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The Scottish Maritime Museum on Irvine Harbourside, North Ayrshire, gets set to welcome visitors back on Thursday (29 April) with an exciting new exhibition telling the story of a daring sea kayak adventure and plans for a seaside-themed family event in the Courtyard.

The award-winning Museum, which is housed within a vast former shipyard engine shed, opens with safety measures in place and a new exhibition celebrating the 40th anniversary of Scotland’s first major sea kayaking expedition.

‘Into the Maelstrom: The Scottish Kayak Expedition to North West Norway 1980’ charts the 28 day adventure into the Arctic Circle and the first recorded sea kayak crossing of one of the world’s largest whirlpools, the ‘Maelstrom’.

There’s free Museum entry for up to three children with each adult and other highlights include stepping inside MV Spartan, the only surviving Scottish-built ‘puffer’ in Scotland.

Visitors will also find a free and handy QR activated guide bringing to life the collection of nationally important historic vessels, engineering and shipbuilding tools and inventions across the Linthouse and Courtyard.

For those making a day of it, there are new picnic benches in the Courtyard, a coffee and gift shop in the Linthouse and new children’s play equipment.

The much-loved Boatshop and Puffers Café, which open on Monday 26, are also a few minutes walk away on the Harbourside.

With VisitScotland’s Good to Go status for safety measures in place and advance ticketing at www.scottishmaritimemuseum.org, the Scottish Maritime Museum is a great place to visit with friends and family as lockdown lifts.

Over at the Scottish Maritime Museum’s second site in Dumbarton, another new exhibition marks the reopening. ‘Woven Waves: The Jutland Tapestries’ by award-winning tapestry artist Katie Russell is a colourful but poignant exhibition reinterpreting one of the world’s largest naval conflicts.

David Mann, Director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, explains:

Once again, we’re delighted to reopen with some brand new highlights for everyone to enjoy.

“‘Into the Maelstrom’ is a fabulous, epic tale of adventure and achievement as four young friends battle tidal currents, a searing heatwave and food poisoning and bring all their skills to bear using equipment that is nothing like as efficient as it is today.

“Larger festivals might be on hold but we’ve expanded our children’s play area and we’re busy hatching plans for a Making Waves family event for the summer. We’ll be announcing more on that soon so everyone should keep an eye out on our social media and pop onto our website and sign up to our monthly What’s On! newsletter!

MV Spartan

Stepping inside the hold of MV Spartan, visitors can immerse themselves in the story of the hundreds of puffers which performed such a lifeline service delivering everything from cows, cars and cabbages to Scotland’s islands and remote coastal communities for over a hundred years.

‘Into the Maelstrom: The Scottish Kayak Expedition to North West Norway 1980’

‘Into the Maelstrom: The Scottish Kayak Expedition to North West Norway 1980’ 

charts the story of Jim Breen, Angus Mathieson, Bill Turnbull and Peter Wilson who, together, paddled 394 miles (634 kilometres) as they circumnavigated the two island groups of Lofoten and Vesterålen in North West Norway, 200 miles within the Arctic Circle.

During the 28 day expedition, the team also successfully achieved the first ever crossing of the ‘Maelstrom’ or, as it is sometimes known, the ‘Moskenstraumen’.

Exhibition highlights include two of the four ‘Baidarka Explorer’ kayaks, equipment, clothing, footage (both 8mm film taken by the team and archive news) and photographs from the expedition.

As well as the challenges of the Maelstrom, the team had to overcome very severe magnetic anomalies on certain stretches of the trip. They also suffered from bland, repetitive meals, only alleviated by occasional treats of Angel Delight and Cabana chocolate, as well as food poisoning and an unexpected heatwave.

‘Into the Maelstrom: The Scottish Kayak Expedition to North West Norway 1980’ and MV Spartan are included in Museum admission. 

Up to three children go FREE with each Adult Admission.

Advance tickets highly recommended.

For more information, or to book a visit the ticket page here


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