Malahide sea scouts taking on 100km row to pay for new den
TWENTY Malahide Sea Scouts will row 100km from Holyhead to Dublin in a bid to raise funds to refurbish their den.
Rowers aged 15 and up will take on the Big Row Home challenge this weekend.
The biggest sea scout organisation in Europe is hoping to raise €600,000 to pay for an extensive upgrade of their den.
"We have 600 members and hundreds more on the waiting list, so when the den is upgraded we should be able to take on more," said Stephen O'Reilly, the group's training co-ordinator.
Five teams will cross the Irish sea, two boys' teams, two girls' teams and a senior men's team.
They will row in relay at an average speed of about three knots.
Several support boats will accompany them.
The journey is expected to take between 15 and 18 hours.
The teams have been building up to the event since last November.
"It's taken a lot of hard work and training," said Stephen.
He is one of the team members taking part, and has been a member of the scouts group since he was 10.
"The rowers have been working up to being able to row for two hours straight," he said.
"They are used to rowing races where it's over quickly, but this is all about endurance.
"We've been rowing over and back from Malahide lower estuary to Ireland's Eye to practise changeovers at sea.
"That's the most difficult part - swapping from the row boat to the support boats. Now that it's around the corner it feels very real," he said.
The scouts are the biggest group of their kind in Europe and have been an integral part of the community since 1918.
Built in 1984, the den is now badly in need of an upgrade, said Stephen.
The plans that have been drawn up include a significant extension and upgraded access.
Money raised will also be used to fix the leaking roof.
There is also insufficient meeting or training space and no wheelchair access at the moment.
Works are due to begin in the coming weeks.
Members of the club take part in a range of activities including rowing, kayaking, hiking and camping.
Stephen noted that the club is great for boosting confidence in children and teens.
"Scouts will always have the confidence to put their foot forward," he said.
It is hoped that the journey will begin on Friday, but that depends on the weather.
A 24-hour window of good weather is needed to allow the rowers to set off, but it is envisaged that they will leave Holyhead in the evening and row overnight before arriving in Dublin early the following day.
A previous bid had to be called off because of rough weather, but the participants were not deterred.
"We have to put safety first, but we are eager to get going now," said Stephen.
Donations can be made via the club's website at www. malahideseascouts.ie
People who are donating can also guess how long the row will take, and the closest guess will win either a pair of cufflinks or a pendant from Declan Killen Goldsmiths.