A PROJECT to build a coastal rowing boat at Lydney passed a milestone on Saturday (March 23).

The Lydney Skiff project aims to see the boat used on the Lydney canal and the River Severn.

On Saturday volunteers, including some potential rowers, gathered at the project’s base on the Lydney Harbour industrial estate to roll the four-person craft over onto customised stands.

Project director Eric Witheridge said: “It is now ready for final preparation and interior fitting of the gunwales (which help the rigidity of the craft), seats and boards.”

The build team, headed by Dave Eatwell, has been working steadily since August 2023 to construct the hull of the 22-foot towing  

The craft is based on the St Ayles skiff which was first developed by the Scottish Fisheries Museum and used by the  Scottish Coastal Rowing Association.boat.

Cold weather prevented the team gluing planks on a number of occasions, but they persisted and all have gained new skills in the build process, said Mr Witheridge.

Volunteer Steve Hibbs said: ‘I’ve never done anything like this before and I’ve learned such a lot.”

Another project member, Adrian Wheaton-James, said that he was “impressed by the lines of the boat.”

They aim to finish the skiff by August with the possibility of taking part in the Great River Race on the Thames in the autumn as well as rowing on the Lydney Canal and the river Severn.

Project members say there is still a lot of work to do and aspiring boat builders of all skill levels are welcome to join them.

Mr Witheridge said: “We meet regularly on Tuesday evenings and all day Thursday and at other times by arrangement.

“Rowing sessions are also being planned with the Bristol group this spring, so if you fancy rowing or being involved do get in touch.’  For more information visit www.lydneyskiff.org or @lydneyskiff on Social media.

In 2020, the Lydney Skiff Project became a community interest company with directors, Eric Witheridge, Carol Tiley and Ian France.

Funding was raised with the help of the Lydney Coastal Community Team and Forest of Dean Economic Partnership