TWO local boats took part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee pageant on the River Thames in London on Sunday.
The Moray Gig, based at Findhorn, and ‘Obair-Na-Ghaol’, representing Banffshire, joined around 1,000 other boats and craft from across the UK and the Commonwealth.
A crew of 14 rowed the Moray Gig 14 miles along the Thames, into a headwind, along with two sister gigs, and a total of 250 rowing boats.
With reserve and shore crew, a total of 22 youngsters and leaders were associated with the Gig’s endeavour, and they were also cheered on by many family members who supported them.
‘The Northern Scot’ had followed the crew’s preparations in the months leading up to the Thames Pageant.
Gig leader Gary Hunt said that the day lived up to all expectations. "It was a great atmosphere and really good fun, despite the weather," he said.
"Everybody got to see the Queen, and we all gave her a wave. Just as we went under Tower Bridge, the heavens opened.
"It wasn’t easy for the organisers, and you had to keep an eye out for all the other boats, but it was great fun," he added.
‘Obair-Na-Ghaol’ – Scots Gaelic for ‘Labour of Love’ – was built by the Aberdeen Asset Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy. Clare Russell, Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, paid tribute to the work done on preparing the boat.
It was a particularly proud day for Alex Slater who, with some help from friends Sinclair Young and Willie Simpson, built ‘Obair-Na-Ghaol’ from scratch 14 years ago.
It took the retired carpenter, who learned his trade at the Jones of Buckie Shipyard, 18 months to build her completely by hand. She was named in recognition of the dedication involved in the build process.
The boat is an exact replica of a scaffie – a traditional herring drifter – named ‘Gratitude BCK 252’. She was built in 1896 by George Innes of Portknockie and worked the inshore fisheries of the Moray Firth.
The original plan was one of only a few drawings of this type of vessel that have survived through the years. ‘Obair-Na-Ghaol’ was launched in 1996, exactly 100 years after ‘Gratitude’.
Mr Slater said: "I never dreamed when we built her all those years ago that one day I would be sailing ‘Obair-Na-Ghaol’ in front of the Queen.
The boat will be taking part in the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy on June 23 and 24.