New gig to debut at Come Boating! Launch Day

Apr 27, 2013
Photo by: O’Donovan and Dole Photo caption: Come Boating!’s new pilot gig, Malcolm G, in the workshop of O’Donovan and Dole boatbuilders

Come Boating!, Belfast’s community boating organization, will hold its annual Launch Day on Saturday, May 4, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with activities that highlight its community boating activities. The spotlight this year will be on the organization’s new Cornish pilot gig, the Malcolm G, which will be launched that day.

Come Boating! volunteers will be at the organization’s boat shed near the Belfast Public Landing to provide information about its community rows and sails, youth rowing program, and opportunities to become a coxswain or skipper. Trained coxswains will be on hand to take visitors out for in a six-oar, 32-foot pilot gig. Refreshments will add to the festivity of the day.

The Malcolm G is the third Come Boating! gig. It was built by O’Donovan & Dole Traditional Wooden Boatworks of Searsport with the help of Come Boating! volunteers. Constructed of white oak for the framing and white cedar for the planking, it was built from traditional plans from Cornwall, England. Its construction techniques, hull shape, and thole pins (instead of oar locks) differentiate it from the Come Boating! gigs Selkie and Belle Fast.

“We are so pleased to help Come Boating! achieve the goal of having a traditional gig for the rowing program,” says John O’Donovan, adding, “Patrick and I are very excited to have an O'Donovan and Dole boat that will be so involved in the community and will show the beauty of a traditional craft.” He stressed the importance of the volunteers’ work to the success of the project. Volunteers worked on the framing and riveting and did all of the finishing work. He cited the extensive volunteer contributions of Chris Gordon and Rick Fitzsimmons, in particular, and Willy Reddick’s meticulous painting of “Malcolm G” on the hull.

The new gig is named for Malcolm Gater, who shaped the Come Boating! gig racing program. Malcolm moved to Belfast from Newquay, Cornwall, England, where today’s gig racing directly traces its roots to the days when men in pilot gigs raced out to ships to get the job of piloting vessels into the harbor. He was the Newquay harbormaster and an active member of the Newquay Rowing Club. In Belfast he coxes racing crews, which have taken first place at New England rowing competitions in recent years.

Building the Malcolm G was made possible by a grant from the Maine Community Foundation and contributions from individuals. Fund-raising continues, and donations are welcome.

Come Boating! has regularly scheduled community rows, seven days a week, which will begin in early summer. Participants must sign up in advance at the Come Boating! boat shed. No previous experience is required.

More information about Come Boating! is on its website, www.comeboating.org.

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