The Isle of Barra lifeboat adopted the role of a welcoming party yesterday when it was launched to meet a solo kayaker. Nick Ray aims to raise thousands of pounds for the RNLI by paddling 2015 miles round all the charity’s Scottish lifeboat stations.
Nick, 51, left the Solway Firth on 1st May and estimates it will take him between three and four months to kayak to the RNLI’s 47 lifeboat stations. Barra lifeboat sailed just outside Castlebay and escorted the hardy kayaker in to shore.
Landing on firm ground, Nick stated: “It was fantastic being met by the crew of the Barra lifeboat. The weather has been windier than expected for this time of year. However, I still hope to complete the task by August.”
Nick will spend a couple of days on Barra before departing and heading north, stopping at Leverburgh and Stornoway before rowing back across the Minch to Mallaig.
His trip was inspired by Brian Wilson’s account of his solo sea kayak journey around Scotland in the 1980s.
“Ever since then, I have wanted to emulate his adventure and I have held onto the dream of kayaking around Scotland too,” Nick said.
“The idea for this particular trip came to fruition when I read Nicholas Leach’s excellent book, The Lifeboat Service in Scotland – Station by Station. It suddenly occurred to me that it would be an amazing challenge to visit each of the 47 active RNLI lifeboat stations detailed in his book in one continuous sea kayak journey and, in doing so, fulfil my ambition of a circumnavigation of the Scottish coastline.”
Nick, a kayaker since 1986, will be camping during his journey and he hopes to raise up to £5,000 for the RNLI.
He went on to state: “I am fascinated by the connection coastal communities have with the sea and I want to understand more about the volunteer service, its ethos and what motivates the volunteers to join the lifeboat. It is demanding: they are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, and it can be challenging with difficult rescues. There is also the possibility of physical danger, the emotion during a rescue, and yet they always demonstrate such professionalism.”
His ‘Explorer’ expedition sea kayak has been donated by Sea-Kayaking-Scotland. Nick has called his adventure ‘2015 in 2015’.