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This blog is a record of a community project to build a beautiful, traditional-style rowing skiff  -length 22 foot and 5 foot 8 beam- called the ‘Coigach Lass,’  for competitive rowing,  fun and fitness.

Prototype St Ayles Skiff

All ages at the oars-the prototype St Ayles Skiff photographed in Fife by Chris Perkins on 31st October, 2009

The folk involved are some of the inhabitants of Coigach- that very special peninsula on the North-West Coast of Scotland.

Visitors might notice that our community is sometimes referred to as Achiltibuie. The postal address of all the townships in Coigach is Achiltibuie as it is the main village on the peninsula and where the post office is situated.

From the project’s almost accidental beginnings- see ‘In the beginning..’ below- right up to the day rowing teams take the Coigach Lass out in all her glory into Badentarbat Bay, I hope to keep anyone who drops in on this blog informed on the progress of the build, the formation and training of the rowing teams and to include photos and maybe even bits of video and audio.

Lesley Muir (buieboat)

Vista from Coigach

What a day for rowing!      A Coigach vista.

In the beginning……

When you are lucky enough to live right by the sea in one of the most beautiful places on the planet and you realize it and are glad of it on a daily basis, you look for new ways to work it and own it and, to use a late 60s phrase, groove on it.

So when I read Adrian Morgan’s  invitation in the Ullapool News for volunteers to join him and some boaty, rowy, competitive pals in helping to build a modern, Iain Oughtred take on the mouthwateringly elegant and streamlined Fair Isle Skiff for the purpose of competitive rowing and fun, I thought mmm hmm, I’m up for that.

Procrastination along with raw enthusiasm being my forte tho’,  I missed the boat -they had a syndicate up and running by the time I emailed my interest. Ah well.

But wait a minute.

Achiltibuie rules, as the kids here often say.

And rocks. (The boat.)

We can do this here in Coigach on an all-ages, everyone-welcome, community basis. Yes!

A few posters later -asking for rowers, builders and helpers for a community Skiff to be called perhaps ‘Coigach Lass’ I thought….. and suddenly I had around 30 names, enthusiasts, from ancient mariners to cabin boys  (plenty women too) and from all the airts of Coigach.

As Kevin P said to me at the very first get-together of an enthusiastic core of Coigach Lass volunteers, “This project is going to grow arms and legs.”

And when we had all agreed that despite the cost… and questions over where she would be stored once built… and wouldn’t she be needing a trailer… and all the fundraising ahead, we were all comforted and heartened by the boat-building shed’s proximity to the bar…perfect! Oh yes absolutely perfect we all agreed, imagining ourselves working on the boat through chilly winter evenings then straight up the hill for a warming dram…

So.  The Coigach Lass is on.

Ancient Mariners? ?

Serious stuff- Ali and Ron study the build photos for the skiff.

Ali beag at the first meeting.

Ali scrutinises the St Ayles Skiff photo.

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