Nick Ray’s upcoming Sea Kayak Expedition around Scotland

7-minute read

On August 28, 2022 Aqua Bound Ambassador and sea kayaker, Nick Ray, will embark on a year-long mission to kayak around Scotland. This expedition he’s calling Scotland 365 is a celebration of life for Nick, and will—if all goes as planned—end on his 60th birthday.

Nick Ray kayaking along Scotland's coast

Sea kayaker and Aqua Bound Ambassador, Nick Ray

On his website, Life Afloat, Nick writes about his upcoming trip in great detail, including the background, motivation and mission. You can read that here.

We asked if he would go further into a few of the topics he touches on there. He graciously agreed…

Wrestling for Mental & Emotional Health

Nick shares openly on his website and social media pages about his struggle with depression and his suicide attempt a couple years ago. His gratitude to be in recovery is profound:

“I’m enjoying a sustained period of wellness which is lovely. I do experience moments of low mood, but my ability to almost brush these aside shows me how robust I am at the moment.

“I’m in regular contact with my Mental Health Nurse which continues to be helpful for me. This regular contact will continue even when I’m on my kayaking journey. It’s good to have her help me ‘ground’ myself when I’m feeling uncertain about my recovery progress.

“Having my journey to look forward to has helped my recovery. It’s given me focus and is something I can be excited about. I’m particularly looking forward to a year of simple living, immersed in wild nature. I’ve a sense this will be incredibly restorative for me.”

Celebration of Life

As we mentioned above, Nick will turn 60 on the final day of his year-long kayak expedition. This milestone is hugely significant for him, one he views as “one of life’s most important rites of passage.”

“I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to do this [sea kayak trip] at my age. Most of my close friends of a similar age continue to live their lives governed by the need for regular employment and the career choices they made. I’m in the enviable position of not having to earn a regular income, and certainly not a substantial amount.

Nick Ray, standing on the shoreline with his kayak behind him

“I’m also blessed with good physical health. This means I don’t have to worry about complications from this point of view. Sadly, I’ve lost friends recently, way too early in their lives, to cancer, and heart-related and stroke deaths.

“I am feeling my age though. My balance is not what it was and my joints stiffen incredibly easily. This journey will be a test for me physically because of my age. I won’t have the ability to spring from my kayak when I land ashore after a long day. I’ll need to adjust my expectations because of my aging body—which will help me become more accepting of it, rather than frustrated by it, as I sometimes am.

“Having the opportunity to reach 60 feels to me to be a responsibility. I feel it’s beholden on me to use this opportunity to share the wisdom I’ve acquired through my years. It seems the best way for me to do this is through example—my year-long kayak journey. I look forward to making use of this opportunity to share my insights in a manner which I hope offers inspiration and guidance to others.”

Aqua Bound's Whiskey Fiberglass and Whiskey Carbon paddles laying on a patio table

Nick will use our Whiskey Fiberglass (in Fuego) and Whiskey Carbon kayak paddles on his Scotland 365 tour

Closer Harmony with Nature

“How to be human and inhabit the natural world with equity is the question I’m forever asking myself,” says Nick. “I know from experience, the longer I immerse myself into wildness, the more deeply connected I become to the natural rhythms of life.

“We once lived aboard a yacht for seven years, and I miss the connectedness I enjoyed to the rhythms of the ocean. I’m looking forward to living like this again on this journey.

“I’m certain I’ll experience some memorable encounters with wildlife and nature which will help me feel accepted into the natural realm, not as a human interloper and threat, but as an equal.”

underwater photo of a red, yellow and green jellyfish

Nick’s underwater shot of a local jellyfish

Simplification of Life

Anyone who’s participated in a paddling trip has experienced how life simplifies when you’re on the water for an extended time—even if it’s just a few days.

Nick looks forward to immersing himself in that simplicity for an entire year in his kayak:

“Live simply to simply live has become an adage of mine. I’m a firm believer in not complicating my lifestyle, not crowding it with unnecessary commitments. For example, I don’t watch television because I remember how when I did, I became trapped in a cycle of living a life governed by weekly shows and series.

“I’m particularly looking forward to living with only what I carry in my kayak, which can be surprisingly luxuriously. I’m looking forward to reading a lot, to writing, to sitting and watching nature, and to exploring.”

Discovering More about His Adopted Country

Nick was born and raised in Zimbabwe. Scotland has been his home for the past 12 years, and he looks forward to discovering more about his adopted country.

“It’s important to me I understand Scotland more deeply, to cement my sense of place and belonging. Scotland has become my home because I feel at peace here. I’ve lived in England and Wales and have never felt settled in either of those countries.

“We face a period of challenge in Great Britain where, politically, we’ve chosen to isolate ourselves from the world. This is not how I want us to live. In Scotland, as one of the home nations of Britain, we look to living more collaboratively with the world with compassion and respect.

red sea kayak pulled up on shore with a Scottish cityscape behind him

“I’m keen to learn more of Scotland through my journey and understand why it is I feel so happy and comfortable in the country.”

Both Solitude and Togetherness

“I thrive on the joy of solitude in the wild. I also love sharing time in nature with others. Many of the memorable experiences I’ve enjoyed with friends have been through outdoor adventures,” says Nick.

“I’m fortunate to have a good following on Twitter, and I know I’ll get to meet many new friends around Scotland because of this. It’ll be lovely to learn more about living in Scotland through them.”

Facing Discomfort and Challenge

Nick is fully aware of the challenge he faces in his upcoming expedition. In 2015 he kayaked just under 3,000 kilometers around Scotland’s coast and islands. He’s also done other multi-day sea kayak trips, including almost 900 kilometers along the west coasts of England and Scotland—so he’s no rookie.

He also understands the crossover of challenges in the outdoors with the challenges of life. “I know if I can live with my discomfort in the outdoor realm, I can cope with many of the uncomfortable moments life throws in my direction,” he says.

“It’s my belief the outdoor realm holds many metaphoric insights if we open ourselves to these. I know my journey will daily offer me many moments of challenge where I’ll learn more about myself through them.

“This will be particularly important in relation to my recovery from depression. The more I’m able to anchor the process of my recovery through these experiences, the more sustainable it’ll be.”

How to Follow Scotland 365

The best way to follow along with Nick’s sea kayak journey around Scotland is to follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and keep his website bookmarked.

Want to kayak or camp with him on his trip? He invites you to follow his GPS tracking and meet up on the route. He looks forward to meeting new friends this way. Be sure and contact him through either of his social channels linked above to arrange a meet-up.

Scotland 365 post "A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single paddle stroke"

Nick created this poster in honor of Scotland 365

You’ll find more details on his Invitation to Get Involved page.

(All photos courtesy of Nick Ray)

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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