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Becalmed ‘green’ yachtsman prepares to sail

Alan Rankin is taking his extended stay in Lerwick in his stride. Photo ShetNews

A YACHTSMAN raising money for medical charities as well as promoting environmental awareness hopes to continue his round Britain sail this weekend.

Alan Rankin has been becalmed all week in Lerwick harbour needing repairs to his 28 foot trimaran Trade Winds, while he waits for better weather conditions.

The 55 year old chief executive of the Cairngorm Business Partnership set off from Ullapool six days ago on his six week journey, but is already behind schedule after being stuck in Shetland for three times as long as he planned.

Arriving at 4am on a beautiful Monday morning, the weather had deteriorated by Wednesday when he enjoyed a 10 kilometre run with some local athletes as part of his fund raising effort.

Rankin is already almost a quarter of the way towards his £20,000 target, the money going to Parkinson’s UK, Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“I am personally aware of the impact these conditions can have on families because we have had these issues in our family, and I absolutely believe you can find solutions if you put some money together with some brains,” he said.

The fifth charity he is supporting is the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland that does “amazing work providing life changing experiences for really disadvantaged youngsters”.

Rankin has spent three years planning the trip and building up leave from his job trying to diversify the local economy within the Cairngorm National Park by attracting new media and tourist industry training.

He said he sailed and biked around Scotland in 2006, raising £15,000 for charity and writing a book with a foreword by Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

“It left me with a hankering to go the whole way round,” he said, while leaving as little environmental impact as possible in his wake.

Trade Winds, with its solar panels and wind turbine, is a statement in favour of 'green yachting'. Photo ShetNews

All the electrical equipment on his yacht, including his navigation and communications equipment, is powered by a small wind turbine and solar panels, and he throws nothing overboard.

“I hope if I can achieve an almost zero carbon trip using wind, solar, wave and tide it can be a bit of a statement about the potential for green yachting,” he said.

However his experience at sea has thrown up the wider concern of marine pollution and the harm it is doing to our wildlife.

“When I reached the stretch from Sula Sgeir I saw something so distressing – something white in the water,” he recalled.

“It was two gannets clearly fankled up in something that looked like a float with either nylon or ropes coming off it. One was clearly dead and the other was in it last throes of a desperate death.

“I believe people are more aware now about the dangers of dumping plastic and making huge strides to improve their ways, but some people use the sea as a tip. And when you see something like that it is just horrendous.”

His stay in Shetland should have ended on Wednesday, but instead he hopes to sail out of the sooth mooth on Saturday, once the parts have arrived to repair his boat.

Meanwhile he has been enjoying the hospitality of Lerwick’s pierhead community, and receiving “immeasurable help” from retired sailmaker Tommy Duncan.

Lerwick Port Authority have also been kind, not only waiving their harbour dues but donating £100 to his appeal.

Anyone wishing to do the same can go directly to his website here.