Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Boats on the go.

Its great to see plenty of boat action going on in the GalGael workshop right now. The St. Ayles skiff project with St Mungo's Academy and Smithycroft Secondary is nearing completion and looking great. We now have two local schools, Govan High and Lourdes Secondary pupils working on a second skiff and have got off to a great start with the formers in place and the group busy sawing and planing.

If you would like to build one of these 22ft rowing skiffs with your school or centre then check out the link below.

Both projects are being supervised by Ben Duffin who is also working on repairing Orcuan, our 32ft Hebridean Galley. She is back in the workshop after incurring some damage in the summer. Ben has been very active over the past while juggling all these projects but is finding out more about GalGael and what we do as well as what Orcuan means to us.

"In 2000 the Gal Gael launched Orcuan, a 30 ft Birlinn or Highland Galley. She is a very traditional Scottish boat and a thing of rare beauty. She is also an integral part of Gal Gael’s operations and much more than that an emblem, a symbol of what the Trust stands for. With this in mind you can imagine the feeling of dismay that went around the workshop when people heard that she had gone down in a storm while moored in Millport. She was saved from breaking up by Martin and Norie, lifted out of the water and eventually brought to the workshop at Fairley Street to be repaired.

I started working on her a month ago and the work is going well. Looking at the damage it soon became clear that in addition to replacing the four broken planks much of the internal structure would need to be replaced. She will need totally new seats (known as thwarts on a boat) and much of the structure associated with them in addition to many new frames and sister frames. A group of volunteers and myself have removed the first two thwarts and cleaned up the damaged areas. We have put in new structure for the two forward seats and got the first seat finished. The mast stands on a piece of wood known as the fish which has had four new knees made to replace broken ones from before.

So far all the new timber used has been sourced in Scotland by Gal Gael’s Timber business, from a boat builders perspective it is a rare thing to know exactly where the wood you use comes from and who milled it to planks. This connection is part of why this is such a wonderful place to be working.There is a lot of work still to do, but with a growing team of very skilled and eager volunteers learning as they work the work will move quickly. There is a lot of interest in the project in the workshop, we often have to explain what we are doing and how or why. I am frequently reminded how much of an honour it is to get a chance to be involved in Gal Gael at all, let alone be repairing the vessels that has been described to me more than once as ‘the soul of Gal Gael’."


Ben and volunteer Davy with Orcuan.