Promoting Boat Building and Rowing in Lake Huron Communities
Heritage Coast Sailing and Rowing, a new not for profit corporation, whose purpose is to encourage sailing and rowing and to preserve historic regional boat designs, is in the process of building a 23 foot Mackinaw boat, named the Heritage 23. Actual construction l began on April 16 in East Tawas.
Mackinaw boats are historic vessels developed in the upper Great Lakes region. They were the pick-up trucks of the 1800’s and were used as fishing boats and for short-haul transportation of freight and people. Said to be the merger of Native American canoe building skill and European carpentry skill, they are a significant part of the cultural and economic heritage of this area. Looking for a classic regional boat, the Mackinaw was chosen by Heritage Coast Sailing and Rowing. Recognizing the skill level of the builders, the group commissioned design and construction updates to take advantage of modern methods of boat building using marine plywood and resins and to make it suitable for kit building.
Heritage Coast Sailing and Rowing is a Michigan not-for-profit corporation, formed to encourage local boat building activities, build regional community along the Heritage-23 Route and to encourage boat building in the region. Both organizations cover the same six counties.
The organization iss patterned after the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, a very successful regional organization in the United Kingdom. Scottish Coastal Rowing uses the St. Ayles Skiff as the “one-design” class for the regattas and events it conducts each year. Inaugurated only two years ago, 25 St Ayles skiffs have already been launched, with another 29 under construction.
Regattas have been run over courses ranging from 1000 yds to 3 miles; longer races are planned for the 2012 season. The sport is attracting participation from all ages and both sexes, especially women.
Heritage Coast hopes to have similar events here and along the Lake Huron shoreline using its Heritage-23 as the design.
Heritage Coast sees many benefits for a community in building and racing these Heritage 23’s:
The building of a boat will provide a focus of interest during the time that it is under construction. There is approximately 800-1000 man hours work in building the boat, and the more hands that are willing to get involved, the easier it will be.
Rowing is above all a team sport where all members of a crew have to give their all, and work together to win. This is seen as an ideal method for building team spirit.
The support of a set of crews within a group or community is also important, and it is hoped that this will increase the cohesion within, and through friendly competition break down barriers to other communities.
It is particularly hoped that youth groups can be encouraged to get involved, both as a means of training in cooperative constructive activity in building the boats, and in what is hoped will develop into a very popular means of competition against neighboring communities.
Visitors and individuals willing to work on the boat are welcome by appointment. To schedule participating in construction or a site visit, call 989.362.3193.
Information about coastal rowing in Scotland can be found at http://www.scottishcoastalrowing.org.