Row, row, row a boat gently up the Tay...

Volunteers building the Catalina celebrated when she was 'turned over' in readiness for the final building process last summer.
Volunteers building the Catalina celebrated when she was 'turned over' in readiness for the final building process last summer.

Most people can’t – and don’t – run away to sea, but the pull of the sea is in many.

Now Tayport’s Niamh Kelly may have the means to satisfy the desire to enjoy the sea.

She’s hoping to start a skiff building and rowing project in the town – and has already formed the Tayport Coastal Rowing Group.

This weekend the group is hosting a taster session at Tayport Harbour when neighbouring Wormit rowers – who have experience of building and rowing two skiffs – will be bringing along the Catalina so that newcomers to the sport can have a go.

And, if it is popular, Niamh said: “The aim is then to find some space and funds to build our own skiff so that we can join in with the other skiff crews in the area.”

Niamh already rows with the Wormit rowers and “loves it” so much she decided to try to get a similar project off the ground in Tayport.

“I was aware a lot of villages here had skiffs, and I thought it would be wonderful if Tayport had one,” she said. “Because there is a harbour here with all its history, I thought it would be great to bring that back.”

“I have a vision of racing with all the local skiffs along the Tay – how amazing would it be to be racing between the bridges?”

More than 30 people are now involved, and the group has become part of the Tayport Community Trust.

The free taster event is at Tayport Harbour this Sunday between 1.30 and 3.30pm. It’s free of charge – and includes the use of life jackets.

People can try out rowing in Catalina, and find out how they can get involved with the Tayport Coastal Rowing Group.

Ever since it was first designed as a demonstration project for the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Fife in 2009, the small boat – it fits four rowers and a cox – has been snapped up by coastal villages and towns across Scotland.

Communities around the Fife coast have been involved. Along the Tay and the Forth, several villages have skiffs, including Wormit, Broughty Ferry, Anstruther, Pittenweem and Crail, while St Monans’ boat is under construction.

But it has spread even further than that – skiffs can now be found in the Netherlands, the USA and Australia, in fact, dozens around the world.

It all started in 2009 when the Scottish Fisheries Museum approached Jordan Boats to run a boatbuilding course. As the project evolved, the St Ayles skiff came into being.

Twenty-two feet long and 5’ 8” in the beam and weighing in at around 155kg, The St Ayles is a very stable boat.

Now Jordan’s supply them in kit form to the coastal rowing groups that have sprung up around the country.

Their popularity is based on their low cost and simplicity to build. Experienced boat builders can put one together in a few weeks, while amateur clubs generally take between four and six months to build their boats.

The ethos of the St Ayles is that it should be built with a low cost, and that the quality of the boat comes more from the skill of the builders, rather than from the depth of the club’s pockets.