Two intrepid kayakers are making their way over almost 700 miles of Scotland’s coastal and canal waters over the next fortnight to raise cash for Fife’s fishing industry.
Jack Gatacre, 28, from Sussex, and his friend Antonio Vastano, 25, from Aviemore, were waved off by friends, family and sponsors from Pittenweem Harbour at 8am on Saturday as they embark on an epic trip around the southern half of Scotland in kayaks.
The journey, all going well, will start and finish in Pittenweem, passing Edinburgh, Falkirk, the Forth and Clyde Canal, the Isle of Arran, Kintyre, Jura, Scarba, Mull and Fort William before joining the Caledonian Canal past Loch Lochy, Fort Augustus, Loch Ness and Inverness.
The trip will then take the pair into the North Sea to pass Nairn, Lossiemouth, Buckie, Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Aberdeen, Montrose, Arbroath, Dundee and St Andrews before returning to Pittenweem on August 15.
Jack is raising money for The Fishermen’s Mission charity and in particular his girlfriend’s father, who retired from 50 years of fishing at Pittenweem where he still lives.
Coronavirus restrictions and related problems has left many local fishermen struggling, but The Fishermen’s Mission aims to help by providing financial assistance and support.
“Fishing is a great and noble trade, culture and way of life but it can also be difficult and dangerous for fishermen and their families,” Jack said.
“This year has also been particularly difficult for fishermen financially as Covid-19 has reduced the value of their catch to such an extent that it is currently not economically viable to leave the harbour in their boats.”
Training has been gruelling for Jack and Antonio, taking Jack from his home in Sussex to the Isle of Wight, Brighton, Newhaven, Glynde and further afield past Bournemouth, Poole, Weymouth, Lyme Regis, Exeter, Salcombe, Plymouth, Fowey and Falmouth.
One of the friendly faces who turned up on Saturday morning to wish them well was North East Fife MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.
“I’m pleased to support this good cause and to see Jack and Antonio off as they set off on their journey around Scotland,” he said.
“North East Fife has a proud fishing heritage and it’s important that we recognise that history but also the struggle many people are facing right now as a result of COVID-19.
“This is a great initiative to support them and I’m pleased to do what I can to support them.”
Anyone wishing to support the duo by giving donations can do so via https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-gatacre1.