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Voyage echoes the past

Charity challenge events are common at this time of year but the voyage of eight novice rowers from St Kilda to Skye in a 120-year-old skiff deserves special mention.

The Aurora, an open rowing boat last used in 1913 to catch up with the Glasgow steamer out of Portree after some passengers missed it, had been berthed in a local boat shed for more than a century before it was restored and returned to sea on Friday. Two teams of four rowers used their muscle to power it across the Atlantic swell from St Kilda to Skye. The 41-mile journey took 31 hours.

Not only did it raise money for two local charities, but it also evoked the spirit of those who in past centuries crossed Scotland's most treacherous waters in rowing boats. The simplest craft, currachs, were used typically on inland waterways, but travellers did cross sea routes in rudimentary craft even in the prehistoric period. Epic voyages in tiny craft have been recorded since: a Greenland Inuit even landed on an Aberdeen beach in his canoe in the early 18th century. Such exploits are no longer driven by necessity, but journeys like that of the Skye rowers pays a fitting tribute to the heroism of those ancient seafarers.

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