Skiff Story Part One

GCP’s Skiff Story Part One
We’re building a boat! 

It has long been a dream of GCP to build a boat. This year, thanks to funders including National Lottery Heritage Fund, HSBC, Edinburgh Airport and John Lewis, we are now realising that dream.  

We’re building a Scottish clinker-style rowing boat known as a St Ayles Skiff.

Skiff story - St Ayles Skiff

Campbell, Skiff Project Leader and GCP’s Wood Workshop Assistant Manager is excited to share more about the opportunity, 

‘It is great for our members and pre-apprentices. They are learning new woodworking skills and finding out about Edinburgh’s coastal history. Once it’s launched, members will be able to learn to row and practise boat maintenance – all this whilst developing skills, confidence and well-being along the way!’

‘This is a unique project to reconnect people with a history which has nearly vanished. It is connecting us with our past but also expanding our horizons, increasing skills and abilities – there is so much potential for the future.’

A team effort – progress to date

GCP’s talented woodwork team, members, pre-apprentices and corporate volunteers are building a boat and have been making good progress.  

The skiff is being built out at Granton Lighthouse Depot and we are collaborating with the Newhaven Rowing Club who will teach us how to row and handle the boat safely.

The build is on schedule for completion this autumn. So far, the strongback has been assembled and the station moulds mounted. The key elements of the boat’s backbone, which comprises the aprons, stems, frames, hog and keel, have been laminated and glued up, ready to be joined together and shaped before planking commences.

Campbell is being kept very busy, 

‘I am working 4 days a week on the boat until completion. In June, we concentrated on planking the hull, using two joints new to members. I am also producing videos and a training manual to help members learn.’   

Our Skiff Story 8
Skiff Story part one e

Skiff design and community

The skiff design is based on the Fair Isle Yoal and inspired by the historic tradition of Fife miners’ rowing regattas.  

Community engagement and participation are core aims of skiff building, so it’s the perfect fit for the Grassmarket Community Project. Boat building is also a core aim of the project which utilises the Ullapool Skiff Build Handbook and a plywood kit provided by Jordan Boats. Thank you to Alec Jordan for his support and beautiful photography!

Developed in Scotland, there are more than 350 skiffs built by communities worldwide. It is now a recognised international class of boat and a popular, accessible craft for communities to build and to participate in rowing activities.  

Campbell explains, 

‘The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA) was set up to resurrect coastal rowing, using traditional boats, techniques and skills. Skiffs are easy for amateurs to build, they’re seaworthy and there is a whole community we have become part of. 

‘The hope is that we will eventually row with, and against, other clubs. It gives GCP members the opportunity to get out of the city and enjoy the benefits of the sea.’   

This is a unique project to reconnect people with a history which has nearly vanished. It is connecting us with our past but also expanding our horizons, increasing skills and abilities. There is so much potential for the future.

Skiff model
Skiff Story part one b

Next steps

There will be exciting developments over the summer.  

Look out for the two scale models of the skiff, a Members’ competition to choose the name of the boat, plus the design of the paint scheme and strip for GCP’s skiff row team! 

We also have trips planned to Scotland’s Maritime and Fisheries Museums to increase our understanding of the long history of Scotland’s boat building.  

The project is also inspiring creativity across our GCP community.

For example, Members have been working with Scots singer, Joss Cameron, to compose our own sea shantie.

Campbell is excited and delighted with the project,

‘The build is enabling us to do so much more than just make a skiff!’

Be part of GCP’s Skiff Story

Can you help support GCP’s Skiff project?


Our key funders for this project are National Lottery Heritage Fund, HSBC, Edinburgh Airport and John Lewis & Partners. We thank them for their essential continued support.

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How to support GCP

Please help us to keep providing support and opportunities to vulnerable people. There are various ways you can support our community. You can donate, fund or sponsor, support our social enterprises and volunteer.

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The Grassmarket Community Project’s Members Programme relies on the generosity of our customers, funders and donors. Our key funders for this area of our work are Nationwide Community Grants, The Robertson Trust and EVOC/Scottish Government Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund. We thank them for their essential continued support.

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