St Mary’s Loch to Gretna – Section 13

Today we’re towing the skiff (and batons) to St. Mary’s Loch for a ceremonial handover afloat to Annan CRC. Many thanks to Sue and Stuart for wrangling our stories into something very readable. Would it make a glossy coffee-table book? This handover closes the ‘around Scotland circle’, the completion of the SCRA’s Virtual RowAround Scotland(VRAS).

Look back, and smile on perils past. — Walter Scott

On the map of Scotland, the VRAS makes roughly the shape of an oar-blade, and whilst writing the East Lothian section (12), a deep in thought, musing in reverie, I often felt we really were rowing. Once a skiff is completed, you haven’t just built a boat, you’ve presented a dream.

Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever. — Herman Melville, ‘Moby Dick’

After ten years, there are too many people from the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA), past and present, to thank, but Meg Ennis sums it up: “I am so thankful that Robbie introduced rowing to North Berwick. He is a gentleman and brought his values to our club when it began.“ Every skiffie can insert an equivalent name that means the most to their club.

Andy Rendle is here at St. Mary’s Loch to represent the SCRA. I knew he’d be in at the kill and to ensure these superbly-crafted batons don’t ‘go missing’. Easily mislaid, I’d wager, Andy!

St. Mary’s Loch is south of Edinburgh in the Borders between Selkirk and Moffat. Hamish Dobbie and Charles Willoughby from the local sailing club have invited us as visitors. Today’s plan is to ‘virtually’ row for 30 minutes and then return to meet up with Annan for a baton handover. I observe our crew; Dunbar’s membership is irrespective of age, sex, ethnicity, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, religion or other beliefs. Memo to self: I should’ve added ‘and even regardless of ability’ – “Hey, keep in time, there, keep in time”.

Dunbar’s Quiz team in natty T-shirts, ready for 2021

Dunbar’s annual trophy is on show, made some years ago by Stuart Mack: truly beautiful; the skiff that is, not Stu.

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.

Many of us, when visiting another country, are invited to row. I’m minded of touring the Great Ocean Road in Australia, my wife and I called up Warnambool who were launching their first skiff. We were immediately invited to join them, rowed pleasantly, chatted, then ate fish n’ chips with chilled wine on a windy beach in the setting sun. Many thanks to Patrick and Susie Groot for ‘skiffie spirit’.

May yer blessings outnumber the thistles that grow,
And may trouble avoid ye wherever ye go.” — Anon

Sometimes as we launch on some remote coastline, people ask us: “Where are you going?” I’m always tempted to reply, again from Moby Dick: “It is not marked on any map; true places never are.”

“Ahoy Annan!” “Avast Dunbar!”

Dunbar and Annan meet for the Baton Handover to complete the RowAround Scotland 2020. Congratulations to all the clubs who took part, especially the RowAround team who visualised and managed our virtual row.

Baton Handover: Alan (Annan) Thomson (Pilot, Section 1) and Kenny (Dunbar) Maule (Pilot, Section 12).

No ‘fantasy’ row has this been, more a preparation for the REAL row next year in 2021. Considering our clubs, rowing in scenic glory, spectacular coastlines, hidden islands, lochs, and rivers we turn to Robert Burns and the beauty of Scotland:

“To see her is to love her,
And love but her for ever;
For Nature made her what she is,
And never made anither!”

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