Viking rowing boat to launch at Whitburn beach

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An environmentalist’s dream of launching a Viking rowing boat is to become a reality next weekend.

 Bob Latimer commissioned Northumberland boat -builders to construct a traditional St Ayles skiff, a wooden rowing boat designed to hold six people.

Bob Latimer

Bob Latimer

 Work is now complete and the vessel – the Latimer Ledja – is to be officially launched on Sunday, from 11am at Whitburn beach.

Mr Latimer, from Whitburn, said: “Barring bad weather, the launch will take place on Sunday so we’re hoping for a good day. We’ve invited another skiff from Amble to come along on the day.

“After the launch, from 12.30pm to 1pm, we’re planning a half hour ‘have a go’ sessions, when new ‘skiffies’ will be welcome to have a row.”

Between 1pm and 3pm on Sunday there will be a ‘social row’ into the River Wear or north towards Souter Lighthouse and Marsden Rock, after which pasties and cakes will be served.

 The Ledja – the Viking word for a fast sailing boat – has been made at Boulmer in Alnwick, Northumberland, by fisherman Jeff Matthews and volunteer Ray Angus.

 Mr Latimer added: “The craftsmanship of the boat builders Jeff and Ray is second to none, they have done a remarkable job. The bow section has been painted and is complete with the name and symbol.

 “Ledja is a Norse word for fast boat and the symbol is a combination of the Christian design for the trinity and a Viking sign.”

 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. Mr Latimer hopes the people of Whitburn will volunteer to row his boat in a contest staged by the North East Maritime Trust.

 To let organisers know if you want to take part in the ‘have-a-go’ half hour, message Whitburn Coastal Rowing via Facebook.