Grandad who built a giant boat to go on one last adventure before selling it

An elderly adventurer who built a giant whale boat in 1996 is hoping to sail it to New York before selling it.

Tom McClean, 78, sailed the British Isles in “Moby” but hopes to cross the Atlantic before selling the unique boat with an adventure center he founded in 1969.

Grandfather of two Tom built Moby with the dream of sailing the 62-ton boat to New York – and he still hopes it will.

He made a career in the military with the Paratrooper Regiment and the SAS before moving to Loch Nevis, Ardintigh, Highlands in 1969, where he lived in a tent for a year before founding the Ardintigh Highland Outdoor Center.

Tom then became internationally famous because he was the first person to row single-handedly across the treacherous North Atlantic and then completed five transatlantic solo crossings from North America to Europe.

Now he’s selling the adventure center, which Moby is a part of, as he thinks it’s time to pass the baton on – but he’s not giving up on adventures just yet.

Tom, originally from Dublin, said: “I’m 78 years old if I had a good run since I’ve been there for 52 years.

“It is time to pass the baton on to someone who can run the center and take good care of it.

“Life goes on, when you are almost 80 you start putting your house in order.

“But that doesn’t mean that I’m done. Not even close. I still want to have adventure.

“I want to take Moby to New York and back as my last adventure, hopefully before it goes on sale.

“It’s always been a dream of mine since Moby was put together.”

The boat called Moby, after Tom’s own nickname Moby Dick, was launched at Burghead on the Moray Firth coast.

Tom’s dream gradually took shape for three years between 1992 and 1995 at the William Reid engineering firm’s manufacturing facility in Forres, Moray – it cost over £ 100,000 to assemble.

The steel-framed belly of the ship is equipped with cabins that provide living space for Tom’s long voyage.

The 20 meter high animal is powered by two diesel engines and can even spit water.

After the launch, Tom and Moby began a tour of the British Isles, stopping at 50 ports.

Tom said: “I got the nickname Moby Dick in the Paras when the minister gave us a lecture one day that I kept interrupting.

“Of course he didn’t like that, threw a bit of chalk at my head and said ‘Stop spitting Moby or I’ll harpoon you’, then the name Moby Dick stuck with me to this day.

“When I started planning my sailing, I wanted my adventures to be environmentally conscious.

“I thought what better way to promote an environmental endeavor than a whale, and what better name for a whale than Moby.

“Moby and I have traveled across the UK, stopping at 50 ports.

“On the northeast and east coasts, around London.

“It’s the only whale boat in the world and we’ve had some great adventures together.

“It’s pretty sad, but I hope I can still be in touch with Moby.”

Tom and wife Jill are now looking for the next adventure after deciding to sell the center and are looking for offers over 700,000 pounds.

Tom added, “Jill and I have been privileged to have lived all these years in a place as special and spectacular as Ardintigh Bay on the shores of Loch Nevis.

“We had the best life here and met so many wonderful people through running the center.

“We also enjoyed the peace and tranquility of this enchanting environment with its vast expanses and panoramic views over the lake to the Cuillin on Skye.

“It’s a beautiful place and we want to make sure that the center falls into the right hands.

“It is time to pass the baton on to new owners to enjoy this magical place as much as we do.”


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