Coastal Rowing is All the Rage!

Posted on Updated on

If someone told you there was a craze growing in Scotland that was getting thousands of people coming together and out of the house, what would you imagine it was?  It’s not loom bands!

Coastal Rowing & Boat Building in Scotland


The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association was formed on 29 May 2010 to encourage boat building and rowing and racing of coastal rowing boats around the Scottish Coastline.

“We now see the boat building, oar making, practices, regattas and meetings all around the Scottish coast.  Thousands of people new to these activities are enjoying the teamwork required to build and race these skifts.  As well as making friends within their own communities, participants meet and learn about the other communities participating many of which share a common history through the sea”.

The design for the skiff was commissioned by the Scottish Fisheries Museum with the principle that the boats show be as low cost as possible.  There is now a kit that can be purchased by a community with the estimated completion cost of a boat just £3500.  The skiff is 22ft and takes a standard crew of four rowers.  The concept has been remarkably successful and attracting worldwide attention.

Catterline Skiff


Catterline was the first community in Kincardine & Mearns to come together to build and row their own skiff.  Boating enthusiast Rob Plummer heard about the idea of these boast and felt that Catterline should have one.  He got support from others and Catterline’s boat took shape.  Over 30 people helped build the boat in a local shed over a year and a half.  The boat was launched in June 2013.


The boat goes out every weekend, often attracting 10-15 rowers of all ages from teenagers to over-60s.  More rowers are welcome.  They have raced this season at Portsoy and Collieston.  At Portosy they raced against 15 other boats, across a number of categories – male/female/mixed, novice/experienced, youth/open/over 40/over 50.  It was also a chance for a community outing to the Portsoy Boat Festival for all the other boating and maritime activities as well as folk music, food and ceilidh!

You can find out more about the Catterline Community Boat and rowing via

Gourdon Skiff


The Gourdon boat building project got off to a start in August 2013 with a public meeting that saw seven people join a ‘management’ committee and a further five people getting involved.  Their idea was to get as many locals involved as possible, including school children and the nearby Milltown Community.  They rented a boatshed from the Maggie Law Museum for the duration of the build, anticipated at 18 months. They collected the kit in October and the building got underway.  Everyone involved has learned loads – from choosing timber to making frames and fitting stems.  At the end of July 2014 the ‘garboard strakes’ were fitted and they expect rapid progress from here!  The development of the boat has been documented at Gourdon Online.


The Gourdon project roots were in a community art exercise that was undertaken as part of the regeneration activity lead by Aberdeenshire Council.  An artist spent a number of weeks in a caravan in the village engaging with residents through various activities to tease out what they felt was important about their ‘place’.  A number of themes emerged including a feeling that while there was so much heritage and so many skills in the village, not everyone knew about them anymore.  The idea of a boat building project was suggested as a way of rekindling the stories and skills amongst people in a practical way.  The project team has been supported by a Community Learning & Development worker from Mearns Community Centre and it has been great to see so many people in Gourdon coming together.

Coastal Rowing at Stonehaven Harbour Festival


Stonehaven Harbour Festival has decided to invite skiffs to come and race during their event on Sunday 24th August.  They are expecting skiffs from Catterline, Port Soy and Collieston for the first ever skiff race in Stonehaven, which they hope may encourage the community in Stonehaven to consider building their own boat.

RaftRaceEntry CliffRescue

Still part of the event is the old favourite raft race and Stonehaven Coastguard will be attending again this year, hopefully carrying out a simulated cliff rescue to keep us mindful of the need to be careful anytime we’re out and about along the coast!

You can keep up to date with Stonehaven Harbour Festival news at their Facebook page

2 thoughts on “Coastal Rowing is All the Rage!

    nixonphoto said:
    23/08/2014 at 1:53 am

    I wouldn’t have imagined coastal rowing would have been popular. Is there a long history of it in that area?

      emmakidd said:
      25/08/2014 at 11:12 am

      It does seem to be getting popular! They started building the boat in Catterline at the beginning of 2012. As far as we are aware that was where the first boat in the area was built. Why don’t you get in touch with the Catterline email

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s