The GalGael will be working on two 20ft ‘West Coast Skiffs’. We wanted to build new boats that would be emblematic of Scotland’s maritime past, and yet would still be useful for our water based activity.
From a list of possibilities, we went with a new design by world-renowned Scottish boat designer, Iain Oughtred. The ‘West Coast Skiff is based on traditional fishing boats of the West Coast, with a plum stem and a sharply raked stern-post she looks distinctly Scottish. Boats of this type would have made up the majority of the West Coast fishing fleet in the last century. Hundreds of these boats chased the herring along the coast. They were prized for being good ‘sea boats’; safe and seaworthy with a high load carrying ability yet fast enough to make it back to the markets.
The slightly modernised design produced by Oughtred increases the ease of build and end use over the heavy boats of the past. At 20 foot long the boat is much more buildable in the timeframe of the project, enabling the construction of two matching vessels to facilitate companion sailing. It will also enable each group of apprentices to be involved in building a single boat from start to finish with a rolling team of participants benefitting from increased skills and a new understanding of their own maritime heritage.
The characteristics that made these boats ideal fishing boats also make them brilliant teaching boats; fast and fun to sail, yet stable and safe. These two boats used in conjunction will allow a huge new range of voyaging options – from heritage sailing experiences to long distance cruises around the Western Isles – GalGael’s Voyaging programme will offer life changing heritage experiences for the people of Glasgow for years to come.