The Race is On!

Wow have certainly been busy over the winter months. Planning is well underway for the 2015 St Ayles Skiff Regatta in Hobart and Franklin. Lots of fundraising activities are being planned and sponsorships sought. A huge and heartfelt thank you to those local businesses who have already become involved: Shop@Franklin a unique little vintage/retro boutique in the heart of Franklin, owned and operated by Southerly Dolling, an active community member on and off the water; Franklin Marine supplier of all things nautical, owned and operated by mariner and more, Laurence Burgin; and Petty Sessions, licensed Gourmet Cafe and Gallery.

For all the latest news and information go to the Tasskiffie 2015 official website and don’t forget to bookmark it.

Shop@Franklin for vintage and retro chic


Petty Sessions – Coffee and gourmet dining overlooking the Huon River at Franklin


Franklin Marine – for all things nautical and more

There is also exciting news that a new St Ayles Skiff  will be built in Franklin. Funded by a generous grant from Bendigo Bank‘s Community Fund, the Living Boat Trust is about to take possession, any day now, of a new kit from Robert Ayliffe at Stray Dog Boat Works in South Australia. The project will be supervised by master boat builder Peter Heading and will be an inclusive, community boat build in the tradition of the St Ayles Skiff worldwide movement. The new skiff should be ready to compete in the 2015 regatta.

All hands on deck for shaping the steamed wood during construction of Imagine by the Women on Water


Building a boat – building community

St Ayles Skiff Regatta in Franklin

The Huon Valley turned on one of its picture perfect autumn days for the St Ayles Skiff Regatta at Franklin on Sunday 30th March.

Women on Water hosted the event and competition was provided by crews from Cygnet, Taroona, Franklin, Huonville, Castle Forbes Bay/Port Huon, Dover, Geeveston, Gecko and the Living Boat Trust.

Two local community built boats battled it out for line honours and overall best times. Novices rowed alongside seasoned rowers with friendly rivalry and great fun was had by all in this inclusive sport.

The St Ayles Skiff phenomenon is growing worldwide and Franklin is at the forefront of its development in Australia. The regatta at Franklin was the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, however our cousins the Kiwis are snapping at our heels as they have recently launched their second skiff with more to come.

The Regatta was a rehearsal for the St Ayles Skiff Championships to be held next year in conjunction with the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Organisers are looking forward to hosting crews from as far away as Scotland (the home of St Ayles Skiff competition), New Zealand and Victoria.

Congratulations to Jane Johnson and her team for organising the day, and thanks go to our generous sponsors: Star Anise, DS Cafe, Bendigo Bank, Village Antiques, Harcourts Huonville, Franklin Marine, Franklin Ecocruises, Petty Sessions Gourmet Cafe and the Living Boat Trust.

Huonvile Primary School staff’s men’s team.


Star Anise Women’s 1 km Heats: Castle Forbes Bay 7min 57.25 sec, Franklin Workforce 8.5.3, Living Boat Trust 8.7.28 Geeveston Community Centre 8.14.75, Cygnet Two 8.47.75, Taroona 8.47.84, Huonville 8.49.78, Cygnet One 8.56.444. Finals: Castle Forbes Bay 7.43.52; Franklin Workforce 7. 51.38.

Harcourts Men’s 1km Heats: Taroona 8.13.82, Huonville 7.55.56, Cyg Two 7.48.16, CFB 7.43.16, GeCo 7.26.53, Cyg One 7.17.04, FW 7.15.90, LBT 7.14.60. Finals: LBT 7.09.44 FW 7.21.15

Bendigo Community Bank Mixed 1km Heats: Cyg Two 7.31.94, CFB 7.51.25, Taroona 8.26.43, GeCo 8.19.56, Cyg One 8.15.81, FW 8.00.47, CFB 7.51.25, Cyg One 7.31.94. Finals Cyg Two 6.52.53, CFB 7.54.06.

Petty Sessions Women’s 250 m: FW 1min 29.10sec, Taroona 1.30.03, GeCo 1.30.38, CFB 1.31.84, Cyg Two 1.33.91, Huonville 1.34.44, LBT 1.34.47, Cyg One 1.40.10

Franklin Marine Men’s 250 m: CFB 1.12.65, Cyg One 1.12.90, FW 1.16.60, Cyg Two 1.22.69, Taroona 1.23.44 LBT 1.23.87, GeCo 1.26.31, Huonvile 1.27.35

Franklin EcoCruises Mixed 250 m: GeCo 1.22.82, LBT 1.24.28, FW 1.24.53, CFB 1.27.59, Huonville 1.27.84, Cyg Two 1.27.85, Taroona 1.30, Cgy One 1.30.94.

Village Antiques 2 km award: Franklin 14.31.87, Cygnet 15.50.59

Living Boat Trust award for the most points: Franklin Workforce

DS Cafe Best Dressed Award: Castle Forbes Bay Women’s Team


Geeveston Community Centre’s women’s team.


The Living Boat Trust’s men’s team magnanimous in victory.

Cygnet community boat “The Swan”

Castle Forbes Bay women’s team in full regalia.

Living Boat Trust Men’s team.

“Cygnet” Turns Into a Beautiful Swan

 Say “St Ayles Skiff” and the Huon Valley is starting to see double! Cygnet Township proudly launched Tasmanian St Ayles Skiff Number 2 at a very special ceremony on March 1st at the Cygnet Sailing and Yacht Club.


On behalf of the “Women on Water” Franklin-based group it was a pleasure to be “special invitees”. All who attended were impressed with the workmanship in the skiff’s sleek design, paint and special finishing touches. The “Cygnet” skiff was named “The Swan”. The townships gathered to share the community spirit and pride in being part of the project. It was an obvious demonstration of the success of a health and well-being grant administered by the Huon Valley Health Services Advisory Committee.

The launch was a prelude to the Cygnet Township’s 150th celebration and an inaugural St Ayles Skiff event for the Cygnet Regatta was a great way to reinforce the benefits of being involved. The weather conditions were perfect, many skiff crews were involved, there was friendly rivalry and camaraderie with both St Ayles Skiffs, “Imagine” and “The Swan” gliding through the water, side by side.

And there’s more to come. The Focus on Franklin St Ayles Skiff Regatta is to be held from 9am on Sunday March 30 on the Huon River. There are more crews, events and opportunities to be involved. This is an open invitation to form or join a team and be involved with community rowing. For more information, visit     or phone 62663224

Focus on Franklin 2014

Focus on Franklin 2014 is shaping up to be bigger, brighter and better than ever. The inaugural St Ayles Skiff Regatta is still open to team entries and with the inclusion of the new skiff ‘Cygnet’, some exciting on water action looks promising.

For more information about this and other Focus on Franklin events and activities, check out their website


Wooden Boat Celebrations


The summer to autumn boating calendar in 2014, particularly south of Hobart, is packed. In early February, the Kettering Wooden Boat Rally should attract visitors from all round Australia, followed closely by the northern version of the Wooden Boat Rally in Launceston.

Cygnet is next, in early March, with a “special event regatta” to celebrate a 150th anniversary. This year, St Ayles Skiffs will appear in the events with inaugural races of community rowing boats. Franklin and Cygnet each have community-built 22ft St Ayles Skiffs, part of a worldwide boat-building phenomenon. This has seen over 100 skiffs built in the last 5 years, resulted in a World Championship in Ullapool, Scotland in July last year, promoted community spirit and interaction and increased the active involvement of a wide range of people in water-based activities. The Cygnet-built St Ayles Skiff will be officially launched on March 1st as part of the Cygnet Regatta.

On the last weekend in March, the “Focus on Franklin” features the first St Ayles Skiff Regatta in Tasmania on Sunday March 30. The day before, as part of the town’s community festival, there will be river-based activities such as the “Roger Harwood Trophy”, “come and try St Ayles Skiffs”, cruises, tours, sailing and rowing events for all ages. As a lead-up to the Sunday regatta, the Saturday March 29 evening solar-light boat parade will also feature the skiffs, as well as Grebes and a variety of other watercraft. It is a unique event not to be missed.

And there’s even more planned for the 2015 calendar. These St Ayles Skiff events are a prelude to the Tasmanian Festival to be held in 2015, which kicks off with Hobart’s International Wooden Boat Festival celebrations from February 6.

Nominations are open now for the inaugural Focus on Franklin St Ayles Skiff Regatta 2014. Just form a group of 5 for men’s, women’s and mixed events to be a part of it, or put your name down to join in. Entry forms are available from Franklin Post Office, ph 62663224 or visit

It’s Official! St Ayles Skiff Regatta in Franklin 2015



February 8 –15, 2015







International St Ayles Skiffs



 The excitement is starting to build….


Event under construction!

ph 62663224


















IMAGINE ….rowing to Cygnet!

An overcast, cold November day in the Huon saw the St Ayles Skiff crew on “Imagine” head off for the 30km voyage into Port Cygnet.

On board were the “Women On Water” members who had also been the builders of the skiff.

The “jabble”(wild water) that started around the Port Huon fish farms, was well controlled as the crew aimed for the destination half-way point at Petcheys Bay for a quick crew change.

Bullock and Brabazon Points were rounded and the safe, quiet waters of Petcheys Bay were a welcome sight for the changeover.

Arriving at Petcheys Bay after a long row from Franklin

The new rowers headed into worsening weather with turbulent swells and rain, but undeterred, manoeuvred around Beaupre Point before heading into the relative safety of Drip Beach.

There, some of the Cygnet community members boarded to complete the final leg of the five-hour journey into the Cygnet Sailing Club.

Arriving in Cygnet, with John Walduck’s ‘Emma’ in the background.

A new St Ayles Skiff is being built in Cygnet and community members are looking forward to a week of trying out  Franklin’s “Imagine”.

 It was a memorable trip for all, with new crews set to row back to Franklin next week. “Imagine” will then be available for teaching Franklin Primary School children “On the Water” skills.

Rowing is part of the heritage of the Huon, so it was a welcome sight to have the 1923-built King Billy Pine boat  “Gemma”, (owned and skippered by John Walduck), an important part of the neighbourly adventure.

Sculling Opportunity


Picture this – gliding sleekly along the Huon River from Franklin within spectacular scenery, in synchronised exercise aboard long and aerodynamically slim rowboats, enjoying the exercise and fun as part of a coordinated team.

“Women on Water” are looking for two new crews of ladies to take on the challenge and learn to scull. The last two courses are due to run over summer, commencing with a free “Come and Try” day on October 28 at 6pm.


Five courses have already been completed through “Women On Water” in 2012, with the backing of the Huon Rowing Club. Under the guidance of experienced coach Tim Brown, crews of ladies now row regularly as Huon Club members and even competed in their first Masters Regatta at Lake Barrington in April. The ladies entered single, double and quad rowing events, which was quite an achievement.


To find out more or join in, phone Jane on 62663224 or 0400717140 to book in. 



The first “Come and Try” day, December 2011

‘Imagine’ Commencing Time Trials

The St Ayles Skiff “Imagine” is getting ready for the summer season with time trials on the Huon. Over a 2km course, crews of five will battle against time as preparation for the Swiftsure Regatta in December.

The course is based on the St Ayles Skiff World Championships in Ullapool with a 1km outward journey, turn and 1km home stretch. The previous best from the crew that competed in Ullapool was 15minutes, with some of the International clubs on Loch Broom achieving just over 13 minutes to win the events.

The Huon River at Franklin will hopefully offer less “jabble” (wild water), but crews have to battle all the elements. This is a leadup to future regattas and other events proposed within the wonderful Huon Valley environment.

On October 25, anyone interested in joining or having an input into “Women on Water” should meet at the Living Boat Trust at 6pm to discuss (amongst other things) a calendar of events, such as a proposed long row to Cygnet in the next few weeks.

The construction of a second St Ayles Skiff in Cygnet is progressing well so the voyage over to Port Cygnet would promote and reinforce community interaction. Rowing is part of the heritage of Huon Valley communities.

For further information, phone Jane on 62663224


The 2km course on Loch Broom in Ullapool – note the green and yellow Tasmanian flag.

From Little Things, Big Things Have Grown

Ullapool, Scotland. Franklin, Tasmania. The two are now well-acquainted.

Aussies in Scotland

In 2009 a new arrival in the small town of Franklin on the Huon River was impressed by her change of environment, after choosing a different lifestyle to that offered by the mainland. Rowing was an option to enjoy the river surroundings, a standout feature of the town. Rowing friends were needed.

In 2011, the rowing friends applied for a health grant to learn how to scull, sail, row and build a wooden boat that could be used by the community. Calling themselves “Women On Water”, over eighty participants from the Huon Valley joined in.

The building of the St Ayles Skiff was on the recommendation of supervising boatbuilder Peter Laidlaw, who had heard of its community background. It is an achievement of respected designer Ian Outred and is based on wooden fishing boats that formed the backbone of Scottish coastal villages historically. More recently, around 100 communities in the world have built, rowed and joined in on the interest created.

At Franklin on December 8, 2012, the launch of the first St Ayles Skiff in Australia, made a wonderful statement. The name chosen for the Skiff – “Imagine”- represented ideas that have become opportunities.

In February 2013, “Women On Water” retraced a part of Tasmanian heritage by rowing the St Ayles Skiff on “Tawe Nunnugah”, a 200km journey from Cockle Creek to Hobart for the Wooden Boat Festival. Another milestone was created. Five months later a team participated in 12 events at the inaugural World Championships in Ullapool. Entering women’s, mixed and men’s teams, “Women On Water” grew to “People On Water”.

From small beginnings, big things have grown. Cygnet community is about to commence building a St Ayles Skiff. Taroona start their project in September, mainland Australia has three in progress and New Zealand, ten. Tasmania is aiming to offer the first St Ayles Skiff Regatta in conjunction with the Wooden Boat Festival in 2015. The potential for other groups and individuals to be involved is there.

Ullapool in 2013 is a sure sign of community spirit and interaction. For individuals, especially in a technological world, it is about personal challenges outdoors, support, encouragement, fun, health and well-being for a wide age range. And about heritage in the form of wooden boats.

More pictures from the Ullapool team…