A rowing boat which was designed to cross the Atlantic from New York to Stornoway washed up on a beach in the Western Isles yesterday (Thursday September 12th) – 15 months and 3,000 miles after being abandoned at sea.
The rowing boat ALBA has made her own way almost to the doorstep of the man who set out from the east coast of the USA in her shelter in May 2018. Niall Iain Macdonald had intended to row NY2SY, solo across the Atlantic between New York and Stornoway, to raise funds for the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).
But he was forced to abandon ship two weeks into the epic crossing after a storm on June 15th 2018 and was rescued at sea by the Dutch cargo vessel MS Dolfijngracht, after issuing a mayday call. He was taken to Canada, from where he returned home to Scotland, his boat left drifting in the North Atlantic. At the time, he wrote: “Now my row is over and my boat is abandoned at sea. She will continue her own journey which will end somewhere, sometime. It's a horrible feeling to have to leave your boat behind…”
Yesterday the ALBA came home, washed up on a beach at Askernish in South Uist, relatively intact, having drifted across the Atlantic on her own. She was photographed and retrieved from the water ahead of tomorrow’s forecast storm by Angus Steele.
Announcing the astonishing discovery this morning, Niall Ian said: “Hello old friend. My boat was found yesterday. She came ashore on the beach at Askernish, South Uist - almost made it home.”
Many followers have commented on the boat’s seeming determination to be reunited with its owner by landing so close to Stornoway. Niall Iain himself underlined the remarkable coincidence: “My maternal granny was from Askernish, my mum was brought up nearby in Daliburgh.” One supporter simply commented: “us islanders always find our way home!”
Next month’s Faclan: Hebridean book festival features Niall Iain as one of the headline speakers. He will share his testimony of two dramatic attempts to row the Atlantic and why he did it, with previously unseen film footage.
The attempt to row from NY2SY has so far raised £24,000 for SAMH and the donations page is still live. You can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ny2sy.
The pictures show ALBA on the beach at Askernish yesterday (Angus Steele) and leaving Norfolk, Virginia at the start of the 2018 voyage (Niall Iain Macdonald).