Fundraiser Rowing Across Atlantic On Self-Made Boat Rescued Off Land's End

Isabel Togoh

A man who attempted to row 3,500 across the Atlantic in a self-built wooden boat has been rescued on his 101st day at sea.

Duncan Hutchison, from Lochinver in the Scottish Highlands, was heading for his home village after setting off from New York in May for a fundraising challenge in support of WaterAid.

Hutchison was rescued 750 nautical miles off Land’s End just before 1am after a technical failure on his boat, named Sleipnir, left his power supply down - including his GPS tracker.

The issue left Hutchison having to call the US for support - a “selfless and professional” move which his daughter, Franci Hutchison, said was “one of the toughest decisions he will have ever made”.

The US worked with UK services to coordinate his rescue.

Friends and family left a message on the Duncanadrift Facebook page, informing supporters he was now on a freight vessel heading back to New York with 23ft Sleipnir in tow.

Franci told HuffPost UK: “Although the weather had presented many challenges, my dad’s boat Sleipnir had proved it could cope, as could my dad physically and psychologically.

“Dad was left with no other option but to call for assistance following a technical fault which left his boat with no power. He was therefore unable to navigate safely, convert salt to fresh water and made the responsible decision to call for help. One of the toughest decisions he will have ever made.”

A Facebook post read: “Duncan is now safely onboard a freight vessel and being well cared for. We understand that efforts are being made to take Sleipnir too but this will not be an easy task so we’ll wait and see. 

“As always, thank you to everyone for your support - Day 101 will be an emotional one for Duncan - and us all.

The boat that rescued Duncan is bound for New York!”

Earlier, the team updated supporters on Hutchison’s progress as he began to face difficulties.

A post read: “Satphone call just in from Duncan. Despite coping well with the conditions, an unfortunate crash of his on-board electrics has left him with a decreasing power supply.

“The failure of his secondary battery, was followed by his primary supply cutting out, leaving him dependent on the items he charged beforehand. 

“Although he’s totally dedicated to completing the challenge, today marked 100 days at sea, he’s acted responsibly in the best interests of support services, surrounding boats and himself.”

Mark Rodaway, HM Coastguard duty commander said: “He’s been picked up safe and well. We’ll continue to keep in touch with him via the tanker crew while they progress their passage back towards New York.

“This is a good example of how well the National Maritime Operations Centre and the Coastguard national network coordinates long range rescue missions. We’re grateful to the tanker for responding and rescuing this rower.”

The impressive voyage saw Hutchison celebrate his 53rd birthday at sea, where he enjoyed a well-kept Christmas cake given to him before he set off by a Lochinver resident.

Sleipnir, which he described as a “real labour of love” took three years to build and was named after the eight-legged horse featured in Norse mythology.

Supporters have raised more than £18,000 on his JustGiving page, which can be found here.