AN adventurous Lochinver man is gearing up for an epic fundraising challenge that will push him to the limit.
Fifty-two-year old Duncan Hutchison intends to row solo across the Atlantic in a skiff he has hand-built.
Mr Hutchison, who has served as a volunteer lifeboat man for 20 years, ains to undertake the 2900-mile journey from New York to Lochinver in May next year.
The gruelling challenge, which he is calling “Duncan Adrift”, will see him rowing 12 hours a day for the three months he estimates it will take to complete the crossing.
Mr Hutchison hopes that his efforts will raise around £50,000 for one of his favourite charities, WaterAid.
A Lochinver native, Mr Hutchison lives with his wife Marianne, a primary school teacher, at Westwood, Canisp Road. The couple have three children Daniel (26), Franci (24) and Clarke (21).
For the last 17 years he has travelled the globe, working as a rope access technician.
He was previously assistant harbourmaster at the port and worked in his brother-in-law’s fish processing business, Mackay Brothers. A skilled woodworker, Mr Hutchison is known for his chainsaw wood carvings – a 23ft totem pole he carved is displayed outside Achin’s Bookshop, Inverkirkaig.
He put his practical skills to good use when he decided to build his own clinker style skiff – with adjustments to the design to make it suitable for ocean rowing.
It is not the first boat he has built. Thirty years ago he built a small creel boat out of steel which was featured on STV’s North Tonight programme.
He said: “The new boat is based on a four man racing skiff hull design which has been converted into a single ocean rower.
“I have been building it at home for more than two years and it has been a real labour of love.”
It was a proud moment when the converted skiff – provisionally named Sleipnir after the mythical eight-legged horse and with a horse figurehead on its forward stem – hit the water.
Mr Hutchison has so far shelled out more than £10,000 from his own pocket to fund the boat build as well as going on navigation and other courses.
He is now at the stage of putting the boat through its paces, testing its electronics and equipment and increasing his own fitness levels.
He is about to launch a crowdfunding
campaign to raise funds needed to cover his expenses and get him to the starting line at New York.
The campaign will be kicked off by a practice run from Lochinver to Stornoway.
He said: “If I can match my time off work with a decent weather window, I will set off on this practice row as soon as possible.”
Marcus Missen, director of fundraising and communications at WaterAid, said: “We are grateful for Duncan’s fantastic support in helping us in our mission to ensure everyone, everywhere, is given access to clean water and safe toilets.
“We wish Duncan the very best of luck on his Atlantic adventure.”