Plucky duo sailed from Wirral to Ireland to raise funds for RNLI

West Kirby RNLI was delighted to meet with James and Cam Douglas, who are both local sailors, to thank them for their fundraising efforts on behalf of the RNLI.

The father and son duo set about completing a challenge they named ‘Dee Isolation Challenge’ so as to raise vital funds totalling approximately £16,000 for various charities including the RNLI and Blood Cancer UK.

James, 61, has been a patient having treatment for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia since 2018 and a participant on the FLAIR trial under the care of the Clatterbridge Cancer Care Centre. He was diagnosed aged 57 and decided to set himself the challenge of sailing an 18ft open Catamaran with his son Cam, from Dee Sailing Cub on Wirral to Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, to visit his mother, who he had not seen during the pandemic. Planned stops in Anglesey and Isle of Man were factored in resulting in a total distance of more than 268km by sea.

James said, “I had spent almost 2 years planning the challenge and making sure we did everything to minimise the risks. It was the perfect focus for me during lockdown as it gave me a sense of purpose. I spoke to the Coastguard, RNLI lifeboat stations and ports so as to brief them, supply a route plan and link to our satellite tracker.

“The tracking updated every 10 minutes and was essential for the voyage. We both wore inflatable lifejackets and also carried emergency flotation bags for the boat if it became damaged; as well as a VHF radio, flares, navigation lights, first aid kits, spare batteries and so on.”

The total sailing time was 27 hours and the voyage took place over a three-day period in May earlier this year. They experienced a range of weather and sea conditions during this time and made contact with a variety of RNLI lifeboat stations including West Kirby RNLI for support.

Richard Diamond, West Kirby Lifeboat Operations Manager said, “We are in awe of James and Cam for their efforts and the successful completion of the Dee Isolation Challenge, and would like to thank them for the funds raised. The level of attention to detail and the precautions taken prior to the voyage as well as contacting the appropriate agencies helped them to achieve success and most importantly be safe!”

Image: RNLI/Vicky Gaskin

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