Crinan to Ardfern – Section 4 | Day 2

Loch Craignish, from Creag a’ Bhanan. Photo by Clive Brown

Today’s navigation would see the Seil and Whitburn skiffs row in company, a 10 km voyage across Loch Crinan and up the east side of Loch Craignish, between Eilean Macaskin and the mainland, to the Ardfern Yacht Centre pontoons at the head of the loch.

One of the crew today was Jakki. Here is her story:

I wanted to learn to row after I met Selkie the skiff at the Scarecrow Festival in the summer of 2019 on the Isle of Seil. There was only one difficulty I had to overcome; I was terrified of open water. My fear stemmed from an experience some 20 odd years ago when I almost drowned whilst messing about with some friends in the sea at Pease Bay, near Dunbar.
Before I knew it I was booked onto a trial rowing session. I explained: “I’m terrified of open water, I’m a terrible swimmer,” anything for Sue to say: “Oh that’s a shame, we will need to cancel, I’m afraid.” Instead she reassured me that I would be fine. I wanted to take steps towards overcoming my fear and this was my very first.
What can I say! I loved my first rowing session. Of course I was terrified, but the reassurance of the cox and other crew members spurred me on. I am so proud to say that I raced in the Freshwater Sprints at Loch Tummel. I cannot wait to take part in the RowAround Scotland 2020. Or 2021. To anyone that might be scared, don’t be; you will be well looked after and there is no better feeling than rowing.

Ardfern Yacht Centre

Gift wrapped skiff
The yacht centre was originally started around an old pier, where steamers and puffers once called taking cattle and freight to islands and isolated coastal villages on the west coast. Here we would meet the newly formed Craignish CRC, with their half-completed skiff collected from Team Guello in north Norfolk just before the lockdown (on the Isle of Seil’s trailer), and run a try-a-row session.

Also having a go would have been the BBC Landward presenter, together with a film crew.

Ardfern Yacht Centre: photo by Clive Brown

Oh, for the days before social distancing! Drumming up business for the try-a-rows: Photo Oban Times
The BBC Landward crew filming (at Berwick Harbour Festival)

What Uta, Claire and Ewan have to say about Coastal Rowing

How do you feel when you are out on the water?
* Free!
* Very in touch with my own physicality and, when it’s all working right, part of a well-oiled machine which is a satisfying feeling.
* Alive!

Who got you into coastal rowing?
* I signed up when I saw there was a skiff rowing club so close to home. I had always enjoyed rowing in the local sports club but enjoying outside at the same time seemed a win win.
* After years of racing sliding seat I missed the above! Arthritis in my wrists had made it difficult to feather…
* I like building boats and never thought I’d row, so I suppose I got myself involved …

What do you love about these Coasts and Waters?
* These coasts are like special gems, there to be discovered and enjoyed
* Whether rowing or sailing I’m more at home on the sea than on the land anyway, and there is no more varied, beautiful, wonderful and volatile coastal sea than the west of Scotland. And the colours, and the light.
* The world is magical when viewed from the water.

Paint your own mini Skiff

Sue and a mini Selkie
As co-event director of RowAround Scotland, Sue asked for a template of the mini skiffs hanging around the miniature train track at the Stranraer Worlds, intending to make decorations for try-a-rows. In lockdown, it seemed a good idea to paint the wee plywood boat in club colours; the number on the bow was not a success (no fine paintbrushes available!) Paper templates available to make your own.