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Atlantic rower reunited with lost boat

By Mike Merritt

An intrepid Scot who was attempting to row across the Atlantic before being rescued has been finally re-united with his abandoned boat.

Duncan Hutchison's boat Sleipnir miraculously turned up in Norway in March, nearly six months after he was forced to leave it.

Mr Hutchison from Lochinver in Sutherland survived mountainous seas, brutal storms and even a shark attacking his home-made boat.

He was picked up by the 590-ft long tanker Asphalt Splendor on September 22 after Sleipnir's vital on board electrics failed.

The rescue came on Mr Hutchison's 100th day at sea and 863 miles from Land's End.

His 23ft boat was lost at sea after the tanker's tow rope broke.

But then months later Mr Hutchison received news that the boat had made it across the Atlantic without him!

It had washed ashore at Sømna near Brønnoysund in Norway - just as the offshore worker had predicted!

Now it has been shipped back to Lochinver.

An excited Mr Hutchison has already made new oars and a horse figurehead for his beloved boat.

Taking to Facebook, Mr Hutchison wrote:"'Sleipnir' returns, thanks to the goodwill and a lot of hard work from numerous friends in Norway, Aberdeen and Lochinver.

"Kristian Andre Moen and his colleagues made contact having discovered my boat washed up on the Norwegian coast, battered, but still just about in one piece. They retrieved it, stored it and delivered it to the departing harbour of Trondheim. A lot of time sacrificed to help us!

"Following their efforts, my friend on this side, William Smith (Bill) arranged transport with 'Sea Cargo'. He dealt with communication from Norway and Aberdeen, to get the boat moving towards Scotland. He also met me in Aberdeen harbour for it's arrival and helped me move it by forklift onto a trailer. Unfortunately, with all the water absorbed from it's journey alone, the trailer used before couldn't handle the weight, so Sleipnir was left in the depot until we had another plan.

"Superhero Joseph Mackay saved the day once again! Always willing to help, he managed to organise a sturdier trailer, kindly offered by Matthew Bulch from 'Assynt Electrics'. Joe and his friend Calum Mackay travelled down late last night (Tues) to Aberdeen to assist the final pick up - arriving home at 5am this morning!

"Once again like-minded people from across the water have come together with the crew from home to complete a seemingly impossible task. DuncanAdrift would not have happened without the behind-the-scenes help of so many. We can't explain here how much this support means but hope that those involved understand. Thank you."

His wife Marianne said recently that her husband is going to make it seaworthy again.

"I don't know if he will give it another go to row across the Atlantic. It's a huge financial commitment. Duncan's going to fix the boat first and take it from there," she said.

Mr Hutchison said previously: "I never had any qualms about the Sleipner's survival at sea, even in the worst conditions.

"My only concern was that once it came ashore it might be smashed up against rocks. Thankfully the people who found it were able to take it ashore."

Mr Hutchison also previously said he will make another attempt - if his beloved abandoned boat was found and he could raise the £10,000 to mount the bid.

Mr Hutchison had given an emotional account of how he came perilously close to disaster with the tanker that came to save him.

He was just feet from the vessel's giant propeller and in danger of being swept under the 37, 087 tonnes boat.

He was also "flung over the side underwater" hanging onto a safety wire, fearing he would be swept away to his death.

But he also lost Sleipnir.

"I feel part of me is lost with her," said Mr Hutchison then.

Mr Hutchison mainly trained on a rowing machine on the oil rigs he worked on as a rope technician, though he had a few voyages in Sleipnir, including a 50 mile row.

But not everything went to plan when he began his Atlantic journey.

Mr Hutchison was taken off his home made craft on June 4 in a fierce storm 20 miles off New Jersey - and just four days after setting off from New York.

After a frantic search and appeal to ships and aircraft, Sleipner - named after an eight legged horse from Norse mythology that could glide across the sea - was located at Ocean City, 133 miles further south from where it was set adrift.

Mr Hutchison set off again on his long voyage to his home from Whale Creek Marina, Strathmere, New Jersey, on June 15.

However it proved a battle of endurance. For every two miles Mr Hutchison paddled towards Lochinver, he had to row nearly three to get back on course.

In fact by the time he was rescued he had rowed 3416 miles - 150 miles more than his direct route to his destination.

At first he thought he would get across 'the pond' in 90 to 100 days.

Mr Hutchison - who celebrated his 53rd birthday during his epic row - has so far raised over £35,000 for the charity Wateraid from his row.

Mr Hutchison even received messages of encouragement from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Rangers boss and former Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.

Only 13 people have successfully rowed solo from West to East across the North Atlantic.

Mr Hutchison was determined to tick off the 1000 plus miles he was from his destination of his home that he completed the remaining distance on a Concept 2 rowing machine - mainly on the oil rigs where he works.

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