Local charity Falmadair (Gaelic for tiller) is holding a raffle to raise funds for equipment and running costs for the four traditional sailing skiffs based in Stornoway.

Falmadair was originally set up to work with Comunn Eachdraidh Nis to look after the Sgoth Niseach Jubilee after her first renovation in the late 1970s.

Jubilee SY233 was built in 1934 by John Finlay Macleod, the man who swam ashore with the rope from the stricken Iolaire on the morning of 1st January 1919. The 1970’s renovations were carried out by his son, John Murdo Macleod. Sadly, John Murdo passed away recently at the age of 96. He has left a legacy of beautiful boats and passed on his skills and inspiration to many people during his time as a teacher.

Jubilee is the last surviving example of a Sgoth Niseach that participated in the once prosperous Hebridean line-fishing industry. The boat is also the last sail-powered vessel to have made the 80-mile round trip to Sula Sgeir rock for that other Ness tradition - the annual 'guga' hunt.

Following extensive renovations and the fitting of modern safety and navigation equipment during 2005-06, Jubilee enjoyed a new lease of life that offered the public an opportunity to sail in and enjoy a truly unique and historically important sailing vessel.

]As well as Jubilee, Falmadair has three other boats:   An Sulaire (‘The Gannet), built in 1994 by John Murdo assisted by Angus Smith.   She is a full-size replica of a traditional Sgoth Niseach. Her construction was the subject of a documentary film called An Sgoth made by Sam Maynard for the BBC.

Callicvol (named after the original name for the Port of Ness), built in 1974 by John Murdo for an outdoor education centre. At 17ft long, she is a smaller version of a Sgoth Niseach, designed as a training vessel.

Callicvol was donated to Falmadair in 2016 and after extensive renovations by Mark Stockl in Ullapool, has been in regular use around Stornoway Harbour.

Broad Bay, originally built in Orkney in 1912, was rebuilt from the keel up in 2006 by Iain Louis Macleod (who was trained by John Murdo Macleod). She was fitted with a dipping lugsail in the style of a sgoth.

Falmadair is a registered charity run by local people. Its chair is John 'Brownie' Smith, from Arnol, who is a master mariner. Over the years, the charity has trained many people to sail the boats, some of whom have gone on to careers at sea.

Everyone is welcome to join and come out sailing, or just help with maintenance of the boats.   We often take visitors out sailing, organise events and take part in projects such as the Outer Hebrides Psalm Boat Project.The raffle is to raise funds towards vital equipment and running costs such as insurance. They’re aiming to raise £1,500.   Local companies have been very generous in donating prizes. They’ll be drawing the raffle in early January.

They’re also keen to recruit new members. No experience of sailing or boatbuilding is required, just enthusiasm!

John Smith, Chair of Falmadair said: “These boats are an important part of our island heritage. I want to make sure that they are kept in good condition and that people can learn how to sail them.”

Alasdair Smith, a long-standing member of Falmadair said: “The boats are wonderful. They have a simplicity and fitness for purpose that is not easy to achieve, and their sailing qualities are tremendous.

"The teamwork necessary to sail them is very enjoyable. They encapsulate something that is typical of marginal coastal communities everywhere - making intelligent use of scares resources and working together for the common good.”

The raffle tickets are available from Falmadair committee members. Please contact them via their Facebook page.

Falmadair is a registered charity, SCO38938. More information is available on their website: www.falmadair.org