In common with some of the other Argyll islands, such as Islay and Tiree, the Iona club opted to ‘do their own thing’ as it was not able to physically link in with the main baton route.
The St Ayles skiff that we built for Iona is called The Red Boat. It is a nod to the history of the small boats that used to serve the island both as ferries and tenders to the steamers that brought tourists round from Oban to Iona and Staffa. The colour of the boat was already agreed before the name. There was a lot of discussion about the colour and research of other skiffs’ designs. The Iona football and golf teams both play in red so it was thought that if we were ever to be a competitive rowing team it would be nice to stick with tradition. After the colour was chosen it seemed only natural to most of the build team that the name would follow. There were numerous other suggestions, from school children to grandparents and all in between. We had birds, fish, sea mammals, islands, Gaelic versions of all of those and many more but The Red Boat seemed to resonate with locals and allowed for a good bit of nostalgia.
The Red Boats that used to serve our island are a special memory for people of a certain age and although we are now delighted to have a car ferry and all that it means for supplies and ease of transport most folk remember the Red Boats with affection. For a lot of the build team their first memories of arriving on Iona was on a red boat. The last Red Boat to serve us before the car ferry Morven arrived was the Applecross which is still in the area, ashore in Craignure – but now we will hopefully have one around for a long time to come.
Text by Finlay