Musselburgh’s Riding of the Marches is a local tradition which goes back over 300 years where, once every 21 years, a procession of locals many on horseback travel around the old town boundaries cutting turfs and declaring ‘ It’s a’ oor ain.’ This year’s event is on Friday 29 July.

Eskmuthe Rowing Club decided to replicate the event on the sea and invited other clubs to join them in a flotilla to visit the two boundary points at each end of the old town. Last Saturday evening we were part of a fleet of 13 skiffs, from as far away as Amble and St Andrews, in a 5 mile figure of eight shaped course from Fisherrow Harbour. As a warm up we all took part in a tug’o’war competition which we aquitted well in the first round then literally fell away when we didn’t get our timing and catches right.

The main event had the thirteen skiffs saluting the Town Champion with vertical oars before setting off west to the first buoy where we all shouted ‘It’s a’oor ain.’ We then turned eastwards past the Levenhall lagoons into the fierce northeasterly in a chop and rolling swell we’ve been accustomed to recently at NB. Another shout and the long stretch back was completed in a total time of about an hour and a half. This was not a race but we were back first. Pippa M, Ann H, Medium, Sandy and Red with St Baldred represented NB and were delighted to support the local club 

Because of the miserable weather conditions and the slippage in the timetable, the planned sprint races were cancelled and we retired to the BBQ, bonfire, live music and socialising with old friends and new. We’re sure Eskmouthe will see this as a very successful event which will almost certainly be repeated and developed.

A sizeable squad of North Berwick rowers made the annual pilgrimage to the seemingly perennial sunshine of Ullapool this weekend and emerged victorious having won the overall club shield for the very first time!

As ever Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club ran a fantastically well organised and thoroughly enjoyable regatta with races taking place on the same form of 2km course that will be used at the World Championships in July.  Both days of racing enjoyed beautiful weather (for those with no fear of jellyfish or hypothermia it was even hot enough to go swimming) and conditions for rowing were excellent, although the waters were more challenging past the headland and out to the turning buoys.

 

With nearly 40 rowers in 20 categories, this regatta was an ideal opportunity to show NB’s strength and depth, and the club did not disappoint.  Every single crew pulled their hearts out in hotly contested races, each placing proved crucial with NBRC winning best club by just 2 points.  A special mention goes to our unstoppable 60+ ladies (including Patsy from Eastern) who were presented with the commemorative Rose Bowl for their victory on Saturday.  I should also congratulate our juniors who were unceremoniously bundled into last minute composite crews and did the club proud as well as securing much needed points.  Several of our rowers, not content with winning medals for NBRC, generously helped out other clubs with empty seats and bagged yet more silverware, including Big John’s first 60+ gold…..shame it was for Crail!  

The ceilidh in the village hall was a really excellent bash, although holding it on the Saturday night was obviously a flagrant attempt to nobble those of a dancing persuasion who had to row or cox the following day.  Luckily the iron constitutions of NB rowers were unaffected by such a night of jollity.  The young band were superb, Lisa from Ullapool taught us a Gaelic rowing song (which I’m sure we all remember) and, for reasons best known to himself, a kindly gent sang us something in Chinese [The national anthem, I believe – Ed.]. 

Once again much of the fun of the regatta was to be had in catching up with friends from other clubs and having spent time chatting with rowers from Coigach, Ulla, Anstruther, Crail and the newly formed Eastern, the general consensus was that the standard of rowing across the board had really improved which made the races exciting and competitive. 

Huge thanks to all those who coxed their crews so superbly, the bosuns for getting Skiff John B repainted and the new lifting rudder attached in record time, Dave for getting the oars looking ship-shape, Hugh for towing, Clive and Issy for working on the safety boats (particularly on her birthday!) and everyone who came to support the club from the shore (I think Rachael eclipsed everyone in the shouting encouragement category).  It was a really wonderful weekend and I can’t wait to go back again next year!  Well done NB!

 

On Saturday 7th May, a team of six North Berwick rowers drove south in anticipation of the first Skiff circumnavigation of Lindisfarne.  The haar was all around us, and the further we travelled, the more unlikely the trip looked.

On arrival across the causeway , we were greeted by the friendly crews from Dunbar, Amble, Alnmouth, and Eskmouth. There was much discussion as to the route, given the poor visibility. Eventually, we all agreed that the most prudent action was to row inland....the Tweed.

Thereafter the journey was much like Tweed expeditions from the last few years. We waited until half tide on the flood, and had a rewarding 4 mile row to the landing near Paxton. The scenery was stunning and we were surrounded by flocks of swans, swifts and herons; amazing!

A relaxed lunch, accompanied by much friendly banter made for a brilliant day in the spirit of Coastal Rowing. 

As is often the case when rowing side-by-side, no one likes to be beaten, and on the return journey, it became a 4 mile burst to see who could make it first to the pier at Berwick. Not quite what we intended, but satisfying for NB nonetheless! (credit to Finlay, Elisa, Sandy and Sheena for their stamina; also Rachel and Phil for the rousing sea-shanties to keep the spirits up). 

Our thanks go to the Amble Rowing club for organising the event; and we hope that next time we will do Lindisfarne

An NBRC crew, coxed by David Davidson, spent a couple of chilly hours of the evening of Wednesday 11 May working with an RNLI crew, led by Simon Cowan, on techniques that could be involved in the rescue of a skiff by a lifeboat. A small but hardy bunch of members braved the biting east wind to watch from the quay wall.  

This is a summary of what we tried.

Long tow (the skiff is pulled by the lifeboat on a long line)

  • The skiff crew shipped oars when the lifeboat came alongside
  • One of the lifeboat crew came aboard the skiff and secured their line through the drainage hole in the rib under the bow seat
  • Once under tow, the skiff cox needed to steer, following the lifeboat

Short tow (the skiff is secured alongside and manoeuvred by the lifeboat)

  • The skiff crew shipped oars when the lifeboat came alongside
  • The lifeboat crew tied to the skiff fore and aft, holding the skiff tight against the lifeboat
  • This enabled the lifeboat to move the skiff forward and turn to port or starboard

Manoeuvring to person overboard (assuming the cox falls overboard and can't be recovered with a few backing strokes)

  • Stroke moves to cox' seat
  • Bow watches and points continually at the person in the water, calling out the approximate distance (most important)
  • New cox uses 2 and 3 to row and turn the skiff
  • Skiff approaches the person overboard upwind, to control the speed

Recovering person from the water

  • Bring person in the water midway along the boat, between stroke and 2 oars, or bow and 3 oars
  • 2 and 3 rowers try to keep their weight central in the boat while reaching to pull the person in the water into the boat
  • All others remaining in the boat move to the opposite side to counterbalance the person coming out of the water
  • If pulling somebody in head first is difficult because of their weight or their legs are wrapping under the boat, try to get them to lie back in the water and put their legs into the boat
  • The effort for two people to pull somebody in is much less because the legs aren't dragging and the body is supported by the water

Letting off a smoke flare

  • For the exercise, the RNLI notified the Coastguard , who then notified the local emergency services that they did not need to respond
  • The bow rower took the flare from the safety bag
  • The flare must be held at the base (the top will be very hot), at full arm's length (away from the face), downwind (so the smoke blows away from the crew) and over the side of the boat (so it can be dropped if it malfunctions and when it expires)
  • The smoke is released by pulling the cap at the top and lasts about one minute
  • The cap came off the flare easily, but the cord inside was awkward to pull

 

First decent evening of the year, better late than never, there wasn't a woolly hat in sight and we had boats on the water from 6:00pm until dusk...starting with juniors, then a mixture of crews with some training for the forthcoming World Skiff Championships at Strangford Lough and other crews out for a leisurely paddle on a calm evening