Rowing in Portobello

Portobello skiff Ice Breaker

Brief History

Portobello is Edinburgh's seaside, which in it's hey-day attracted people from far-afield for days out & holidays. They used to come out on the old trams. These days it is quite different, but still a lovely place to be. Some people still come for days out, but with the advent of package holidays & ease of travel many people go abroad instead. The first rowing club in Portobello was started in the early 1870s, & for a while it had 2 rowing clubs: Portobello Amateur Rowing Club and the Eastern Amateur Rowing Club.

Portobello has an amazing community web site, which has lots of interesting things on it, including a collection of old rowing postcards.

Boat building

Skeleton of new skiff
skiff bow planing the keel planing the keel 1st plank 2nd planks ready to go 3rd planks on
Plank held on with wooden clamps Planking complete Skiff turned over Gunwales & seating added Making the oars Bow of skiff

The Scottish Coastal Rowing Association was formed on 29 May 2010 to revive & encourage coastal rowing & racing around the scottish coastline & lochs.

One skiff was built in Portobello in 2009, & was named Ice Breaker, as a result of a competition run at Towerbank Primary School. The second skiff was started last September & is due for completion in April - it's yet to be named.

A number of other skiffs have been / are being built locally, including Dunbar, North Berwick, Port Seton, Newhaven, as well as 'across the water' in North Queenferry & Anstruther; further afield there are skiffs at Port Soy, Ullapool & Achiltabuie. So boat building & rowing have caught on in a big way.

The design of the St Ayles Skiff was commissioned from Iain Oughtred by the Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther, Fife. Jordan Boats has made a kit for the design. The basic principle of this project is that the boats to be raced should be available at as low a price as possible. The estimated cost of completion of one of these skiffs is around 3000.

Our new boat is due to be launched on 17th April 2011, so this page will be updated then.


Ice Breaker awaiting her next crew
Ice Breaker awaiting her next crew Coffee stop at Fisherrow Ice Breaker returns to shore 1st plank 2nd planks ready to go 3rd planks on
Plank held on with wooden clamps Planking complete Skiff turned over Gunwales & seating added Making the oars Bow of skiff

We have managed to continue rowing throughout the winter, although less frequently, due to reduced daylight hours & sometimes adverse weather. However, most saturdays, 2 -3 crews have ventured intrepidly out, sometimes rowing back & forward along the beach, & other times venturing to Fisherow for a cup of coffee, or rowing out in the direction of Inch Keith island (which is much further away than it looks!) As we launch the skiff from the beach in Portobello, it's hard to avoid wet feet, which has at times been a challenge during the winter! Occasionally, we stop in at the Beach House for a welcome cup of coffee / tea, not to mention delicious cakes! Some manage a weekday row too.

Now the evenings are lengthening (early April) we are about to start evening rowing again, so Ice Breaker, & the new boat when it's launched can look forward to being well used in the coming months.

People in our club row for all sorts of reasons: leisure, exercise, racing and some for all these reasons; we encompass a wide age range from under 18 to people over 60. We are a friendly club who welcome new members.


Portobello Sailing, Kayaking & Rowing Club


Scottish Coastal Rowing Association Scottish Coastal Rowing Project Row Porty

Boat Building

Boat Kit for the St Ayles skiff Jordan Boats


BBC: Portobello revives regatta days The Guardian - 12th April 2011

Photo Gallery

Building 2nd skiff: Jenny Skylark


Launching Ice Breaker Skiff building in Porty - April 2011


Painting Jenny Skylark Launching Jenny Skylark Velocity-M - Mo Edward

Other Clubs

Lyme Regis Gig Club

Valid CSS! Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Web design: Patsy James