Monday, September 6, 2010

Dorna Sail and Oar, the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project, and ruminations on both

Boat Type: Trainera. Ameriketatik (“From the Americas”) was built in 1998 in the Rockland Apprenticeship in Maine, U.S.A., under the direction of Xabier Agote. Sardine fishing techniques, based on speed and manoeuvrability, demanded a length/beam ratio as high as 1/6, twelve metres being the most common length. The hull was light (800 kg approximately), with raised bow and stern, thus facilitating the turning of the craft. The crew was large, usually of twelve rowers, even sixteen in the case of the biggest traineras.

The trainera could also sail, although the sails were never used in the aforementioned fishing technique. The sailplan included main and fore dipping-lug sails. Ameriketatik Built 1998 Length: 11.5m Beam: 2m

Ameriketatik at Cumbrae

Beach at Cumbrae, Firth of Clyde, Scotland, site of the Dorna Sail and Oar

Two boats from the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project showed up, including Boatie Rows from Port Seton, aka Cockenzie . Here the Ulla crew, from Ullapool, tries out the Port Seton build. Apparently there's a lot of boat swapping and trying out at Coastal Rowing events, comparing builds etc, which seems very healthy and constructive.

Columcille crossed the Irish Sea to participate

Ocuan is a Scots Birlinn replica built and maintained by Galgael, the host organization for Dorna Sail and Oar

This boat, and the next, were both brought by the

RWSABC, the Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club, based
Greenock, Clyde

Cockenzie aka Boatie Rows

Boatie Rows

Port Seton, aka Cockenzie aka Boatie Rows
from the rather small village of Port Seton/Cockenzie,
(pronounced ko'k?ni)

Hey! I love prams, especially those built in traditional lapstrake and finished with oil and pine tar.

Here we have Ulla, Boatie Rows and Columcillle


Ulla and Ameriketatik


warmest thanks to Chris Perkins, aka Strathkanchris, for sharing his photos with 70.8%
these are a glorious record of the event, thanks Chris

Lot's to talk about here. First of all we have another instance where a traditional boat festival has invited the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project to participate, creating an impressive synergy. Dorna Sail and Oar is a traditional boat festival which took place recently at Cumbrae Island in the Firth of Clyde.International in character and intention, the festival had visiting boats and crews form Ireland and Galicia, Spain. The celebration, in it's first incarnation, is the production of several interesting groups. I feel a little background is in order to understand what's really going on here. Bear with me.

The Sail and Oar event is part of the DORNA project, a European initiative promoting traditional boat building and related skills.

GalGael Trust

Glasgow-based GalGael Trust are known for engaging the community in building and sailing traditional boats in celebration of Scotland’s heritage. GalGael's mission is to provide a template for renewal; cultural anchor points around which people can rekindle skills, community and a sense of purpose. They describe their innovative work in this way; “At our workbenches, we build skills and self esteem. In our workshop, boats and community are rebuilt.” One of their main achievements has been the development of a unique learning project; Navigate Life providing a place where people can navigate away from a broken sense of self and live life with dignity. Over the past four years 246 people have started this journey. From its Glasgow base, the Trust works with communities across Scotland.

Cumbrae Community Development Company

CCDC is the development trust for the island of Cumbrae, owners of the Garrison House, and charged with the regeneration of the island.

CCDC was established in 2002, after a sustained period of community-led action resulted in the salvation and sympathetic restoration of a magnificent local building - Garrison House - which is centrally located in the island's only town of Millport. After several years of work renovation of the property, including a partly-glass roof, was completed in 2008.

CCDC, following its success with Garrison House, has successfully expanded its remit and is now working with the community to identify ways forward for the sustainable development of the island through projects and initiatives that will boost the local economy and improve the quality of life of residents.


The event is part of the DORNA project, a European initiative promoting traditional boat building and related skills. DORNA Scotland is led by the GalGael Trust. Dorna lead partners from Deputacion Da Coruna will launch the BATE brand at the event. The brand will assist in marketing activity in support of the traditional boat building sector. Martin Hughes, Training Manager, said: “DORNA Scotland is delighted to be involved in the Sail and Oar event; highlighting the importance of boat-building in Scotland both historically and in the future. DORNA aims to not only celebrate and share the historic craft skills employed in building traditional vessels, but also explore how traditional boat-builders can work together to find new markets in the future.”

The Dorna Project is partially funded by the EU through the European Regional Development Fund. Get that! The EU is funding marketing initiatives to restore and preserve traditional boatbuilding skills in the Atlantic coastal communities. European largess or wisdom applied to preserving traditional skills and revitalizing coastal communities? Let me know what you think.

I'd also like to share some enthusiasm shared with me by Alec Jordan, of Jordan Boats, about the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project and it's rather phenomenal popularity with Scot's coastal communities, by putting up an (edited) email missive from Alec to me. Admittedly, Alec does have a pecuniary interest in the project as he is the supplier of the St Ayles kits, but I feel his enthusiasm for the project extends far beyond self interest.

Here are Alec's thoughts:

It would be great if we could get things moving a little elsewhere. I
have just finished writing a 1400 word article for Australian Amateur
Boat Builder and the NZ equivalent, so I am hoping that it will get
the interest going over there. We have the advantage that there is
the Scottish diaspora in NZ, so hopefully it will pick up there first.

I understand that Scott Kramer(?) (Carl Cramer, I think) at WoodenBoat also thinks that it is
a fantastic idea, but the feedback I am getting is that it is not
going to work as community based builds - more likely schools - which
misses the point a bit.

I would have thought that the coast of Maine, Chesapeake, and WA would
be the best places to try to get this going. I have heard that Mystic
are looking at doing something similar with trad built whalers, but
these will cost a fortune and need professional builders. The beauty
of the St Ayles is it's relative simplicity of build. It is also
quite forgiving - some of the tales that are coming back from the
builds are a little scary - why the **** won't people ask when in
doubt! But they are still going together.

It would be interesting to get the whaler plans and turn that into a
glued lap kit.

Anyway, I have a busy week with two more St Ayles' to cut.

If you have any ideas as to how to get things going, I'd love to hear
them - maybe put the question out on the blog....

I cold not agree with Alec more. The SCRP has been a galvanising force in bringing Scots communities together, around a wholesome and holistic endeavor. It's a great model for communities everywhere on this planet. If you have questions about this, or need help getting started, contact me or Alec. Lots of help available.
A heads up to the TSCA, this could be great project to get behind, with locally appropriate boat types involved.
So, a lot to ponder, a lot to act on. I will be sending a heads up to the Obama Administration to read this blog post, for what it's worth. Someone will read it.

Again, thanks to Chris for the loan of his photos and thanks to Alec Jordan for his enthusiasm.

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