As a group of keen sailors and avid supporters of the RNLI and the Scottish islands, they wanted to marry the two passions together and have some fun along the way.
The team decided to row to Islay to recreate a journey made over the generations using only manpower to raise money for the lifeboats.
The team was fortunate to be able to borrow ‘Home to Portrush’, the famous local boat that had crossed the Atlantic in record time in February 2018. Their challenge was to visit all the coastal distilleries on Islay and collect some whiskey from each one.
Ashley Moore, one of the crew, said: “We left from Ballintoy at 3am in idyllic conditions in order to reach Port Ellen and not be swept around the headland as the tide turned.
“Thankfully we made it in nine-and-a-half hours and over the next three days went on to visit Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Coal Ila, Bunnahabhain, Bowmore and Bruichladdich, collecting whisky bottles along the way.
“We were blown away by the warmth of the welcome across Islay and the distilleries — we were given many offers of food and accommodation and each distillery presented us with a bottle of whisky and a stave from one of their barrels to allow us to create the Islay Sea Collection.”
On returning home, team member and local architect Graeme Montgomery set out to design and create a unique cask to display the bottles of whisky, with the source of each stave marked.
‘This is a really exciting and novel way to raise funds for the two stations’
Bids are now being accepted until Sunday 17 November at just-whisky.co.uk for this ‘one of a kind’ whisky collection — and sponsors, including Coleraine software company Spatialest, have already pledged £2,000.
To register to bid you will have to pay £5 but this will be donated to RNLI. During registration, under box number 2 will see a box asking you to leave a message — in this box you must type in RNLI BID to ensure that the £5 registration fee comes to Portrush and Islay RNLI.
Portrush lifeboat operations manager Keith Gilmore said: “This is a really exciting and novel way to raise funds for the two stations. We often have to work with Islay, and this is a great way to work with one of our neighbours and local supporters to raise funds for the RNLI.”
Ashley Moore added: “This was a really fun way to see the Scottish islands in a different way while helping to raise funds to support the work of the RNLI – and to enjoy some exceptional whisky!
“As sea lovers each one of our team never takes for granted the exceptional and brave work of the lifeboat crews and we are so grateful to know they are there whenever needed.”