Building the boat was an amazing experience….but we wanted to test it out! So we signed up for the Portsoy boat festival and precoded to have the time of our lives! For Katie and I the trip to Portsoy began with an epic mega bus trip from London to Aberdeen! for the bargain price of £1.50 each! From Aberdeen it was another bus ride followed by a taxi trip from a random village! To Portsoy, were we arrived in what was the middle of the night! As it was summer in Scotland we were far enough north to still have enough light to put up out little tent and get some down time before the festivities began!
The Portsoy boat festival is a celebration of traditional sea fairing and it was buzzing with excitement. The weather was fantastic with calm crystal clear waters in the harbour and a beautiful summer sun shining down on us. The boat had already been transported to the festival by Mark and his team from Archaeolink and we were ready to swing into action!
Katie and I had also prepared for the event by painstakingly making some Neolithic style costumes to look the part!
We were also really lucky at the boat festival as we were joined by master coracle maker Dave Purvis who brought with him some spectacular modern and traditional coracles. And Kaite and I were straight on with our first lesson! Now paddling a coracle is a relatively easy thing, but there is a trick to it. Coracles are really stable as long as you don’t lean from side to side! Best to sit upright, paddle out the front in a figure of eight motion and only rock back and forth!
After we’d mastered the coracles it was time to see if the large Neolithic boat that we spent all of Easter building could actually float! So we’re all loaded up, paddles in hand shoes off and headed out into the harbour! I’m pleased to say it did float and we made it round the harbour a few times! I’m not sure if we would have made it across the North sea or the Irish sea as we did have to have one sat in the back bailing out! One of the unexpected nice things about the cow skin of the boat is we took our shoes off to protect the boat and had a lovely fur carpet under our feat while sailing!
After our successful boat trip round and out of the harbour we managed to find ourselves some traditional Scottish smoked fish and sat by the side of the harbour in the sand enjoying a very sea side meal. One of the lovely things that came out of our trip to Portsoy was the enthusiasm for the coracles that was generated by seeing us take them out round the harbour. We soon had lots of families and children coming up to us and wanting to have a go at sailing them round the harbour. The kids really enjoyed it and it created a wonderful atmosphere. We had a ‘safety coracle’ out in the deeper water keeping an eye on people and making sure that no one left the safety of the harbour. A great time was had by all!
One of the best things about the festival was the relaxed atmosphere, traditional Scottish music floating over the port, still waters, beautiful weather, friendly people and free time on the water. It was lovely to feel close to nature and very close to how our ancestors would have travelled around the waters!