This week I helped shepherd a crew of ladies round the Isle of Wight with Langstone Adventure Rowing.
We boarded the rib at dawn and towed the plastic gig Deborah out of Chichester Harbour towards the meeting point.
Off St Helens, the crew boarded Deborah from the support boat, having been picked up at Portsmouth.
They rowed past Osborne House, home of Queen Victoria (but she wasn't in).
They 'threaded the Needles' at exactly high tide, so they got a boost from the current both ways round the island.
They rowed past Tennyson Down, where the great poet walked in his flowing cape and big hat. He wasn't in either.
And they rowed down Undercliff towards the bottom end of the island, St Catherine's Point, against a stiff southerly wind that slowed them to a standstill for a good hour.
After rounding the point with its lighthouses, they picked up speed with the wind now behind them and the water slack and lumpy off Shanklin.
Culver Cliffs loomed large but never seemed to get closer however hard they rowed. They were a lot further away than they looked.
Sadly, time caught up with them and they had to give up a few miles short of a full circumnavigation, defeated by the headwind down the island's west coast. There were tears. And champagne.
We towed the gig back to Chichester Harbour as this happened:
At the end of the month a team of about 20 rowers lead by Joey (seen here in coxing) will be rowing round Ireland in a nice 15ft 'Joansa' skiff designed by John Welsford.
The boat was built by Ger Crowley in Bray, just south of Dublin, and adapted by him for offshore conditions with features such as a foredeck, widened gunwales and a GoreTex spray cover over the stern, which presumably limits Joey's options a bit.
Ger has been working with two local youth clubs to build four skiffs to promote youth rowing, a very excellent aim.
The squad will be rowing her right round the emerald isle in legs of about 20 miles, which will probably become increasingly challenging down the west coast, exposed to the full Atlantic swell.
Today this lot start an epic 100-day row round Great Britain in an ancient Australian surfboat, wearing nought but their Speedos.
Though I suspect if the weather doesn't perk up considerably they will be putting their fleeces back on immediately they are out of camera shot. They will be rowing between 20 and 30 miles a day, staying overnight at suitable landing places shown in the map here: ukcharityrow2015.co.uk/route. Apparently they still need places to sleep at some of the destinations so if you can help, do drop them a line. The site has all the details of this great expedition.
The hull was refurbished by local craftsmen and adapted for sculling by Neaves Rowing Services, who designed and fitted outriggers and sliding seats.
My grandfather was rowed ashore in a boat like this. He fought up the cliffs of Gallipoli, coming to a stop in a trench opposite the Turkish lines. Half his comrades and all the officers were killed, leaving him, a warrant officer, in command.
When the Turks attacked he led the seven Australians and nine New Zealanders that remained alive out of the trench is a desperate, successful charge.
A boat like this took his wounded body to the hospital ship where he died. He never knew that he had a second son, my father, born just a few days before.
Ian Baird and Frazer Macdonald Hay row St Ayles Skiffs at North Berwick, down on the bottom right hand corner of Scotland. So, of course, they want to row round the entire country. As you do.
They have acquired and repainted Puffin, a skiff that was built for St Abbs but is currently unused. The original yellow and turquoise has been replaced with navy and white, and the original fancy bow adn stern carvings have been carefully removed for the inevitable GoPro cameras.
Next problem: getting a crew together.
They have solved this rather ingeniously by planning a row from club to club, offering rowers the chance to join in for just a short leg or for longer, more challenging distances such as Cape Wrath.
The route takes them through the Forth and Clyde canal to Glasgow, up the coast inside the Western Isles and back down the east coast. Demand has been brisk, apparently, and the expedition is being filmed by the BBC for a doco.
There is a highly entertaining and well written blog here: skiffaroundscotland.co.uk; and you can follow them on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/skiffaroundscotland.
Two plastic gigs have rowed round Singapore Island, which must be the most exotic location for a new gig club so far (go on, people - prove me wrong).
The 140km, 24 hour row was in aid of the Mission to Seafarers (as a lad our local church supported them under their unreconstructed name Mission to Seamen). The boats were built by Fusion GRP of Saltash, and will remain in Singapore to seed interest in rowing, a very laudable aim.
More about the Mission Row Around Singapore Island here: www.missionrasi.com.
More about Fusion GRP here: www.facebook.com/FusionCornishPilotGigs.