Despite the weather…

Opening the barn this morning to check the boat the thermometer read 1.9 degrees centigrade! It’s like that in North Norfolk when the wind is in the East.

Undismayed, gunwales, capping rail, breasthooks and cox’s seat are being fitted, Chris has undertaken to construct the bottom boards in his own workshop (see delivery below) while Andy and Adrian press on oar-making with valuable assistance from Edward Allen and the lads at Russell Scientific Instruments. The larch thwarts are being cut and fitted loosely too.

Alec Jordan has invited us to exhibit the boat at Pangbourne 7th to 9th June in the Beale Park Boat Show. Anyone wishing to come (even for a day) is most welcome; free tickets, and accommodation can be arranged, plus ample camping site. It’s the best UK boat show. Contact Ian for details.


A few clamps to hold the capping rail down…




The first thwart in place…




Vicky making a good job of routering anti-slip grooves in the bottom boards…




Then on the car and away to Blakeney for Chris to start…


Oars – halfway there

Adrian and Andy have been busy making oars with the knot-free Douglas Fir bought in Norwich.


Working in the same workshop, we made one each in very much a trial-and-error way as the exact final shape was flexible.  We compared measurements continually and seem to have made a matching pair, although Andy’s was heavier than Adrian’s by 50gms which seems fair enough!



Next step is to make two more with some timber which has been milled for us by Edward Allen of Russell Scientific Instruments.  He makes the most wonderful barometers, barographs, thermometers etc.  Sadly, we don’t need any on the skiff, but if we did he would be the man to speak to!

Stage 1a – the Turnover

Yesterday (Monday 11 March) in the snow and sub-zero temperatures, John Seymour and I set up block and tackle and lifting strops, raised the fully planked hull and released all the moulds without mishap. We resisted the temptation of trying to turn her as John Worrall of Anglia Afloat had kindly agreed to come today 12 March to take photos of this major step in our build.

Joined by 7 or 8 of our team and supporters, we managed to lift and turn her with ease – well if you call a good half inch clearance under the roof beam ease… – so now she is upright and the process of tidying up epoxy drips has started in earnest. Coffee was drunk and cakes eaten. The sun shone and the snow disappeared.

John has taken some great shots which we hope will appear in Anglia Afloat in the summer.

When everybody had gone, I couldn’t resist clamping on one section of gunwale and she really does begin to look like a St Ayles skiff.

This photo thanks to Ian Ruston:



Chris, Barrie, Victoria and Roger have today ensured the keel is on and stems scarphed and glued. This means we should be ready to turn the boat over – I am thinking of Tuesday morning, say 10:30 – 11:00. If you could lend a hand for an hour please contact me by e-mail ( or phone 01263 862496. We shall need a few of us to make light work of it. John Worrall of Anglia Afloat plans to photograph the event.

ALec Jordan has asked us to take Hoi Larntan to the Beale Park boat show 7,8,9 June. It would be good to have an English boat there, rather than one of the Scottish ones, to spread the gospel  – so launch date could move back to weekend at end of May. Olympic rowing celebrity has been asked but couldn’t do June 8th so maybe the change of date will help?

Watch this space.

Moving forward…

Thank you to all who came to our Open Day on Sunday – 40 or so altogether – boatbuilders, yachting press, friends, sailing club members and new rowers. Bob Panrucke who is hoping to build a St Ayles skiff (or two) in Kings Lynn came to swap notes.

Lots of encouraging comments and enthusiastic support – not to mention Lena’s luscious array of cakes and scones. Many thanks.

As of this evening (Tues), thanks to Adrian T and Alan, we have just one more plank to hang. Adrian H and I will have a go at that in the morning. Larch has been cut for seats and supports, oak for kabes and pine for the bottom boards are on their way. The first oars are taking lovely shape.

My self-imposed target of 31 May for completion has sparked thoughts of a launch on 8 June on the evening tide. Parade along the quay with band playing…celebrity launch and a glass or two to celebrate. I’d better be up early tomorrow to get on then!

The picture shows the boat as she was at the weekend:


Reminder about Open Day Sunday 3rd March 2-5pm

Remember remember remember

To any potentailly interested individuals eg Wells/Brancaster/Burnham sailing clubs,  other rowing clubs, Norfolk skiff club members etc- or just come along yourself

Open Day for the St Ayles Skiff in Norfolk

The Coastal Rowing Association of Blakeney would love you to drop in to Ian Duffill’s workshop in Thurning on Sunday March 3rd (2-5pm)  to see the progress we are making on “Hoi Larntan” – the St Ayles Skiff we are building. This is a traditional 22ft, 5 man, wooden boat – popular in Scotland but this is the first in England. You will be amazed by what our dedicated group of boatbuilders have achieved, which is fortunate as we are planning to go to the World Skiffie championships in Ullapool in July. We plan to run a Norfolk Regatta next year and so we are hoping to inspire you  to build yourself a skiff and try traditional rowing! Ian has very detailed instructions on how to find his house if you send us an email at We look forward to seeing you then.