Gills Bay to Wick – Section 7 | Day 2

The baton, Community, is put aboard Pentland Ferries in St Margaret’s Hope by Orkney Rowing Club and arrives today in Gills Bay. The baton is passed over to the Wick Coastal Rowing Club. Gills Bay is around 25 miles by road to Wick via John o’ Groats. A combination of foot, pedal and man power would be supplied by the Wick Lifeboat crews, who in the spirit of the Coasts & Waters event, would have man-hauled their inshore lifeboat rib for part of the route.

I am sure everyone in the skiffing community would like to give thanks to the dedicated groups of RNLI volunteers, both here in Wick and in the many lifeboat stations around the country, and trust it is a service that we will not have to call upon.

The Spirit O’Wick and members from the Wick club, accompanied by members from Helmsdale and Golspie clubs, would then take the baton on a trip around Wick harbour and, weather and seas permitting, out and around the immediate coastal area.

Wick CRC at John o’ Groats
In Wick Harbour

Intro to Wick Coastal Rowing Club

Wick Coastal Rowing club was constituted in August 2012. Following the club being established, a plan was developed to raise funds to build our first boat. The promise of building a boat and re-introducing and developing traditional skills grabbed a lot of attention locally and the club was well supported with resources and funding being plentiful.
A large and diverse group of individuals with a wide range of skills, knowledge, and experience (and even wider age gaps) came together and a strong bond of friendship developed within the club. The club soon had the funds in place to purchase its first kit and work began on building the Spirit o’ Wick. Throughout the entire build a large number of members and regular visitors were involved with many strong friendships developing as skills and advice were passed on along with some helpful words of encouragement (and the odd wee bit of light hearted constructive criticism from time to time).

The Spirit o’ Wick (Number 49) was finally completed and an immensely proud team saw her kiss the water (officially) for the first time at the inaugural Skiff World Championships in Ullapool in 2013.

Lord Lieutenant of Caithness, Miss Anne Dunnett, names ‘Pulteney Lass’ with the traditional quaich of whisky
A lot of learning was done during the first build and a few changes were planned for the second boat. Primarily, these modifications were only there to improve her look although a few functional improvements were identified as the members spent more time on the water and started asking for little tweaks here and there to improve the rowing experience. The Pulteney Lass was finally launched in March 2015, much to the delight of an enormously proud build team.

Following a vote following the submission of a number of potential names, the Spirit o’ Wick was selected. It was thought that this was a fitting name as it captured the spirit of both the club and the local community and its support of the club in its initial stages.

The second boat was then named Pulteney Lass as it was fitting to name her after ‘the other side of the toon’ (Pulteney Town).

The membership used the boats for both social rowing, exploring the local coastline and on a slightly more competitive note, visiting several other locations around the Highlands to row in various regattas with varying degrees of success (racing wasn’t our strong point!).

Although the club had a large following for the boat building aspects of the club, many of these members drifted away once the builds were completed. Now the club members try to get out as often as possible but rowing activities are generally restricted to the social aspects of the sport. You never know though, one of these days we may find a new bunch of lunatics willing to push the boats to their limits and get us racing again!