Our virtual row has a perfect tide – high water approaching spring tide at about 1pm, allowing us to launch at 10.30am for our first leg to St Monans, where coffee and cake is conveniently available at the East Pier Smokehouse beside the slipway where Fisher Lass has been hauled up.
We’re looking forward to rowing alongside St Monans’ new skiff when virtual rowing ends and the real stuff begins again. We leave St Monans at 11.30, allowing enough time to get to Elie around high water.
Introducing Pittenweem Rowing Club
Villagers gathered in 2010 to found Pittenweem Rowing Club, eager to build a community boat and to take part in events around the coast of Scotland. None of us had any experience of boatbuilding but all other types of technical expertise were pressed into service. After one of the hardest winters in recent times, we managed to make progress with the build in a farmer’s shed, accompanied by inquisitive, noisy chickens! We’re very grateful to the landowners over the years who’ve let us use their spaces for building and maintenance.
Fisher Lass came together with the help of locals who gave their time and enthusiasm to learn new skills, and we were very proud when the skiff was launched on 19 May 2012, with its distinctive blue, yellow and white colours from the Royal Burgh of Pittenweem Crest, and the Club’s harbour logo designed by local artist Isobel McAslan. Her name pays tribute to Pittenweem’s long fishing heritage. Pipers and the Fisher Lad and Lass attended the launch to make it a real community event, and we were registered with SCRA as number 26.
Since then we’ve been all over Scotland and beyond to take part in regattas and expeditions. We are a friendly club, always welcoming new members, with a particular interest in just getting out on the water and enjoying ourselves. Just some of our many trips have been to Barra, Cumbrae and Wee Cumbrae, Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival (traditionally in the rain), saluting the new V&A from the Tay, circumnavigating Seil, and not forgetting taking Fisher Lass all the way to Brittany.
What some of our rowers say:
I feel privileged to be on the water and find myself lifted and yet becalmed, it is great to get a different perspective on life. Initially I didn’t want to do coastal rowing and went along to support my partner; however coastal rowing spun its magic and now I am hooked. I particularly enjoy the feeling of a workout but also the ‘lazy, take in the wildlife’ pauses. It is truly wonderful to be alongside dolphins and indeed all the other species that we share our amazing coastline with.
I remember liking rowing on park lochs as a child. I moved to Fife to care for my mum who had dementia. Being outdoors has been an important aspect of life for me. It lifts my spirits, and can help maintain my mental health. So, as a carer, not having time or energy to get to the hills and having the sea on doorstep coming across skiff coastal rowing in 2010 felt a bit of a life saver. And have met lovely folk along the way, fun, new places and experiences.
It’s so peaceful out on the water and gives such a different perspective on familiar scenery. I got into coastal rowing to help build a boat, but I’ve stayed for the fun and friendship, especially of other women over 50. I love the sense of promise held by the open sea.
Fisher Lass has taken us places we would never have gone to otherwise, and we’ve established life-long friends.
Gallery of Real (not Virtual) baton handover, onto Pittenweem and Elie
Photos by Mhairi Mackinnon (Pittenweem) – please click to enlarge
In the beginning, there was a conversation among the Town’s Team that, despite the village’s illustrious past as a boat building community, we were in danger of being the only East Neuk town without a skiff!
In 2013, St. Monans Town Team decided to build it and the St Monans Community Trust agreed to assist in managing the project. Members of the Town’s Team along with the potential rowers generously donated sufficient funds to get the project underway. Key to the project was finding a place to build the boat, and our local farmer, Pete Peddie, kindly allocated a space for us in one of his farm buildings. Little did he know how long we would occupy the space and we are eternally grateful for his extreme patience.
Along with several other volunteers, Gordon Bell, Steven Smith and Jim Hope, led the early days of the build, getting the frame and the first boards in place. Unfortunately, illness slowed the build for some time. Bob Flann who joined the group, bringing experience, skills and a new momentum, saved us from crisis. We also had support and advice from Pittenweem and Anstruther rowing clubs who offered not only their expertise, but also generous donations of tools and kit.
The Sea Queen name was suggested by the local children referencing our village Sea Queen Gala. The colours of the boat were inspired by the Sea Queen’s ceremonial cloak.
While waiting for the skiff to be built, some of our rowing group joined Elie Sailing Club and have been rowing in their skiff, Archie. A close bond has been formed between the two groups. We are delighted to join the ever-growing skiff family and can’t wait for Sea Queen to be in the water.