Life on the Edge is a 285 mile, ten day sea kayaking expedition by Nick Ray and Jack Lowe to raise funds for the RNLI.
Read on to find out more about the journey taking place in June 2019 and learn how you can help Nick and Jack raise money for the charity that saves lives at sea…
A MEETING OF MINDS
I’ve been building a friendship with Nick Ray for nearly two years. He’s a special person — a Deputy Launching Authority for the Tobermory RNLI lifeboat and a seasoned adventurer with huge experience on land and sea.
I first found Nick on Twitter and then started to read his Life Afloat blog, a place where he’s open and descriptive about his life, including very honest accounts of his battle with depression.
I really enjoyed Nick’s writing and felt that we’d get along, so I dropped him a line in 2017 to say hello and make that first connection.
It feels strange to think that I’d only known Nick in the cybersphere until very recently. We’d yet to meet in person but I felt like I was getting to know him already, that there was a connection and at some point there would surely be a meeting of minds.
A NEW ADVENTURE
One thing I’d clocked about Nick was that he’s always got an idea up his sleeve for a new adventure. However, I was stunned when my phone pinged on Friday 8th February 2019 with a surprise message from Nick, which started:
“I have a plan which I wonder if you’d like to share with me…“
Goodness, the excitement!
After lots of messages back and forth, we met for the first time a couple of weeks later and the plan really started to take shape…
Our plan is to sea kayak the outside edge of the RNLI Tobermory lifeboat operational ‘patch’, a distance of 285 miles (456 kilometres). An unsupported journey of approximately (and hopefully) ten days in duration, beginning and finishing in Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull.
- To raise funds for the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea;
- To highlight the large areas of sea and coastline made safer by the RNLI lifeboat volunteers;
- To raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention.
Covering over 19,000 miles of coastline with a fleet of over 350 lifeboats, in 2017 it cost the RNLI an incredible £176.5 million to deliver their lifesaving service.
By raising even just a few hundred pounds, Nick and I will be making a vital contribution to the charity’s cause.
The Tobermory Severn Class lifeboat is just one out of the hundreds of lifeboats dotted around the coast of the UK and Ireland.
By kayaking the outer operational edge of this one lifeboat, we hope to raise a pictorial awareness of the vast swathes of coastline and sea, which hundreds of volunteer lifeboat crews head out to in all weathers in order to save the lives of ordinary people like you and me.
Once the expedition is complete and we’ve had a few days’ rest (!), I will then continue The Lifeboat Station Project, photographing six lifeboat stations in the north-west of Scotland.
Keep your eye on my social media channels and the Mission Map for itinerary news.
A CELEBRATION OF LIFE
Nick lives with severe clinical depression which sometimes causes him to face dreadful thoughts and desires to complete his suicide.
Sea kayaking, a deep connection to nature and Nick’s continued involvement as a volunteer with the RNLI, all help him overcome these moments of darkness. Nick’s keen to openly share his experience of this illness, and fighting suicide, in the hope that it offers inspiration to others who similarly struggle with this malaise.
Life on the Edge will be a journey celebrating life as much as anything else and I’m proud to paddle alongside Nick during our expedition.
DONATE TO THE RNLI HERE
MORE ABOUT US
Nick Ray — also known as LifeAfloat to his extensive Twitter clan — has been sea kayaking for thirty odd years.
He is a Deputy Launching Authority and fundraiser for the Tobermory RNLI lifeboat on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. In the year I started The Lifeboat Station Project, Nick kayaked solo to each of the forty seven lifeboat stations (at the time) around Scotland’s coastline, a journey of 1850 miles and raised just over £5000. He has since completed a couple of other lengthy fundraising kayaking expeditions, one for the RNLI and the other for a cancer charity called Odyssey.
Jack Lowe is just over half way through his Lifeboat Station Project, which he started in January 2015. Jack is creating a unique photographic archive of all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations around the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, using a process known as Wet Plate Collodion, crafting incredibly atmospheric photographs on glass. He enjoys sea kayaking, finding his way back into it after a twenty year hiatus. This journey marries his passion for the RNLI and his desire to develop his expedition kayaking experience.
Nick and Jack have long wanted to paddle together on an extended sea kayaking expedition, so this is the opportunity we have created for ourselves.
CHALLENGES AND SAFETY
The primary challenges of this route are the open sea crossings from Iona to Skerryvore Lighthouse and onwards to Tiree, then from Coll to Muck and back across to Ardnamurchan. The weather and the sea state will determine the viability of these crossings. The Point of Ardnamurchan requires careful tidal planning and again, the sea conditions need to be assessed before rounding the headland (the furthest westerly point of mainland Britain). Other than these, the journey will be an enjoyable meander along the coastline, exploring the myriad indentations in the form of sea lochs, bays and creeks.
Dynamic risk assessment will be a natural process throughout the journey where every possible eventuality will be accounted for. Nick and I will carry essential life saving equipment such as Personal Locator Beacons, VHF radios, rocket flares and signal smoke, first aid and of course, be attired in protective kayaking clothing. Importantly though, it’ll be our accrued experience, wisdom and sea kayaking ability, which will see us safely around the route. Neither of us are unnecessary risk takers and together we will make the decision to stop the journey if worsening weather and sea conditions prevail.
The journey will be self-sustaining in that we will carry food and camping equipment for the duration of the trip.
You can make an online donation to our JustGiving page.
Our route will be outlined by Nick’s YB Tracker, set at fifteen minute intervals. You can follow our progress once we have set off by following this link.
We’ll be delighted to meet supporters anywhere along the coastline we are exploring. Please follow the tracker to watch our progress and wander down to chat to us when we are camped ashore.
We will gratefully welcome reciprocal arrangements from any businesses or manufacturers who would like to sponsor items of kayaking equipment, outdoor activity, and film making equipment, for us to test and review during our adventure.
If you would like to help and wish to discuss the mutual benefits of sponsoring our venture, please write to us here or by clicking the button below:
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HELP US RAISE FUNDS FOR THE RNLI