Page last updated at 15:15 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 16:15 UK

Club enlists female boat builder

Gail McGarva
Gail McGarva gave up her job five years ago to become a boat builder

An ocean rowing club in Dorset is having its latest wooden boat - or "gig" - built by a woman thought to be the country's only female gig builder.

The Lyme Regis Gig Club has enlisted Gail McGarva, 43, to construct its latest wooden vessel.

Ms McGarva gave up her job as a sign language interpreter five years ago to train as a boat builder in the town.

She is also one of the few remaining wooden boat builders to be able to build "by eye".

All gigs are 32ft long (9.8m) and 4ft 10" wide (1.47m), have eight seats - one for the cox, six for the rowers and one "seagull" seat in the bow.

"I had a very strong feeling about boat building being my direction," Ms McGarva said.

"But I had no guarantee - it was a leap of faith. And then everything has just tumbled forward from there and it's just wonderful."

She trained at town's the boat building academy and students who come to see her work think she is an inspiration.

Mairi MacLeod said: "To have come from the course that I've just started and now to be building a second gig in Lyme Regis is pretty impressive."

John Watson said: "What Gail's done with the gig is fantastic, it's just a lovely boat."

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