The outside edge of the Tobermory Lifeboat operational ‘patch’

The Plan

To sea kayak the outside edge of the R.N.L.I. Tobermory lifeboat operational ‘patch’, a distance of 285 miles (456 kilometres). An unsupported journey of hopefully ten days in duration, beginning and finishing in Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull.

The Purpose

  1. To raise funds for the R.N.L.I.

  2. To highlight the large areas of sea and coastline many of the R.N.L.I. lifeboats serve.

  3. To raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention.

Covering over 19000 miles of coastline with a fleet of over 350 lifeboats, in 2017 it cost the R.N.L.I. an incredible £176.5 million to deliver their lifesaving service. By raising even just a few hundred pounds, Jack and I will be making a vital contribution to the charity’s cause.

A Helping Hand

The Tobermory Severn Class lifeboat is just one out of the hundreds of lifeboats dotted around the British and Irish coastline. By highlighting the operational area of this one lifeboat, by kayaking it’s outer edge, 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, to save the lives of ordinary people.

I live with severe clinical depression which sometimes causes me to face dreadful thoughts and desires to complete my suicide. Sea kayaking, a deep connection to nature and my continued involvement as a volunteer with the R.N.L.I., all help me overcome these moments of darkness. I am keen to openly share my experience of this illness, and fighting suicide, in the hope this offers inspiration to others who similarly struggle with this malaise. This journey is as much about celebrating life as anything else!


Jack and Nick

Jack Lowe is just over half way through his Lifeboat Station Project, having begun it in January 2015. He is creating a unique archive of every one of the R.N.L.I. lifeboats and their crews 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 R.N.L.I. and his desire to develop his expedition kayaking experience. This is his dedicated web page for this adventure - here.

Me, Nick Ray, also known as “LifeAfloat” to my extensive Twitter clan. I have been sea kayaking for thirty odd years. I am a Deputy Launching Authority and fundraiser for the R.N.L.I. Tobermory lifeboat on the Isle of Mull. In the year Jack set out on his lifeboat station project, I 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. I have since completed a couple of other lengthy fundraising kayaking expeditions, one for the R.N.L.I. and the other for a cancer charity called Odyssey.

Jack and I have long wanted to kayak together on an extended sea kayaking expedition, so this is the opportunity we have created for ourselves.


The first half of June, 2019.

Challenges & 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. Jack and I will carry essential life saving equipment such as Personal Locater 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.

Getting Involved

You can make an online donation to our JustGiving page - here.

Our route will be outlined by my YB Tracker, set at fifteen minute intervals. You can follow our progress once we have set off by following this link - here.

Meeting up with us en-route. 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.

Equipment Sponsorship

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. Thank you.

Social Media

Nick: Facebook page, LifeAfloat, Twitter, @LifeAfloat, Instagram, @nick_lifeafloat.

Jack: Facebook page, The Lifeboat Station Project, Twitter, @ProjectLifeboat, Instagram, @LordLowe.

Tobermory Midsummer Sunrise