Skiff's maiden voyage set for noon Saturday

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
The Otter will be launched Saturday into Keuka Lake at Point Neamo at Keuka College.

The Finger Lakes Museum announced plans to launch the St. Ayles Skiff that has been under construction in its boat shop on the Keuka College campus since last March. The 22-foot wooden rowboat is a replica of a Scandinavian North Sea fishing vessel that was in use during the 1800s.

Christened “The Otter,” the skiff’s ceremonial launch will take place at Point Neamo on the Keuka College campus waterfront at noon on Saturday, Aug. 30. The public is invited to attend.

Building the boat was a craftsmanship learning project headed up by Penn Yan boat builder and instructor, Craig Hohm. It took six months to build, with a dozen dedicated students and volunteers participating in its construction.

The hull was built from glued lapstrake mahogany plywood strips attached to ply ribs. Other species of wood used in the construction include larch and locust. The vessel’s five seats are cedar and its oars are fir.

St. Ayles Skiffs are known for their seaworthiness and were designed to be propelled by four rowers with a coxswain manning the tiller, which controls the vessel’s rudder and direction of travel. In its historical use, fishermen would row the boat 20 to 30 miles offshore—usually against the wind—and sail back ashore downwind using a square-rigger type of sail.