Kennoway family’s journey up the Clyde with Games Flotilla

Charlie Finlay, Billy, Claire Finlay and Mark Finlay at the Commonwealth Flotilla aboard their boat Scallywag
Charlie Finlay, Billy, Claire Finlay and Mark Finlay at the Commonwealth Flotilla aboard their boat Scallywag

A Kennoway family joined hundreds of other boat enthusiasts as they took part in the Commonwealth Flotilla last month.

The Finlay family sailed its boat the Scallywag up the Clyde alongside 249 other vessels as part of the biggest Flotilla festival ever to be seen in Glasgow’s history.

But they nearly didn’t make it to the celebrations after encountering a number of problems on the way.

After hearing about the Flotilla at the beginning of the year, mum Dorothy Finlay signed them up to take part straight away. They were just one of 250 boats chosen to take part.

Their boat, the Scallywag, is a Fairey Marine Atalanta, one of only 186 made in the UK during the 1950s.

Sitting at 26 feet long, she was designed as a smaller replica to a type of lifeboat created during the war to be dropped from aircrafts into the sea, and is said to be unsinkable!

Skipper Charlie Finlay bought the boat in 2004 and spent a year lovingly restoring it to its former glory with beautiful mahognay inside and out as well as restoring the mast, boom and all of the metal features.

Although their journey to Glasgow started off well with Charlie and friend Billy Shields taking Scallywag up the Forth and into the river Carron where the Forth meets the Forth and Clyde Canal, they were in for trouble as the joined the canal.

After meeting up with Dorothy and daughter Claire at Auchinstarry marina, they headed for Glasgow, but encountered both a damaged lock and a lock which had a problem with its pump, as well as a swollen bridge due to the intense heat.

After being delayed overnight, they were joined by sister Sarah, brother Mark, gran Margaret Finlay and Claire’s fiance Stephen and eventually got going, joining the end of the Flotilla in the nick of 

Charlie said: “We joined the Flotilla just in time at Bowling alongside about seven other boats who had also been delayed - the sailors passing seemed very happy to see us. We received lots of honks and waves!”

Tens of thousands of people gathered on the banks of the Clyde to welcome the boats into Glasgow and Charlie said it was an “overwhelming experience”.

“As we waited at Bowling Harbour to join the Flotilla, crowds began to gather on the Quayside as the lead boats passed with flags, bunting and the sound of bagpipes and a cocophony of horns drifting accross the river.

“It was an overwhelming and heartwarming experience. Being part of the flotilla was a once in a lifetime oppurtunity and I will always cherish my memories of the day.

“The experience not only made me feel proud to be part of the event, but proud to be Scottish.”