club around 2013. Ray, like many other club members, has been on the water since schooldays where he learned to canoe and sail. “We built our own Enterprise dinghies and canoes in the technical department. We had a boathouse/dinghy park in Balloch Park, so I learned to sail and canoe on Loch Lomond almost 60 years ago.” Ray is at his happiest when “making sawdust”, and using his hands to “contribute something to the club and the community”.

Ray recalls his adventures back into boat building when at the formation of the Scottish Boat Building School, he and Bill Davies were involved in building the “Pride of Prestwick” in conjunction with a Duke of Edinburgh group. Easily convinced by Vince to come along to TCRC he hasn’t looked back with numerous boat builds under his tool belt. These are the guys Ray has selected for his dream team in recognition of this and the welcome by other members like Morag. Hope they all like listening to Neil Young though as that’s Ray’s choice of music for the trip.

Ray’s Dream Team Rowers
StrokeVince McWhirter
3Bill Davies
2Jim Palmer
BowMorag Kemp

Ray is keen for more people to “come along and learn new skills” of boat building work. ”They will be with you for life” and come in handy with all that work around the house.

So if you want to really understand more about our fantastic boats then why not get involved in the boat maintenance work that goes on every year.  Remember as Phil said, even willing use of a broom contributes to the teamwork.

It’s a great way of really getting to know the sometimes oddly named parts of our skiffs. Not that when Adrian asks you to “paint the hog” is in anyway confusing when standing in a chicken shed and their isn’t a piggy in sight!

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