International Crews

Ann in bow seat

Ann in bow seat

A Canadian rowed with a Scottish crew last weekend and yesterday an Irish woman rowed with a Canadian crew. Ann Fee, chairperson of Killyleagh Skiff Rowing Club, where next year’s Skiffie Worlds are being held, joined us on our regular Tuesday row. After the row we went for lunch and had a chance to hear about the nine skiffs that have been built along the County Down coast as well as all the preparations that are underway for next year’s big event. It was a delight meeting Ann and appreciate her taking the time to come and visit us. The St Ayles skiff has a wonderful way of bringing people together from around the world.

Exciseman’s Chase 2015

Stewart in his flashy Ayle of Quinte Skiff Club T-shirt

Stewart in his flashy Ayle of Quinte Skiff Club T-shirt

Ayle of Quinte Skiff Club’s Stewart Bates coxed the Royal West St Ayles skiff to a second place finish in the 2015 Exciseman’s Chase. The chase, an 8km time trial long distance race from Maidens harbour out to Culzean Castle and back: The race begins with a runner setting of from the starters tent with a token,the token on board, the skiffs set off at intervals, destination Gas House Bay under the shadow of Culzean Castle.  The plan is again for a runner to take the token from the arriving skiff to exchange on shore for a bottle of whisky back to boat, (with crew changes if available) and then pressing under all power of oar and arm back to Maidens.

Congratulations to Stewart and the Royal West crew from all of us in Canada.

Great photos on flickr:

The Last Stage


We knew the last stage of the RAID was going to be a challenge as we would be leaving the protected waters of the Bay of Quinte and heading out onto Lake Ontario. The row started in an easterly direction from Prinyer’s Cove before heading south through the Upper Gap between Prince Edward County and Amherst Island. We were making good progress despite the winds steadily increasing to 15 knots and the waves building to between 3 and 4 feet, both straight on our bows. We had gone about 6K, a quarter of the distance back to the marina, but it was now time to start heading west. With the new direction the waves were hitting us broadside. Rowing on the windward side, you were just as likely to catch air as water and on the leeward side you had to be careful not to get your oar buried under a foot and a half of water (shorter oars might of been an asset). We were faced with another 18K of rowing under these conditions. It was hard to tell whether things were going to improve or get worse. Certainly if we were to keep going and decided to turn back later we would still be faced with taking the waves broadside but on the opposite tack. We chose to turn back at this point, allowing us to keep both wind and waves directly on our sterns. Very disappointing, especially as the first stage had to be cancelled. Our end-of-RAID BBQ went ahead as planned and the disappointments were soon forgotten and our accomplishments celebrated.

Reach Two


On today’s row, the forth stage of the RAID, we were accompanied by Carol and Maxine, two coaches from Belleville’s Quinte Rowing Club. We had perfect conditions, especially for their Hudson touring double on this 22K stretch of the Bay of Quinte called the Adolphus Reach. Even with a half hour stop along the way we were able to cover the distance in just three hours. Maybe the ice cold Beaus beer awaiting us at the finish had something to do with the fast pace.




RAID Resumes

IMG_4718After having to cancel Saturday’s row, we launched the boats today at Massassauga Point to start the second stage of the RAID. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm, with a westerly wind that was in our favour. After a stop at Northport for a crew change and lunch the wind had picked up to 25 knots and the waves had reached three feet. Didn’t take long to row to Green Point where we left the boats at a dock, ready to resume the third stage of the RAID to the south shore of Picton Bay.







RAID Delayed

Looking west from from Belleville's Norris Whitney Bridge

Looking west towards Trenton from Belleville’s Norris Whitney Bridge

Our RAID was to start this morning but unfortunately strong winds, cold temperatures and a continuous downpour forced us to cancel today. It was very disappointing, especially since some members of the Quinte Rowing Club were going to accompany us with a quad and a safety boat with additional crew. We will now start out from Belleville on Monday, skipping the first stage in order to stick to our planned schedule. The Trenton to Belleville row might be completed as a separate row at a later date.

In preparation for today’s row, we had trailered the boats to Trenton yesterday afternoon where we had a great meeting with the Trenton Rowing & Paddling Club. One of the skiffs was launched and 8 members from their club got a chance to experience rowing in a St Ayles skiff. The response was very positive.

Looking ahead to next week, the weather improves considerably.





Napanee River Paddle


Napanee River Paddle 2014

Napanee River Paddle 2014

As a warmup to next week’s RAID on the Bay of Quinte we will be rowing both skiffs on the Napanee River this Thursday. Several kayaks and a St Lawrence River Skiff will join in the 14K row which includes a stop halfway for lunch and a pint.

The Napanee River is renowned for not only its beauty, but for the fact that it actually has its own tide! The river is known to rise and lower regularly between six to sixteen inches due to the unusual winds which blow across Lake Ontario from mainly the southwest.  When the wind pushes, it moves the water to the north shore, and then the water rushes back when the wind calms. The back and forth effect is called “seiche” and can occur over a number of days.

Ready to roll