A team of 20 rowers have been circumnavigating the island of Ireland in a small, self-built skiff to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland (CFI). Their plan for today (Thursday) is row up the Co Down coast to Blackhead, and then on to Portavogie.
The rowers, of mixed ability and experience, set off from Bray, Co. Wicklow on May 30th with crews of two oarsmen/women at a time rowing in relays. The rowers have planned stops at 50 designated points along the coast, with support on hand from a shore-based crew as well as cover boats that will escort the boat on some of the more challenging legs.
The team is particularly thankful for the support of local people, and some rowers can join the crew along the way.
‘Row-A-Round Ireland’ is the brainchild of Bray-based maritime enthusiast Ger Crowley, who said the trip was a huge challenge for all involved.
“It’s an ambitious project, a journey of almost 1,000 nautical miles, and the main objective is to safely row an open 15ft timber skiff around the island,” Crowley said. “Each two-person crew will contribute 100 miles towards the overall voyage over a period of a week or so, rowing on average up to 20 miles per day, so it’s a big ask for all our volunteers.
“The other objective, of course, is to raise funds and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland and all our rowers are giving their time and effort for free,” he says.
The Row-A-Round Ireland crew is drawn mainly from the immediate Crowley family and friends, under the watchful eye of team mascot and coxswain Joey the labrador. A true sea dog, Joey has a regular spot in the stern of the boat as it makes its way up and down the Bray coast on training rows. Although the journey will consist of 50 one-day legs, the changeable Irish weather means the crew has allowed 120 days to complete the challenge safely.
“Weather is going to be an issue alright, and there are some treacherous stretches of water to be navigated including Donegal Bay which comprises some 30 miles of the open Atlantic Ocean, Clew Bay, the Cliffs of Moher and from Loop Head across the mouth of the mighty Shannon,” says Ger Crowley, who built the boat.
The challenge also involves shore-based logistical support with a vehicle following the crew on land bringing change-over crews to intended landing areas, spares for repairs, food and also serving as a retrieval vehicle here beach landings are involved.
The team is also counting on local community support along the way, with many members of the maritime community including rowing, sailing and diving clubs around the country having pledged their support by offering food, accommodation as well as valuable advice and local knowledge.
Funds will be raised as the boat makes its way around Ireland, with all money going towards fighting Cystic Fibrosis, a fatal genetic disease that affects approximately 1 in 1600 births in Ireland, the country with the highest incidence of CF in the developed world.