No 11 Pair recollections by Stewart Bates

The following is recollections I have from the late 1960s/early 1970s including some information on the above boat.

In the spring of 1969 myself and Jimmy Hendry (jeweller) were about to become senior members and had to make a decision about remaining in the club which we hadn’t used very much in the previous year. We decided that if we were going to pay the senior membership that we were going to make more use of the Club and, in particular, the rowing fleet.

Over the winter of 69/70 we became involved with the boat convenor Dick Downie and his helpers Alan Bownes Snr and Kenny Campbell in refurbishing the boat fleet. They were doing simple repairs scraping, sanding and revarnishing a number of the pairs which also included recocking them. The boat fleet had very strange numbers and they had decided to renumber the refurbished boats starting at No. 1.

Round about this time the club sent an old pair down to boat builders in Fairlie with them to build a new copy of this boat, repair it, revarnish it, etc. I unfortunately don’t remember what number was given to the brand new pair and the rebuilt pair but neither of them was numbered 11 and they were built of the same wood that No. 11 is.

No. 11 was still in use at that time with another number. I can’t remember which year but this boat was badly damaged by some fool jumping into it off the slip, landing on one of the seats. That seat was broken and the impact was so great that the other seat was ripped off its rivets detaching it from the side. The broken seat was bows and the detached one was the stroke seat. The effect of this was that the boat started to open up like a clam. Jimmy and I put a rope around it and cut an oar so that it could be jammed into opposite rollocks. We used the oar like a tourniquet to pull the boat together putting the oar between stroke and bows rollocks to keep the boat from becoming irreparable. Over that winter we made a new seat which we had to attach to the sides with brass bolts as we couldn’t rivet. We also refixed the stroke seat likewise with brass bolts. Over that winter we scraped sanded and revarnished the boat and also recocked it.

Many of our peers thought that we were wasting our time on this exercise and had thought that our tourniquet on the boat was going to prove futile. They were also vastly amused by our use of stale white paint which was like a paste to fix the cocking string into the keel and our use of bathroom sealant on top of that. Dick’s group had used white lead to fix the string but that was exhausted. No 11’s strange shape might be the result of this repair though boatman Colin has subsequently also refurbished this boat. I assume it’s not been renumbered.

We numbered the boat No.11 which was out of sequence with the then refurbished pairs plus the 2 boats from Fairlie. The reason for using 11 was that I could not paint numbers with curves in them whereas I could create 2 ones using masking tape.

No one can say that Jimmy and I were not clever! Instead of putting the boat of the floor we hung it from the roof and each time we took it out we also marked it back into the boat book as “leaking badly” or similar comments. You can see the difference between at that time Jimmy and I who had been at the Academy and the bulk of the members who were ex Greenock High School. None of them noticed that Jimmy and I were using this boat twice a week even though it was in such bad order per the boat book!

I really can’t say whether No. 11 was the oldest boat in the club at that time, nor do I know whether the boat that was refurbished in Fairlie is still operational or whether it was older. Of those who are still about the Club Jimmy Crawford might remember when the boats went to Fairlie. The boat to be refurbished I think was selected by the late Bobby Peat as being the best shape and in his recollection at the time the fastest and lightest. This may not be correct as it’s a long time ago.

Stewart Bates
31 July 2012