Leven boat building expert heads to the States

Alec Jordan, from Leven, builder of a prototype St Ayles Skiff of a type being constructed at the Scottish Fisheries museum in Anstruther.
Alec Jordan, from Leven, builder of a prototype St Ayles Skiff of a type being constructed at the Scottish Fisheries museum in Anstruther.

A LEVEN-based boat designer and builder has been invited to the USA to help recreate an historic vessel last used in the 1800s.

Alec Jordan, of Jordan Boats, is a figurehead of the resurgence in coastal rowing popularity off Fife’s shores, with his St Ayles skiff boat design used by competitors.

After hearing of Alec’s boat-building skills, he was contacted by the Heritage Coast Sailing and Rowing group in the US, whose aim it is to encourage the preservation of historic regional boat designs.

The group will soon begin the process of building a 23-foot Mackinaw boat, named the Heritage 23, in East Tawas which it hopes to race.

Alec told the Mail: “I’m really looking forward to it, it’s been a while since I’ve been out there.

“They got in touch with me after hearing about the St Ayles skiff and invited me over to their small town of around 4000 people to help them.

“This is a Leven business making it on the other side of the world really.”

Mackinaw boats are historic vessels developed in the upper Great Lakes region, a few hundred kilometres from Detroit.

They were used mainly as fishing boats or for short-haul transportation of freight and people, and were said to be the merger of Native American canoe building skill and European carpentry skill.

The group commissioned Alec to carry out design and construction updates to take advantage of modern methods of boat building, using marine plywood and resins and to make it suitable for kit building.

David Wentworth, from the US group, said: “The organisation was patterned after the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association.

“Scottish Coastal Rowing uses the St Ayles skiff as the ‘one-design’ class for the regattas and events it conducts each year.”

Inaugurated only two years ago, 25 skiffs have already been launched, with another 29 under construction.

Seven are expected to be launched in the next month for the new regatta season.

Alec left for the States on Saturday and will be in East Tawas for two weeks helping with the first boat.

Information about coastal rowing in Scotland can be found at www.scottishcoastalrowing.org.