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The Fisher Lass Story old

Building the 'Fisher Lass' by Pete Wilcox.

Once upon a time ....

Early in the misty morning of the 15th of October, 2010, three men in a van set out from Pittenweem for Alec Jordan's workshop in Leven, westward along the coast of Fife.Mike Adamson, Jim Morrison and I were going to collect our skiff kit, the purchase of which had been arranged beforehand. We had already arranged premises for the build too, having graciously been given permission by a local farmer, Peter Peddie, to use space in one of his barns at Coal Farm. Although the club had formed some weeks beforehand,nothing much had happened until collection of the kit, but once we had finally got our hands on the basic building blocks of the boat, construction could finally commence!

Commencing the build

Much of the remainder of the year was spent in preparatory work, collecting furniture for the build area, (workbenches, storage cupboards and the suchlike) placing and leveling the build frame, (most important!) and putting together the frames that would form the boat's "ribs", and the moulds which would be attached to the build frame, that would determine the overall shape of the boat's hull. Then the cruel winter months of 2010/2011 set in, and because of the fierce frosts, snows, gales and everything else that nature seemed determined to throw at us, not very much progress was made at all. It was only in the middle of January 2011 that the pace of work began to pick up once more. Many different boat parts began to be constructed in parallel, for instance the hog, the keel, and with the aid of "forms" the curved laminations of the bow and aft stems. With a scarph jig created, the planking that would form the "strakes" of the hull began to be scarphed for joining.

Starting to look like a skiff

By Saturday, the 9th of March, the finished frames had been attached to their respective moulds, and had begun to be "faired" - having their outer surfaces taken down to match the curvature of the hull that would eventually bond with them. With the laying of the hog on top of the frames, the structure of the boat was finally becoming visible. Until then it had all been a matter of preparation of components, infrastructure and tooling -but finally it was beginning to actually look as if it might one day become a boat! With the inner stems attached to the hog and faired, work continued throughout April on preparing the outer stems, keel, and frame fairing. The frame ends, having been faired with the rest of the main sections, were removed and stored for later use. Just as work commenced on laying the planking of the strakes, on the 16th of April a film crew from BBC Alba turned up at the build shed to film us in action as part of a documentary they were making on the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project as a whole, and the revival of skiff building and rowing as a sport in general. It made for quite an exciting afternoon!

Our beautiful boat taking shape

Throughout the summer months work progressed slowly but steadily, and plank after plank, strake after strake, the hull began to take shape. By midsummer the basic hull was complete, and work began on attaching the outer stems and keel. With an eye to the future a cradle was built, as once the outer work on the boat was finished it would have to be turned over so that inside work could be done. Once rubbing strips had been attached to the outside of the gunwales, there followed an intense period of finishing activity - filling, sanding and preparing the outer surfaces for painting. On Monday, the 8th of August, the first coat of undercoat was applied to the hull, and the painting and varnishing of the outer surfaces was completed by the end of the month.

The final push

Then began a very exciting phase of the work, as one by one the moulds were slowly released, detached from the boat and build frame, and removed. Finally the boat sat resting on its own on the build frame - an independent form at last! After much cleaning up of the inside of the boat from underneath, a dozen club members came together on Saturday the 10th of September to lift the boat off its build frame, turn it over, and settle it into its cradle. It felt like such an important turning point in the long project, and was the cause of much celebration. There followed a long phase of removal of excess glue, cleaning and filling, and generally correcting a lot of wee mistakes that had gone unnoticed while the boat was upside-down, and attention was concentrated on its outer surfaces. By the beginning of October work had commenced in laying down the inner laminations of the gunwales, and in parallel with clean-up work these were completed by mid-November. The frame-ends began to be added on the 19th, and by the end of November the frames were complete. Work then started on internal fittings - beams, tafts (thwarts,) taft supports, thole pins, their support sockets, and so on. In December, Jim began a one-man project to construct a rudder and tiller structure to steer the boat with, while I concentrated on finishing off the internal fittings of the boat itself. And there we are today. It is now the 30th of January, 2012, and with the addition of a pair of breasthooks to the bow and aft gunwale ends, the gunwales themselves will be ready for varnishing, and the inside of the boat for painting.


The Big Day !

Our boat was launched at the Gyles on the 19th of May 2012. There was a good attendance from members of the local community who came to celebrate the launch and a few had a row. Since then we have all been enjoying rowing in our beautiful boat.

Click the link below to watch the video of the launch.

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