Eight novice rowers completed a gruelling 100-mile row from St Kilda to Portree last weekend in record time.
Leaving St Kilda at 4am on Friday, they predicted it would take between 38 and 48 hours to complete. Instead the eight rowers and three coxswain managed the challenge in just over 30 hours, arriving in Portree at 10.45am on Saturday.
Scenes of jubilation met the crew, who are raising money for RNLI and local charity Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers, when they arrived to touch the slip in Portree Harbour.
Named the ‘Aurora’ and re-launched in April 2014, the 120-year-old 19.5-foot long rowing boat was last used to successfully chase a missed Glasgow steamer from Portree in 1913. It then went into a local boat shed to sit, unused, until team leader Donnie Nicolson found out about it.
During 2013, local boat builder Iain MacLean lovingly restored the skiff, replacing most of the structure but saving almost all of her larch planking.
Sleep deprivation, sea sickness, blisters, back pain and chafing from the boat’s wooden seats were all to be overcome in the quest to raise £20,000 for RNLI and Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers.
Donnie said the charities were chosen by the team for good reasons. “As five of the rowers are crew members of the Portree Lifeboat, we are fully aware of the enormous costs that are needed to keep the RNLI running,” he said. “Hopefully we can do our little bit to help.
“Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers is a charity most of us were not unaware of until the challenge,” he said. “We hope we can not only raise some funds for them, but just as importantly raise their profile and let people know the extraordinary and important job they do in our local community.
“We are delighted to have completed the row in such a brilliant time. We are tired, but sheer adrenaline and all the support we’ve been getting has kept us going. The ‘Aurora’ performed really well. She’s an old lady and has to be treated with care. In the open water of the Atlantic Ocean, when St Kilda had been left behind and Leverburgh had not appeared on the horizon, our 19.5ft, 120-year-old boat felt very small. But as soon as the Uists and then not long after Skye appeared on the horizon, we knew both she and our amazing team were more than up to the job. ”