Friday, September 2
by Administrator on Fri 02 Sep 2011 09:44 AM BST
The visit of the Tall Ships to Ullapool in July was one of the highliughts of the summer, especially as the small ship we restored over the spring, the 35 year-old Westerly Centaur "Ensay Mist", was there to play with them.
Ensay Mist's mooring was the ideal place to watch the festivities which included visits by Tall Ships Gloria, Christian Radich, Pelican and Wylde Swan and others, and the not so tall but equally beautiful Jolie Brise. The Stornoway coastguard helicopter and Lochinver lifeboat were on top form, as usual.
We had a wee sail out in company with Wylde Swan when she took guests to the Summer Isles for a day sail and from Ensay's cockpit she looked stunning. She's the largest topsail schooner in the world and with one of her topsails set for the run back up Loch Broom she looked mightily impressive.
Not so impressive was the Saturday weather when the clouds couldn't hold on to any more water and they split asunder in an unseasonal and unwelcome deluge, occasionally confusing which was sky and which was sea. No matter, everyone on board loved the experience and seeing the big boats from close range was memorable.
by Administrator on Fri 02 Sep 2011 09:27 AM BST
The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy has grown over the years into one of Scotland's biggest nautical events. This year's event was blessed with glorious weather once again and Northboats was there with a stand as usual.
It was good to see the St Ayles skiffs racing, once more confounding the sceptics who say that plywood boats have no place in a revival of traditional craft. How wrong can you be, because these wonderful wee boats, designed by Iain Oughtred who was at Portsoy to cast his expert eye over them, and built to patterns supplied by Alec Jordan in Fife, have singled-handedly revived the whole art of coastal rowing. Anyone who sees enthusiastic crews training regularly from East Lothian to Wester Ross cannot fail to be impressed by their impact.
I was also good to see one of our own Northboats-built boats, a 16ft Shetland-style skiff called Feadhanach, taking to the water and joining in the racing, despite a nasty swell and unpredicatble winds. She looked splendid, especially with her new Douglas fir oars working well.
The STBF needs to take care, however. From what we could see, the crowds this year were more interested in buying ice-creams and visiting the non-nautical stalls than watching the boats. If it continues to slide away from being a truly boat festival, which is how it all began, we might be look elsewhere in future.