RowAround Scotland attempt re-starts from Seil

Seil coastal rowers Mary Norris, Sue Fenton and Jan Fraser carried out a microplastics trawl during their first voyage since the latest lockdown. Photo by James Fenton

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Seil skiffies have the honour of re-starting an ambitious voyage to circumnavigate the Scottish coast.

The island’s community-built and owned skiff, Selkie, will row to Oban next month and pass the baton to the town’s rowing club in the first part of a relay that will join up coastal rowing groups across Scotland.

Weather depending, the first-leg of the journey from Seil to Oban Sailing Club, passing up the Sound of Kerrera, should take about two hours.

Three skiffs – Cruachan from the Loch Awe rowing club, Seil’s Selkie and Oban’s St Moluag will then cruise from Oban in company to Port Appin where a brand new skiff is about to be launched by the community.

Try-a-rows will be organised for the public around scenic Castle Stalker, before the baton goes to Ardnamurchan for its journey northwards.

The RowAround challenge was due to begin in Gretna in March 2020 but had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.

Funding from Event Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 was rolled over to this year to continue the programme of activities.

More details of the RowAround, including dates and stages, will be released later but the plan is to finish on October 27 at Loch Tummel, coinciding with the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association’s AGM on its 10th anniversary.

One of the organisers, Sue Fenton of Seil Coastal Rowing Club, said: ‘Seil is rather lucky to have the honour of starting of the challenge.’

Monday May 17 was the first day that coastal rowing clubs were allowed to row again as an outdoor contact sport.

The Isle of Seil Coastal Rowing Club was one of the first to get back on the water with two weeks until the challenge starts next month.

As well as a good workout, the club boat Selkie was used to carry out a microplastics trawl, part of a citizen science project being undertaken by coastal rowing clubs as part of RowAround Scotland.

Samples collected will be analysed at the Scottish Association for Marine Science at Dunstaffnage to find out the abundance and type of microplastics in the waters all around the Scottish coast.