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Sharing the ‘Cariad’

04 Feb 2016

Sharing the ‘Cariad’ Image

Melbourne’s own Welsh Church hopes to offer Docklanders the chance to get out on the water onboard its rowing skiff, “Cariad”.

The boat’s name is the Welsh word for love and the church community built the vessel in its own hall in LaTrobe St during 2013.

Last month members of the Welsh Church rowed the skiff from Williamstown to Docklands where it set up for three days to give locals the opportunity to try out the skiff.

While bad weather meant it was difficult to get out on the water, Reverend Jim Barr is hopeful of bringing the boat back to Docklands, where it can be used more widely.

“In an environment like Docklands it has such an enormous potential for putting people back in touch with the water in a way that doesn’t cost the earth,” Rev. Barr said. “It’s community based and non-competitive.”

“We’ve got a boat that spends a lot of time locked in a shed and I’d like to see people using it.”

“The water and the harbour will become something people can really participate in and enjoy,” he said.

As Rev. Barr explained, Cariad is part of a global movement of community boat-building and boat racing of vessels called St Ayles skiffs.

Australian boat designer Iain Oughtred was commissioned to design the boats and they are manufactured in a pre-cut plywood kit that can be built by amateurs, Rev. Barr explained.

The first skiff was launched in Scotland in 2009 and there are now more than 200 boats constructed or launched worldwide.

“Worldwide, the whole pattern is people buy them and build them, they are essentially just glued together,” Rev. Barr said.

The Melbourne Welsh Church spent about one day per week building the boat in 2013.

The church itself is located at 320 LaTrobe St and was founded in 1853 during the gold rush to cater to the influx of Welsh people immigrating to Melbourne.

“It (Cariad) was built in the church hall and had to be manhandled out,” Rev. Barr said. “We borrowed about 20 construction workers from a nearby site and had to demolish part of the church to get it out.”

Cariad was one of the first St Ayle’s skiffs to be launched in Australia, making its debut at Elwood beach on Australia Day in 2014.

“We had about 50 people lined up to row it off the beach at Elwood,” Rev. Barr said. “Our youngest rower was five and the eldest was in her eighties.”

The boats seat four rowers and a coxswain. Weighing around 150 kg, the boats can be moved by a crew of adults.

So far, the church has used Cariad for community rowing activities, has participated in the first Australian St Ayles Skiff Regatta in 2015 and will attend the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival this March.

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