Northwest Passage Expedition team rows from Newcastle upon Tyne to Orkney Distillery

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Solis Marine is a proud sponsor and supporter of the 2022 Expedition

A crew from the Northwest Passage Expedition team is rowing from Newcastle upon Tyne to Orkney as part of the training for next year’s bid to be the first to row the Northwest Passage, the Arctic route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The team set off from the Newcastle Quayside on Monday, July 19 and is expecting to complete the 350 mile journey to Kirkwall in seven to 10 days. Eyemouth, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen have been identified as weather permitting stop off points along the route.

The crew is rowing in Avalon – a 44 foot, eight crew, four rowing position ocean rowing boat – and will be visible from the coast for most of the journey.

Their progress can be tracked through the Marine Traffic website or app. Just search the boat’s Automatic Identification System call sign, ‘Avalon (UK)”.

“On our expedition we are pleased to be supported by Solis Marine who have provided advice on our up and coming Northwest Passage Expedition” – Phil Kite

Avalon is decked out in the livery of Northwest Passage Expedition Gin, the award-winning spirit launched by the team to help fund the Arctic expedition, due to take place in 2022, and support the team’s marine conservation partners, Big Blue Ocean Cleanup.

Crew members include ocean rowers Leven Brown, Jack Hopkins, Mark Agnew, Philip Als, Davie Flett and Al Huntly, as well as Claire Hughes and Phil Kite both from the North East, who in 2018/19 rowed the Atlantic Ocean with Team Tyne Innovation.

Expedition Leader Leven Brown said: “We are delighted to start our offshore training with a row from Newcastle upon Tyne to Kirkwall. Each of the crew have been training on their own under Covid restrictions and with those gradually lifted now is a chance to bring the team together.

“The row to Orkney is a challenge in its own right and will help with team bonding and developing the appropriate skills required for the Arctic expedition. The 44ft Avalon is a beast of a rowing boat, designed with the Northwest Passage in mind, and I am looking forward to seeing how the crew work together.

“Hopefully the conditions will be fair but being prepared for the unexpected is part of our training. We are also excited about visiting The Orkney Distillery in Kirkwall who are supporting us by producing our Northwest Passage Expedition Gin, that should make for a great night.”

Crew member Phil Kite said “When Claire and myself finished the row of the Atlantic with Team Tyne Innovation in 2019, I said never again, but here we are training together once again to row an ocean, this time the Arctic!

“We are both looking forward to this training row up to Orkney with such an experienced crew, most having rowed an ocean, and it will be another great experience. Setting off from Newcastle is really exciting but the North Sea can be rather challenging, so fingers cross we get fair winds pushing us north.

“On our expedition we are pleased to be supported by Solis Marine who have provided advice on our up and coming Northwest Passage Expedition. This unique and world first adventure has its risks and we appreciate all the support and advice they have provided.”

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