Bob’s Viking vessel is looking ship-shape

SEA OF OPPORTUNITY: Bob Latimer, below, has commissioned a Viking boat to be build to take part in races.
SEA OF OPPORTUNITY: Bob Latimer, below, has commissioned a Viking boat to be build to take part in races.
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A “VIKING” rowing boat is poised to put a South Tyneside community on the crest of a wave.

Environmental campaigner Bob Latimer has embarked on a seafaring labour of love.

Bob Latimer

Bob Latimer

He commissioned a boat builder to construct a traditional St Ayles Skiff, a wooden rowing boat designed to hold six people.

Work is progressing well, with the boat set to be delivered to its new home in Whitburn next month.

When launched, the vessel is to be called the Latimer Ledja – the Viking word for fast sailing boat.

Mr Latimer hopes the people of Whitburn will tap into that popularity and volunteer to row his boat in a competition staged by the North East Maritime Trust, and other sailing organisations.

The venture is very much going back to the future, as many years ago there was believed to be an annual Cobble Race in Whitburn, which Mr Latimer is hoping to revive.

He said: “We are hoping to get everyone in Whitburn and the surrounding area involved in rowing her – men, women and all ages, particularly the young.

“This type of boat building has really been catching on recently and for me it is a bit of a labour of love.

“All the skiffs are built the same and you have to meet certain building conditions to participate.

“They come in sheets of marine plywood and you take them out and build them.

“We have heard that many years ago there was a race called the Whitburn Cobble Race. If this is correct, then we hope to revive this race and invite all the clubs to participate. It’s a chance to get the community together and maybe take part in races on the Tyne. The boat will hold four people and a cox in the back.”

The Latimer Ledja is being built from traditional wood – with no stainless steel – at Boulmer in Alnwick, Northumberland, by fisherman Jeff Matthews and volunteer Ray Angus.