Vatersay to Eriskay via Barra – Section 5a | Day 1

Following a successful application from Croitear Òg (a youth project in Barra & Vatersay) to the European funding stream ‘Include Us’, the project was able to purchase the skiff kit & tools. The idea had been planted by Ann MacKin, originally from Barra but now resident in Pittenweem, a keen coastal rower with Anstruther.

The skiff project included five young lads working with volunteers from the island under the guidance of Roddy MacIntyre, a retired local shipwright.

Kisimul – photo: Jon Gerrard
A competition was held for the primary school children to suggest a name and Kisimul was chosen. The name is Norse meaning ‘sheltered bay’ and is also the name of the iconic castle sitting in the islands main harbour. The two children who suggested Kisimul‘s name launched her in September 2013.

The Fair Maid was built in 2014-2015 with a donation from the Clan MacNeil & sponsorship of planks from local businesses & individuals. There is a famous song about the ‘Fair Maid of Barra’, a local lady famed for her beautiful blond hair. Many of us remember her as a lovely lady who never set foot off Barra.

Regatta – photo: Jon Gerrard

We intend to hold regattas on a bi-annual basis, alternating with the Lochboisdale Regatta. Alongside standard races we have a confined race for Western Isles skiffs for the Roddy Jardine Memorial Trophy. Roddy was one of our original volunteers and the main driving force to our new marina. He passed away in 2018 & the local Community Company wished to sponsor a race in his honour.

photo: Jon Gerrard
Both our skiffs are white with a green strake. The colours match our Barra flag.

The baton, Spirit, was to have been put on the Oban/Castlebay Calmac ferry by the RowAround Safety Office, Andy Rendle, following the Special leg of RowAround down the River Tay.

The Barra & Vatersay skiffs were aiming to row from Vatersay Bay around Barra’s east coast (in stages) and across from Eoligarry to Eriskay to meet with Cheryl & Robert Taylor’s skiff, Living the Dream, handing on the baton in time for their regatta in Lochboisdale.

Castlebay on the runway – photo: Jon Gerrard
Skiffs on the runway – photo: Jon Gerrard