A DATE has been set for a Lochinver man’s fundraising challenge of a lifetime – which is set to test his powers of endurance to the limit.
Volunteer lifeboat crewman Duncan Hutchison revealed last year that he was preparing to row the Atlantic solo in a hand-made skiff to raise money for Water Aid.
Since then the 52-year-old, who has called the odyssey Duncan Adrift, has been training all the hours he can manage, between working across the globe as a rope access technician.
But the wintry weather has been against him and a practice row on January 26 from Lochinver to Ullapool went awry.
After about 50km of hard rowing, Mr Hutchison had to be given a tow for the last six kilometres as the power of the wind and tide combined became too much.
He had hoped to make a trip from Lochinver to Stornoway but that has not proved possible, again because of the weather conditions.
However that has not put him off and this week he announced that he will embark on the 2900-mile voyage from New York to Lochinver on May 19 or 20.
He and his wife Marianne, a primary school teacher, are booked to fly out to New York three days beforehand.
His boat, a clinker style skiff that he took two years to build and re-designed to make it suitable for ocean rowing, is being put on a trailer and shipped out in a container and will hopefully arrive in America well in advance of the start date.
Mr Hutchison will be waved off on his epic journey from the Manhattan Yacht Club and hopes to arrive in Lochinver at some point during the second week in August.
He said: "It’s hard to say the arrival date but it would be nice to row in on our Highland Games day."
Despite the difficulties he experienced in training, he feels physically and mentally ready for rowing up to 12 hours a day. He said: "I think I’m well prepared for the challenge and I can’t wait. I just want to thank everyone who has given me support in all forms. Although it’s a solo row, it’s taken a lot of people supporting me to get to this stage."
He paid for the safety equipment and electronics required through a crowdfunding appeal and is now fundraising in earnest for WaterAid via his Justgiving page.
He said: "The crowdfunding went really well and the more important fundraising for WaterAid is now picking up."
Marcus Missen, director of fundraising and communications at WaterAid wished Mr Hutchison all the best for his Atlantic Adventure.
Mr Hutchison’s daughter, Franci, has paid tribute to him. She said: "He is a very inspiring man and will always do his best to help others and tests his limits through raising money for good causes. My dad is passionate about igniting change and feels that WaterAid is a fantastic charity to support."
For more information or to donate, visit duncanadrift.com or www.justgiving.com and search for Duncan Adrift.