SKELMORLIE and INVERKIP SEA SCOUTS

Thanks to Morris Dixon's father, the family living at The Meigle, to the south of Skelmorlie and Wemyss Bay's young Tom Kidd, one of the lifeboats from Alfred Holt's 'Blue Funnel' cargo ship "Dymas", which had arrived at Arnott Young's Damuir shipbreaking yard on April 8, 1954, was acquired for Skelmorlie's 'Rover' Scouts, they meeting weekly in their clubroom in the basement of Stroove, the village's then community centre, the lifeboat, with the marking 'DS2' on her mainsail, seemingly the 'No 2' boat from the ship's port side. The cost of the enterprise was £35, each of the seven prospective Sea Scout members chipping in £5, a great deal of money for any boy to find or even possess in the 1950's.

Amongst those clearly identifiable in the crew photographed here, as the lifeboat is being rowed down-river from Dalmuir are Morris Dixon's father, Douglas (left), Dougie Christie and Carson McCartney, a Clyde 'puffer' coming up-river towards them in the photograph below.

Sadly, moored off the Skelmorlie shore, to the north of the village gas works and the boat slip near adjacent to 'Johnny A'Things' (Ewen's) shop, she dragged her moorings one night in a horrendous September 'equinoxial' gale and was smashed to pieces by morning on the rocks in front of Waddell's 'Craigdhu' Nursing Home, Skelmorlie's Rover Scouts Bill and Matt Shepherd, Dougie Christie, Neil Wilkieson, John Alexander, Ian McNair, Tom Kidd and the Dixons among others unable to save her and nothing but the boat's copper rivets, wedged in rocky crevices, to mark her grave. In hindsight, as most might agree, it would have been a good idea to lay a proper mooring for 1

the boat instead of relying on on an 'anchor' that was 'fabricated' from an old tea chest, it filled with scrap metal, an eye bolt sticking out the top and filled to the top with cement, that felony compounded by having only a short length of cable, it indeed 'near vertical', leading up from the 'anchor' to the boat and the boat thus quite easily able to lift her 'anchor' off the seabed in high tides and seas and move her mooring wherever she was taken, the mooring in this case still seen for some time at low tide, some twenty-feet or so below the high water tide mark. Despite the loss, it was then decided to obtain another vessel, this time an ex-Royal Navy 27foot long 'Montague' whaler, which had been bought by an Ardentinny man and, having been laid up ashore for considerable time, her new owners, the Sea Scouts, submerged her in the loch and camped overnight beside The Ardentinny Hotel to give the whaler's planks time to tighten up before attempting to sail her across The Clyde to her new home. Setting off next morning, though the vessel was still making water, they soon had their new acquisition nipping along at a rare lick of knots until, as they opened up Loch Long at Strone Point, the wind freshened and the mainsail ripped apart due to its recent lack of usage, the crew then having to resort to pulling the boat's eighteen-foot long oars to get to the safety of a mooring off Inverkip Point. With the advent of summer, the mainsail repaired and the boat's planks now fully tightened up, the whaler, later to be named the "Saloorie", began exploring the environs of the lower and more open firth, Brodick a favourite destination for its Saturday night dances, the whaler 'careened' over a low sandbar into the overnight safety of the mouth of the burn at the north end of Brodick's beach. To make her more habitable for the young Sea Scouts, it was decided to fit the boat with a foredeck and a small raised cabin 'cuddy' shelter, the modifications, including the fitting of a two-foot deep 'fixed' rectangular wooden keel and the all-round raising of her gunwhales by some eighteen extra inches, being carried out by Morris Dixon, his father Douglas, Ian McNair and Tom Kidd, a few other Sea Scouts only irregularly appearing to help, as 'sweepersup and hauders-oaners', they deterred by the then frequently grim weather conditions and prolonged spells of cold easterly winds, the 'new' boat this time harboured in the relative safety of 'The Basin' at Inverkip and Inverkip's Sailing Club boathouse used for the safe storage of equipment. The Inverkip 'Basin', had been dug out by The Army's Royal Engineers during World War II to save landing craft, regularly practising with the concrete ramps built along the foreshore of the private road leading round Lord Inverclyde's estate at Wemyss Bay in anticipation of the DDay landings, having to round The Cloch Point in bad weather on the way to and from their base at Port Glasgow and 'The Basin' forming the foundation for today's vast Kip Marina development.

Sea Scouts Tom Kidd, Bill Shepherd and 'A.N. Other' showing some interest in a 'Sea Nymph' at Rothesay 2

Skelmorlie's Sea Scout venture was short-lived, lasting less than some ten years and, with declining support, the ex-navy whaler was sold and the Sea Scouts 'demobilised'.

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