Traditional Boat Building
In August 2001, a 3,000 year old dug out canoe was found preserved in the mudflats of the Tay near Abernethy. At 9 metres long and built from a single tree trunk, the Carpow Logboat is a reminder that boatbuilding has always been part of the life on the Tay and central to the region’s maritime heritage.
The skills of boatbuilding have been in decline since the Tay Salmon Fishing Fleet was disbanded and now the skills of making traditional local boats as used on the Tay are almost completely lost. Only a few individuals retain the knowledge of how to make local craft.
As with our traditional building skills initiatives, the Trust’s boat building projects seek to raise awareness of the regional heritage and pass on local knowledge to future generations as the demand for traditional boats begins to return through a resurgent interest in coastal rowing.
At a training venue on the Dupplin Estate, a wooden flat bottomed skiff has been constructed under the leading guidance of the Galgael Trust, with the goal of improving the confidence, self-awareness and communication and interpersonal skills of the Perth High School participants. The project involved building a new non-kit-designed rowing boat and set of oars, requiring the development of skills in traditional joint making, planning, using a drawknife, frame making, plank fixing, caulking and measuring.
Students’ feedback demonstrate that they:
“feel much more confident working with people now than […] before.”
“have learnt new skills” and that they “might be able to get a job now.”
The 10 month project took place at the old sawmill on the Dupplin Estate, was managed by Tay Landscape Partnership/PKHT staff, and delivered by boat builder Jason Bradley with Perth High School staff co-ordinating and supervising the schoolchildren.
The learning experience for all has been incredible.
“It takes time to build a boat – no instant gratification for our young folk!”
Perth High School Supervising Teacher
Patience, commitment, making mistakes, repairing mistakes, teamwork, individual responsibility, woodworking skills, safety awareness, listening to instructions, repetitive tasks, tolerance, resilience, building relationships, interdependence, initiative … all were developed and applied through the project. As a result, each young person has gained massively from the experience.
The completed vessel was launched in June 2017 at Willowgate Activity Centre and christened “The Silvery Pearl” by HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. Now complete, the boat is in use by Perth High Outdoor Education Department to support their Duke of Edinburgh expedition programme.
The St Ayles skiff is very stable, easy to manoeuvre, and can be rowed by complete beginners so is a perfect platform for introducing young and adult learners to traditional building skills and boatmanship. The Silvery Pearl is testament to what can be achieved:
“We built this, and now we’re rowing it”
Perth High School pupil
A major project led by the Trust over 10 years, to excavate, recover, conserve and display a 3,000 year old log-boat from the Tay estuary. The results, presented in an award-winning monograph, led to the innovative Loch Tay logboat experiment.
Loch Tay Logboat
In 2009 the Trust led an exciting project, inspired by the 3,000 year old Carpow vessel, to build a Bronze Age log-boat using replica tools and techniques. The finished boat was paddled across Loch Tay and is now a feature of the Scottish Crannog Centre.