St Ayles Skiff: Progress Report

Feb 2020:

Sea trials & some rowing practice.

‘She Floats’!


Dear all,

             planning for the Steamers Run is going well as you would expect given it is only 3 weeks away.
Some of us have already booked accom at the Stratford Upon The River Tourist Park (51456588) at Stratford on the night (Tuesday 25 Feb) before the Raid leaves the Port of Sale on Wednesday 26th. This place is about 17 kms from Sale-would be good to all participants there if this can be managed.
Alan Lewis of Sale Heritage Cruises will be providing the ‘Robeena’ as support vessel from Port of Sale to the Heart Morass Reserve for day one of our raid. This leg is about 17kms along canal and river. The lions Club at Sale will be catering for us at this camp site. I will supply expenses that each participant will incur for the evening meal as well as breakfast and the packed lunch for the next day’s row to Loch Sport. This site has no amenities. Port loo will be in place. Showering will have to wait until arrival in Loch Sport the next afternoon/evening-of course the Latrobe River may suffice in order to freshen up. Perhaps bring togs.  Accommodation will be in tents that people bring along.
Day 2 from campsite at Heart Morass Reserve to Loch Sport via the last stretch of the Latrobe River, Lake Wellington, McLennan Strait and Lake Victoria to Loch Sport. We will want to leave the Morass as early as possible to have the best possible rowing conditions in which to cross Lake Wellington-winds and chop can get up mid to late morning. We will have two support vessels for day two:  Peter Bell’s ‘Moongalba’ and Gavin Mills’ ‘Sea Fog’. Toliets and bunks are available on at least Moongalba. Additonal rowers will also travel on the support vessels. The Loch Sport Boat Club are catering for our evening meal (2 courses) at $30 a head (they want 50% deposit by 24th Feb). Accom at Loch Sport will be at the caravan Park which is next door to the boat club. Sites are for 2 people at $35 powered and $30 unpowered. Contact the caravan Park to book your tent site (03 51460264). They will put us in proximity of each other if you identify yourselves as part of the skiff group. Breakfast will be again at the Boat Club ($5 per person) and the Loch Sport Lions Club will be supplying a packed lunch/drink – cost and order form to come.
Day 3 to Paynesville will see Peter and the ‘Moongalba’ accompany us across Lake Victoria. I am also liaising with the Classic Boat rally secretary regarding insurance for participants. It is expected that participants will share this cost. I shall advise detail of this insurance and cost when it comes to hand.
The intent is that participants’ expenses will enable the covering the cost of staging the Steamer’s Run. Perhaps future years when we hope to run the event again will involve a profit plan that will go into the coffers of SASCRAA.
Please send any questions as they arise and I will continue to provide detail as it emerges. I am looking forward to rowing with you.
Warm Regards,
Patrick (0400 359 681)

January already and look at what’s happening.

With the end of the build getting ever closer it is now time to think about our first major rowing event, The Steamers Run in Gippsland. (25th – 29th FEB 2020)
This will start in Sale and end in Paynesville in time for the Paynesville Wooden Boat Festival.
in addition to other rowing craft, there will be a minimum of 4 St Ayles Skiffs attending, including skiffs from:
  • Warrnambool
  • Melbourne ( Welsh Church)
  • Marlo
  • Mordialloc
There will also be a couple of rowing teams from Tassie (minus their Skiff)
So if you are up for an adventure check out the attached extract from an email from Patrick Groot from the St Ayles Skiff Community Rowing Association of Australia (SASCRAA)
We have promised to be there however the distance we actually row will depend on how many rowers we get and how fit we feel. We certainly don’t expect anyone to row the whole distance, it is more likely that we will each row short distances at any one time. The Tassie teams have said they will share the rowing with us and we may travel part of the way by towing the skiff on its trailer.
If you are interested in being part of this event read the attached and let me know if you are interested.
Oh and don’t forget we are still building each Thursday night and Sunday.
See you at the skiff

October ends and we prepare for the internals and the Oars…

Opening Day preparation and on display: 5th October…

Later in September:


and now it’s September:







the August update:

Sorry that its been a little while since I’ve sent out an update of the building of our beautiful little skiff.
While I have  had a fair bit going on over the last few months, the build has been continuing each Thursday night and Sunday.
and those who have been available have done a great job in keeping the building happening and close to our schedule.
We now have the skiff getting close to painting stage and ready to turn over. The attached pic shows all the planking completed and the outer stems and keel in place.
The hull has been filled and sanded to a point that painting will commence in the next couple of weeks.
Our next major milestone is the turn over which we expect to happen by mid September. I will let you all know when we have a firm turn over date and you are all invited to the turn over party.
The clubs Opening Day will be on the 5th of October and the skiff will be on display at whatever stage it is at.
Again it would be great to see you all at the opening day, Cariad will also be there as well as the Bendigo bank, our state and Federal members, and a band to provide some salty music.
We hope to officially launch the skiff before Christmas this year, agin I will keep you informed of the official launch date.
As you are aware once completed we will be searching for a number of rowing teams to row the skiff at Mordialloc Sailing Club and take part in local regattas and rowing raids.
The first event will be the SW Regatta at Warnnambool on the 22 and 23rd of Feb 2020.
The second event will be the steamer raid which is a three day rowing event from the 26th to the 28th of February 2020. This event starts in Sale (Gippsland) and ends at the wooden boat festival at Paynesville.
So if you still want to be part of a rowing team keep these dates in your diary
I will be in contact again closer to launch date to organise rowing teams and practice dates and times
In the meantime don’t forget we would love to see you at the build any Thursday evening or Sunday


July – all planked, now for the keel.






Well its now or never!
Richard has had a look at our work so far in preparing the skiff for planking and with a little bit more work we are ready to install the first plank to the skiff tomorrow night.
The plan for tomorrow night is to complete the final adjustment tp stems, keelson and ribs. Then fit the first plank and screw into place.
On Sunday the Sunday crew will do the same with the second plank and hopefully scarf join the next 2 planks ready for next week.
So if you want to be involved in the planking right from the start, see you at 6.30pm tomorrow night (22n May) or 10.30am on Sunday.



After a little break of two weeks,  Thursday night saw us back into the action of skiff building. Finishing off the ribs and welcoming the Bendigo Community Bank who paid us a visit to view our progress..The excitement showed when there was discussion
about the type of nautical themed entertainment that might be possible on launch day. I think we have a little way to go yet !!
Sundays activity was based around Richard’s instruction on sharpening tools and scarfing planks. Scarfing involves forming joins in planks that are nearly impossible to see and are as strong as the timber they are joining. Each plank on the skiff (6 on each side of the skiff) is over 6.5 mtrs long and is made up of three sections.
Next Thursday  (6.30pm) we will start forming the fore and aft stems. These are laminated around a pattern using individual timbers and form the curve of the bow and stern of the skiff.
Sunday (10.30 am) will see this continue as well as starting  to scarf the planks.
There is lots to do right at the moment so please feel free to drop in and lend a hand.
Here are a couple of pics to get you motivated.
One shows the guys mulling over how those darn planks line up.
The other shows our power tool wizard Leonie sanding the stock of the rudder.

We have had a very productive few weeks of building and we now have the temporary frames secured to the building jig and all 4 ribs fabricated. (ref attached pic)
The next job is to fabricate the Stems and the keel timber before starting on the planking.

We must mention Mentone & Parkdale community bank  for getting behind this project.
Without their support it would not be happening.


Just a quick update for this week.

Geoffrey recently returned from St Ayles Skiffing in Tassie and Warnambool with lots of stories and enthusiasm.
Last Thursday night we finished the building jig and also had a visit from Rod from the Franklin Living Boat Foundation. It was great to have another skiff person sharing what we are doing.
Sunday was a special day this week as we really started the build. Richard Lozell (our build advisor and club member) gave us all a lesson in safe use of Bote Cote epoxy and demonstrated how to glue one of the ribs together without spreading glue all over the workshop.
So we now have the bow template fitted and the first rib partially completed.
Next Thursday evening (14th) we plan to complete the other 3 ribs.
If we get this done on Thursday night then next Sunday we will start erecting all temporary frames with ribs attached.
if you are planning to come down next Thursday and have access to some timber clamps, could you please bring them along. We have 8 but need about another 16 if possible.
To all those who we have seen so far, thanks for your help. To those who haven’t had a chance to get down yet, don’t worry there is plenty of opportunity still to come.