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Rower's boat ditched off US coast washes up near mum's home

Niall Iain Macdonald was shocked to learn his vessel had been found a year later on a beach in Uist.

Washed up: The abandoned boat was found in South Uist.
Washed up: The abandoned boat was found in South Uist. Angus Steele

By Jenness Mitchell and Ben Philip

A rowing boat that had to be abandoned off the US coast by an adventurer last year has washed up near the ancestral home of his family in Scotland.

Niall Iain Macdonald was making his third attempt to row solo across the Atlantic to his home in Stornoway, but was forced by severe weather to abandon the challenge after his cabin began to flood and systems started to fail during heavy seas.

Mr Macdonald, a Gaelic broadcaster, was rescued last June after making a mayday call during his NY2SY adventure.

He was forced to abandon his vessel, Alba, and was picked up from his life raft by a Dutch cargo ship.

Adventure: Mr Macdonald was forced to abandon his trip.
Adventure: Mr Macdonald was forced to abandon his trip. © NY2SY

On Thursday his boat washed up on a beach at Askernish in South Uist - the ancestral home of his gran and mum - and less than 100 miles from his own home.

Mr Macdonald told STV News: "It was very unexpected news, to be honest.

"I'd always wondered what had happened to the boat and I'd always tried to figure out how I could maybe find her - where she had come ashore - because she would have come ashore at some point, but to hear that she'd come ashore just a couple of miles from where my granny was from and where my mother was brought up, and a place I know very well, Askernish in South Uist, was quite difficult to get my head around.

"It was disbelief to be honest - to see that the boat had turned up and to see where she'd come ashore as well."

Mr Macdonald said he "hated leaving the boat" and had actually "salvaged her from the sea" during a previous crossing attempt.

He added: "It was always a loose thread in the story - that the fact I'd never found her.

"I knew she would turn up somewhere.

"It was strange to see the boat again - it took me back to that night and it's strange to have such a strong bond with the boat, but it was me and her right there and she served me very well.

"You need a lot of luck when you're doing something like trying to row across the North Atlantic Ocean, and I did the best I could but the conditions were just too much for me - and that's just the way it goes sometimes."

Found: Alba has been recovered.
Found: Alba has been recovered.

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