Meet our new Crew Member!

It's a New Year and we are delighted to introduce you to AOTW's newest crew member - Sophie Palmer!

Sophie is based in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and brings a wealth of sailing experience to our racing team - here is the statement in her own words

"I started sailing at the age of 6 and since then I have become a dinghy instructor and a Yachtmaster Offshore. I have over 10,000 nm under my belt and I enjoy both inshore and offshore racing. My greatest yachting achievement has to be coming 3rd in the double-handed Azores and back race in 2019 which I did with my dad. I have a passion for sailing but wish to make a career in outdoor education working with those with special needs. When I was in school, I volunteered as a TA in a special educational school, which is where this interest began. I first became aware of Autism on the Water and the amazing work they do through a friend's post on Facebook. I am proud to be a part of this organisation and I love the fact that they are providing opportunities for individuals to try something they may never have had the chance to do. Building their confidence not just on the water but in everyday life too".

Sophie's debut on the team will be the Scottish Series in early June and she will be part of some very exciting events which are due to be announced very soon!

End of Year Party! 

We had an absolutely FANTASTIC evening at our end of year party for our charity! An outstanding 37 people attended our event! The evening was absolutely tremendous with everyone having a fabulous time socialising with old friends, making new friends and supporting our charity. Following the sales of both event tickets and raffle tickets, we raised just over £750!!

It was also a chance for us to present Claire Watson for her award as Volunteer of the year for the charity!

 Our sincere thanks to everyone who attended and particular thanks to The Old Bell for hosting the event and our amazing band Pictism! And to Angie Davis, who made a wonderful cake! 

Volunteer of the Year!

As of this year - we have started announcing "Volunteers of the Year" awards. AOTW would no way be able to operate without the sheer dedication, drive and use of free time from the incredible amount of wonderful volunteers. Our volunteers range from skippers to crew members to canal helpers to boat maintenance helpers. There are so many! 

But we can only pick one out of so many and after careful consideration, we have decided to award our first-ever Volunteer of the year prize to our amazing crew member Claire Watson! 

Claire came on board the AOTW team in early 2020 as a member of the 707 team. When Lockdown first started, Claire was instrumental in helping the charity source crew members, seek potential sponsors and clothing supporters for the charity as well as fundraising and supporting our brand. She has been our rock throughout the 2021 season, doing a phenomenal job as bowgirl on our 707 in sometimes tense moments on the racecourse. She's not just one of our teammates or volunteers but a good friend with a heart of gold and always on hand for advice and help when she can. 

Congratulations Claire and thank you! Your presentation will take place on the 27th of November! 

Flossie got her sail!

Both our boats are now ashore for the winter - however we had one last sailing duty to perform for this year. Flossie Wilson who is autistic and her mother Jenny were supposed to join Confidence for the Round Shuna Pursuit Race back in August - however due to tragic circumstances that occurred there at the time, we had to cancel their trip. 

However we promised Flossie that we would get her out for a sail and thanks to the generous support of Port Edgar YC member Ian Hards, we were able to get both Flossie and Jenny out for a stunning sail on the Firth of Forth on Ian's X-332 Hardslog in cold but beautiful sailing conditions. Flossie regularly sails dinghies at RFYC - Royal Forth Yacht Club and she impressed us all with her excellent helming skills, helming Hardslog in 13 knots of wind both upwind and downwind with the spinnaker up! She did magnificently well and we were very proud to award her a AOTW Crew Certificate which we present to each individual after a sail with Autism on the Water! Well done Flossie! 

A big thank you again to Ian for the use of Hardslog and crew work from Paul and Linda.

707 Scottish Championships

Our final racing event of the year was the 707 Scottish Championships hosted by the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club. Once again a very windy event but perhaps the best our team has ever sailed as we welcome back old friends Steven Fortieth, Ben Miller and Andrew Chapman along with our amazing stalwart Claire Watson. 

The racing was held on the East Patch in winds between 20 and 35kts at times which saw a number of incidents across the fleet - however Team AOTW sailed some excellent races winning most of the starts and being well up there in the fleet and finishing a outstanding 11th overall out of 21 boats which was a great results to finish what has been a very busy season.

Our thanks as always to our amazing crew for without them we could not race.  

707 Largs Event 

We headed for a new venue on our 707 in early October which was the new 707 Largs Regatta kindly hosted by Largs Sailing Club. Once again we had a totally new team for the boat - but all sailors of excellent experience who sailed and worked hard in challenging conditions which saw AOTW sailing some excellent legs upwind although we do need to work on our downwind skills. It was also great having Confidence with us as mothership for the event and we made some contacts with further yachtsman who are keen to support the charity. Team AOTW finished 10th overall out of 12. 

Our thanks to John, Manuel, Rory and Storm for sailing with us.

707 Sprints Slam 

We were back racing at the popular 707 Sprints Slam hosted by Port Edgar Watersports. A event not for the faint hearted as it involved multiple races with only 20 min length races. For this event we were joined by our friends Team Sharky from Hartlepool as we were short crewed. 

The event was challenging for us with light winds on the first day followed by very strong winds on day 2 which resulted in a infringement between ourselves and CRHU. Both boats substained damage and had to retire from the race but thankfully no one was hurt, the damage was minimal and both skippers calmly resolved the situation in a friendly manner once back ashore. 

We finished a respectable 13th overall out of 20 boats. Our thanks go to Micky Early, Anthony Cooper, Phil Hope and Pete Fenwick for joining us for the weekend and a big thank you to Dennis Penny for these excellent photographs!


For the first time ever - AOTW made the journey south of the border to exhibit the charity at the Southampton International Boat Show - the biggest boat show in the UK.

We spent a considerable amount of time considering whether us attending this show would be of benefit to the charity. Following the cancellation of the Scotland's Boat Show and no other events in Scotland where we could promote our work - we decided to take the gamble and invest into exhibiting AOTW at Southampton. It was also a trial to see if AOTW would be well recieved on the south coast of England which is the captial of sailing.

Both Murray and Darren Taylor were there for the full duration of the show where we welcomed many hundreds of people each day and many of whom who had connections with autism, worked with autism and even those who were autistic themselves. We handed out many leaflets of information about the charity and recieved many requests to bring our boats down to the south coast in 2022 which we are now making plans to do so.

Away from our stand, it was a honour to have been picked as a special guest alongside other sailors as part of paraolympian sailor Hannah Stodel's talk at the big stage at the boat show. Hannah is also one of AOTW's trustees and it was a pleasure to finally meet her in person! We also had the pleasure of meeting Ian of HJ Sailing who are big fans of AOTW. Ian was at the show promoting his campaign for the upcoming Golden Globe Race in 2022 - a tough and gruelling race around the world single handed. We were deeply touched that Ian and his team at the show helped us with fundraising and we look forward to working with them as partners in raising awareness of each other's campaigns.

A brillant amount of donations were recieved at the show and AOTW came home with over £500 in donations. Our sincere thanks to absolutely everyone for making our first trip to the show a success but especially to Darren Taylor for none of this would have been as successful as it was without him. 

Where is Confidence just now?

Following our period of racing our Hunter 707, we returned back to our flagship "Confidence" which had been based in Oban for most August. Our thanks first of all go to Joey Gough for the use of his mooring in Oban.

Our plan was to take part in the Clyde Corinthian Yacht Club Round Shuna Pursuit Race where young Flossie Wilson who was on the autistic spectrum was supposed to join us alongside her Mum Jenny. Confidence left Oban single handily sailed by Murray where she had a night in a small anchorage before heading to Ardfern Yacht Centre where we were joined by crew members Manuel and Paul. We took part in the Ardfern to Craobh Passage race but due to very light winds, we had to retire from the race due to having no chance of finishing within the time limit. 

On the Sunday morning of the Round Shuna Race, we awoke in Craobh Marina to the absolutely devestating news that a fellow compeitor in the race and friend of the charity had tragically passed away. This came as a massive shock to all involved especially within the Oban congregate and because of this, the race committee made the right decision to cancel the race. We informed Jenny and Flossie of what had happened and we will be organising another sailing day for them in the near future. 

Confidence quietly made her way back south through the Crinan Canal via Tarbert Harbour and she is now safely back in Rhu Marina. We would like to thank everyone for their kind support throughout this difficult period.  

Royal Forth YC One Design Weekend

Following a successful 707 nationals - AOTW returned to the racing scene to take part in the Royal Forth Yacht Club One Design Regatta at Granton in Edinburgh. 

We love coming to this event where the club always put on a warm welcome for compeitors and of course the 707 fleet who as always brought most of the fun and a healthy 9 707s turned up to race at this event. Sadly the wind was not playing ball and on day 1 of racing we only managed 2 short races in windless and wet conditions. Day 2 brought beautiful wind and sunshine but sadly a large amount of foggy haar was in the air and for safety reasons, racing was abandoned despite the best efforts of race officers Margaret and Paul.

AOTW finished in joint 6th place overall. Thanks go to our crew of Ian Hards, Micky Early, Mark Taylor and Mike Bowley and to the Royal Forth YC for hosting us once again.


Our busy summer got busier as straight after our trip on the west coast - we returned back to Port Edgar ready for the Hyde Sails Hunter 707 UK National Championships. We invested alot of time and effort into our 707 this year to ensure we went to this event as competitive as we could. We replaced our mast and rigging with thanks to CRHU and Coast to Coast Rigging for their help with this and especially to Marlow Ropes for generously donating a full set of brand new ropes for the boat.

27 boats entered this event and we knew this was going to be a tough event from the first day. Our crew were loyal members of the AOTW team and although each had sailed on the boat in other events, this was the first time we had all sailed together. The event consisted of all seasons of weather from sunshine and heavy rain to winds of 0 kts to 20 kts. Close racing was always had and we were absolutely delighted to finish this event in 17th overall out of 27 boats.

We have had our 707 since 2018 and our determination was not to come last and we achieved that and it is all down to the solid work of our team of Claire Watson, Ramsay Lechuars, Tilly Matthews and John McNeilge along with Mark Taylor who sailed on day 1. Our charity are immensly proud of what the team achieved over the 4 days - the 707 class remains a massive part of our work in autism awareness and marketing the charity and we have no intentions of parting from the 707 for a long time yet.

Finally - we want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Sonja Mitchell and the team at Jump Ship Brewing who were our sponsors for the event. They too were delighted with the success of the event and also the success of their products which were well recieved by competitors during the event!

Autistic People get their first race on Confidence!

At the end of July, our cruiser Confidence travelled up to Oban from Rhu via the Crinan Canal to take part in the first few days of West Highland Yachting Week. We have been stalwart supporters of this unique event for a long time and we were delighted to bring Confidence to the event in her first racing debut. 

What was more special was 4 people with autism and their parent or carer came and joined us for the two days racing off Craobh Marina and the return leg to Oban.

On day 1, Tyler Mitchell and Geoffery Files along with parents Helen and Lucy came on board for the Round Shuna inshore race on a glorious west coast summers day racing alongside 52 other competing yachts. It was a slow start to the race with little wind and Confidence needs alot of wind to get going - but we soon had a fantastic sail with the young people taking turns at helming the boat and Tyler had the honour of steering Confidence across the finish line with a loud toot and round of applause from the committee boat! Both Tyler and Geoffery earnt their certificates for their achievements that day.

Day 2 was a early start for the passage race from Craobh back to Oban. This time we were joined by autistic couple Derek and Margaret who travelled all the way from Edinburgh especially for this day. Sadly however there was very little wind and despite efforts from the race committee to get a start underway, racing eventually got abandoned which was a bit of a dissappointment however the day was not wasted and Margaret and Derek were taught things from knot tying to navigation chart reading and of course steering.

The main aim of this event was to trial how people with autism would take to racing on board Confidence whilst also having the ability to relax inside the cabin and do their own things if they wanted too and we are pleased to report that this was a big success. 

We'd like to express a huge thanks to Hydropool Scotland for generously sponsoring this event for us and to The Foggy Pear Craft Company for the wonderful certificates for the young people! And most importantly a big thank you to delivery crew Lee Barrett and Alistair White and race crew member Rebecca Wilson for all their help. 


We are absolutely delighted to welcome on board another new sponsor which is Hydropool Scotland. Hydropool is a company that operates across Europe selling and marketing a wide range of water leisure products such as Hot Tubs, infinity pools etc. 

The company Director Mark Aikman came across our charity back in 2019 whilst actually racing against each other at the Kip Regatta. Since then, Mark and his family have followed our activities and also have personal involvements in Autism too. Mark and the team of Hydropool are our sponsors for the special Autism race days at West Highland Yachting Week which 4 people with autism have signed up to race with us on board Confidence starting in Craobh Marina. 

We are extremely grateful to Mark and his team for their generosity to AOTW and like all our other sponsors and supporters, we look forward to working with them in creating positive partnerships on our journey raising autism awareness and encouraging autistic people to get out on the water. 

And a fun fact - not only is Mark and Hydropool a new sponsor, Mark is also a rival on the 707 scene for he will be competing also at the HYDE SAILS 707 Class Association National Championships on board Baby Beluga so we look forward to some tight competition with each other!


We are absolutely thrilled and delighted to announce that a new sponsor has joined Autism on the Water in the form of Jump Ship Brewing who have kindly come on board as our sponsors for the HYDE SAILS 707 UK National Championships. 

Jump Ship is a brewery run and founded by Sonja Mitchell. They sell a range of alcohol-free beer and is themed around sailing. Sonja herself is a very keen sailor and has travelled avidly to many places sailing and trying many different beers before finally setting up her own company which has become Jump Ship! Sonja found out about AOTW through The Meadows Share community where we have been helping much of the Edinburgh community throughout the pandemic and she recently interview us on our journey.

We are absolutely thrilled that Jump Ship has come on board to support us for the 707 Nationals which are now just a matter of weeks away. Preparations are well underway for the event with a new mast, new rigging and new halyards all arriving this week for our 707 and our crew are recruited and we are so excited to be taking part in this years event and of course raising Autism awareness and we are so grateful to the support of Sonja and the team at Jump Ship for helping make this happen for us.


We are thrilled to announce to you - a brand new sponsor to Autism on the Water in the form of Studycat! Studycat is a company based in Hong Kong which provides language learning solutions for young kids, to experience the joy of learning a foreign language (English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese. 

Their ethos similar to ours are to increase Confidence, Problem Solving and Social Skills and so fits in perfectly with AOTW.The connection from Studycat came from Johan Leven who our founder Murray met back during the 2017-18 The Ocean Race in Hong Kong where coincidentally where our first connections with David Witt and team Scallywag were made. Upon joining the AOTW brand - Johan said "Studycat believes that learning should be active and fun, not only generating the relevant skills but instilling a love of learning and creating the beautiful confidence that arises when people learn with self-motivation. 

 AOTW's focus on confidence, problem solving and social skills resonates perfectly with Studycat's ethos and approach".Studycat have generously sponsored £5,000 in funds to be split between our cruiser Confidence and our Hunter 707. 

In addition to financial help, Studycat have also offered to donate 50 free subscriptions to the Studycat apps, 10 for each language (English, Spanish, French, German and Chinese). The apps are designed for kids 3-8, but we find that they are enjoyed by much older youngsters as well, and even adults looking to learn the basics of a new language in a fun, gamified way.We are so excited to welcome this wonderful and internationally recognised sponsor on board our journey going forward with AOTW.


Team AOTW were back on the 707 once again for the Mudhook Regatta again on the East Patch racing area and sponsored by Saturn Sails. It was a weekend of fantastic sailing conditions but for the team it was challenging due to crew shortages in the strong winds where weight on the rail of the boat was limited. Despite the sad results we endured on the scoreboard, the team had alot of fun pushing the boat hard in the strong winds and enjoying some excellent surfing downwind hitting boat speeds of 11 knots at times. 

Our thanks to all the organisers of the regatta for once again pulling off a event during the current situation we are all facing globally. 


After a sincerely difficult few months, a very long and expensive delay due to a broken down engine in the Caledonian Canal, we are delighted to announce that Confidence has finally touched base at her new home in Rhu Marina on the Clyde after a very long journey from Port Edgar. 

The delays we experienced with Confidence and the very unexpected changes that we faced due to her break down was beyond our control. Safety is our priority within the charity and Confidence needs to be fully safe to operate for our young people so we made the decision to leave the boat in Fort Augustus to await a professional repair before continuing her journey south.

But now she is fixed and in her new base in Rhu Marina ready for operations within the coming weeks as we finish off a few little jobs before welcoming young people on board her. We will publish dates (whilst taking into accout current government guidelines) in the coming days. 

We would like to thank everyone for all their support throughout Confidence's difficult journey over the last month. 


After such a long period - AOTW returned back to the racing scene on our Hunter 707 competing in a modified Scottish Series. This regatta is usually based at Tarbert, Loch Fyne but understandbly due to COVID restrictions, the Clyde Cruising Club made the decision to split the fleet across 3 venues on the Firth of Clyde and cancelling all social events. It was fantastic for our team to be back out racing against our friends in the 707 fleet, we were racing up on the East Patch between Rhu and James Watt Dock. 

12 707s took part along side other One Design Classes and despite very light wind condtions all throughout the event, a full schedule of 6 races were held across the fleets.

Team AOTW finished a very satisfying 6th overall at the event which is our best Scottish Series result ever in the 4 years we have been racing under the organisations brand. Two 3rd places and a 4th place were our best results and our team were absolutely flawless throughout the whole event, working hard to do well but also raise awareness of our cause and have fun at the same time.

Our sincere thanks to everyone within the Clyde Cruising Club for helping make this event happen during such challenging times that we are still currently facing. 


After months of planning, hundreds of emails and negotiations, volunteer hunting, sponsorship hunting whilst also compromising around a Pandemic! AOTW finally hosted our Crinan Canal festival over the weekend of the 22nd-23rd May. 

It was a event without its challenges, in addition to all the Covid regulations, we had to run the event without our new cruiser Confidence being there which had been subject to a broken down engine and was unable to be ready in time for the event. This caused alot of upset amongst the organisation however we were so thankful we could still run the event and that would not have been possible without the help and generosity of Alan and Maggie Moore who kindly supplied the use of their yacht Delinquient. 

17 people with autism plus their families travelled from all over Scotland to take part in a life changing trip along the Crinan Canal in glorious weather. The support of the community within the Canal area was amazing and we would like to thank the following for helping make it happen

Scottish Canals, Tunnocks, Wood MacKenzies, Polly's Coffee Stop, The Square Peg, The Foggy Pear Craft Company, Coastwatch, The Stag Hotel, Fiona Higgins Photography, Terry Carthorne, Darren Taylor, Kaye Johnstone, Mike Bowley, Colin Robertson, David Devoy, Donna Mallen and Kaye Johnstone's Grandson. 

We are so grateful to all for making this event happen!

Please see our CRINAN CANAL page for more photos of the event. 


A magnificent milestone for our charity!

After a substantial 5 month refit - Autism on the Water finally launched our Colvic Victor 34 "Confidence" into the water at Port Edgar Marina ltd. on Monday 19th April. 

It is a fantastic achievement for the charity to have reached this moment during what is still an ongoing difficult time for many across the world. Formally known as "Victoria M", Confidence was bought by Autism on the Water back in December 2020 after a magnificent fundraising campaign where we raised the required funds in a remarkable 27 hours! Following the purchase of the boat, it has been a long process to bring the boat back to a seaworthy condition.

AOTW founder Murray MacDonald said, "when we bought the boat, she was in a stable but poor condition particularly in the interior section which has required a rebuild - the work and process have been long and hard but the particular hard work has been massively well done by Gerry Fitzgerald along with Jock Blair and Colin Robertson, without them, I do not think we would have reached this milestone so I thank them once again from the bottom of my heart for making what I thought was a dream into a reality".  

At the launch ceremony, AOTW was presented with a specially made plaque to celebrate the boat's launch by a group of charity supporters who have supported the charity throughout the project and now has a pride of place in the wheelhouse of Confidence. 

AOTW would like to thank the following who have all contributed to this project -  

Community Windpower

Lifting Safety

Dalgety Bay Sailing Club

Owen Sails

Saturn Sails


Clothworkers Foundation

Port Edgar Marina ltd.


Bramall Boat Care

Gerry Fitzgerald

Jock Blair

Colin Robertson

Mike Bowley

All who donated to the GoFundMe campaign


And the support keeps coming!! Delighted to welcome TWO new supporters to Autism on the Water - Rhu Marina and The Old Bell. 

Rhu Marina has given the charity a very generous discount for us to base our new Cruiser within the marina for a few months over the summer. Rhu is located just outside of Helensburgh with fabulous transport links from both Edinburgh and Glasgow which will make this marina a great base for our activities over the summer.

The Old Bell is a small inn based in Edinburgh and has come on board to support the charity with the use of their facilities for charity fundraising events and meetings in the future when hospitality reopens. We are very grateful for everyone's support!


After months of waiting and organising, our special Crinan Canal Festival is going ahead on the weekend of the 22nd-23rd May. There have been slight modifications to comply with Covid safety precautions which are likely to still see some restrictions in place at the time but following the first minister of Scotland's lockdown exit route map, we are confident that we can run an event safely. Please click the button above where you can access all information!   

A boost from the Clothwork Foundation!

We are absolutely thrilled to have been successful in the awarding of a grant from The Clothworkers Foundation. The funds from this grant will go towards the continued works of our project, the Colvic Victor 34 cruiser ready for launching in the spring as well as additional works going forwards as we prepare for a full program with the boat. We are very grateful to The Clothworkers Foundation for this grant and will look forward to keeping them updated on our progress. 

Welcome on board Helly Hansen!

And the supporter's list has just got bigger! We are absolutely thrilled to welcome on board Helly Hansen as a new supporter of Autism on the Water. It is an honour to be associated with this high-quality company with going forwards on our mission to raise awareness of the Autistic Spectrum through Sailing and assisting individuals to get out on the water!

Welcome on board Seahorse Chandlery!

We are absolutely thrilled to welcome yet another new sponsor and supporter to Autism on the Water in the form of Seahorse Chandlery! Seahorse Chandlery is based near Ardrossan on the Clyde and is an excellent well-stocked chandelier selling a wide selection of all boating needs from safety equipment to ropes to blocks to paint etc. They have come on board to sponsor Autism on the Water with complementary products which will be used towards our new Cruiser and also special discounted rates on other products. We are very excited and grateful to Declan Cox and his team for coming on board with us and joining the increasing list of wonderful supporters and sponsors within our charity!

Community Windpower joins as newest Sponsor for AOTW 

Autism on the Water is absolutely delighted to welcome onboard a brand new sponsor to the charity! Community Windpower

This company has given an incredibly generous donation of £5,000 to the charity. The money will be used to drive AOTW forwards with getting our new yacht ready for the season and providing regular activities on the water for people with autism. The owner of the company Diane Wood came across us through her daughter who discovered AOTW on The Meadows Share Facebook group - a community group of locals from Edinburgh where our founder Murray has been making soup for the people of the city to help them through the challenging times we are all facing currently. The scheme that Murray has created with the soup delivering has been to help those living on their own or self-isolating or just in general needing cheering up, asking for no payment but to like our Facebook page which as of today reach 6,000 likes and is still growing! 

We cannot thank Community Windpower enough for such a generous contribution to the charity and we look forward to working with them over the next few months in partnership to create awareness on both organisations!

2021 is here!

We wish all of you a very Happy New Year for 2021 and here is really hoping it will be a happy one!

We are still living in the most severe of restrictions currently - but with vaccination programs now fully in operation we really hope that it will not be long until we return to a form of normality. 

We completed the purchase of our new cruising yacht "VictoriaM" just before Christmas. We are ever so pleased with our new buy and we honestly cannot thank everyone enough for their support throughout the purchase and the generosity of the financial support we received. 

We have done the easy bit which is buying the boat but now we face the challenge of preparing for the water. We still have a lot of work to do on the interior of the yacht and some minor hull repair. We are looking for some sponsorship help to enable us to get the boat ready to be launched as soon as possible. We know asking for money is difficult right now understandably but if you are interested in supporting AOTW to provide more sailing opportunities to autistic people then please don't hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss! 


New times ahead for Autism on the Water! 

Autism on the Water are absolutely thrilled and delighted to announce that our recent big fundraiser to purchase a Colvic Victor 34 motorsailer has been a huge success! In an astonishing 27 hours since the charity launched our GoFundMe page a couple of weeks ago, the charity raised the funds required to purchase the boat. Since the funds were raised the process has begun to complete the purchase with paperwork and final details still to be fully finalised before full ownership is confirmed which we will be completed within the coming days. 

 Director and Founding Trustee Murray MacDonald said "this is a huge achievement for the charity above anything we have ever done, we came across this boat quite recently and it ticked all our boxes to what we want to do with it. In the last couple of weeks, we have worked closely with the owners, working out all the logistics for the purchase. When we launched the fundraiser, I personally thought this was not going to work, but the generosity from members of the public, friends, family along with the Orcome Trust, Mark Cameron Yachts, Creran Marine, Tunnocks and Lifting Safety who covered our balance to complete the fundraiser has been extremely overwhelming. In fact, we went over our original target and anything spare will go towards the word required on the boat. Our GoFundMe page will remain open for the time being for anyone wishing to donate towards the project".

The yacht will be the start of a major new drive for Autism on the Water to provide more regular sailing trips across Scotland and around the United Kingdom - the boat is extremely well equipped to provide sailing to autistic people of all ages and anyone within the sailing and marine fraternity who wish to learn how autistic people can benefit through the sport. The boat will be fully equipped with everything from safety equipment and new electronics to both indoor and outdoor steering facilities which will give options to autistic people who may not be comfortable helming a boat in bad weather!

The journey for the new project is not over yet as Autism on the Water proceeds on to complete the final details of the sale and then it will be "all hands on deck" to get the boat ready for launching in 2021. "We have a fair amount of work to do," said Murray "once we have completed all the final details of the sale and picked up the keys, we will go straight to work on the jobs required, it is mainly interior and cosmetic work but we are very confident we will be ready to launch for next year". The charity will also be working through the substantial amount of regulation paperwork such as full risk assessments, coding etc. "Safety is of most upmost importance and it will take sometime before we begin our new programme for young people" said Murray "we want to ensure that absolutely EVERYTHING is done by the book before we start doing regular trips". 

The plans for the 2021 season are still ongoing but the charity plans a number of sea trials for the boat and volunteer and crew training before the season starts concluding with an official launch ceremony and open day. "The initial plan is to start small and work our way up" confirmed Murray "as mentioned we want to ensure everything is in good order, we still don't fully know our plans for 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic but with recent vaccine announcements we are very confident we will have a very busy and exciting season with our new boat. We are planning to have a little tour around the country to all the regatta venues for our Hunter 707 where we will be inviting local autistic children to come and spectate all our racing, we will also be in attendance at the big Crinan Canal weekend and we will also be having taster days around the country to provide local sailing for autistic people, this will enable the charity to get a more bigger idea and prospective on what regular programmes could look like for autistic people which will allow us to go into 2022 to fully and officially launch the programme with trained volunteers and crew, recruitment for this will begin upon completion of the boat's purchase - there will be masses of opportunities open to everyone for autistic people and those wishing to volunteer".

Finally, asked what his overall thoughts were, Murray said "it still has not fully sunk in yet, but I think it will once the sale is fully completed. This organisation started as one small Facebook page 4 years ago on a cold, wet and windy night in my flat in Edinburgh! Now it's a registered charity with a great team of trustees, massive following on social media with over 3500 likes and followers on Facebook, generous sponsors both financially and in-kind, a super racing boat, a great race team, international recognition, triple awareness of Autism and most importantly we are making a difference to the lives of autistic people and that for me is what all of this is about - I seriously cannot thank everyone enough for their generosity in this project and not just for this boat but for everything associated with Autism on the Water. Everyone from a sponsor to a donor, to a crew member, to someone who just clicks like on Facebook - all of that makes one massive difference and all of that difference has got us to where we are just now. I really am delighted". 

Autism on the Water will make a further announcement upon completion of the sale as well as more details for the boats plans and future in the next few days. We'd once again like to take this opportunity to thank absolutely everyone for all their support in many ways and for those still wishing to make a donation or those wishing to potentially sponsor the charity - please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss.

Annual Public Meeting 

 Saturday 31st October

The Autism on the Water Public General Meeting will take place via Zoom link on SATURDAY 31ST OCTOBER AT 7PM UK TIME.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the public, sponsors, crew, volunteers, trustees etc. to come and hear about the charity, hear about our year, meet the trustees and for you to bring your ideas forward and see if we can potentially bring them to live.

Please see our Facebook page for more information! 

AOTW Crew Camp - 15th/16th August 2020

At long last - we were delighted to finally welcome our brand new crew up to Port Edgar near Edinburgh for our first Crew Camp together. Claire Watson, Ellie Clark, Tilly Matthews and our media guru Georgie Pritchard all made the effort and commitment even during these strange times to come and enjoy weekends sailing together as a team. 

As a team, we straight away got on well. On day 1 we hoisted our beautiful Hyde Sails which were donated by David and Kim Witt of Professional Yachting Services Hong Kong last year and spent an enjoyable afternoon all taking turns at roles on the boat and practising many hoists, drops, gybes and tacks. On Day 2 we made it more challenging for ourselves by doing more sprint type courses which tested the crew's physical strength and speed. This was followed by taking part in an informal race run by Port Edgar Yacht Club which we have predicted to have won! 

We are so very proud of our new team - their performance onboard was outstanding and there not only committed to all the racing we plan to do in 2021 but they are also passionate about helping autistic people access sailing and are looking forward to welcoming guest autistic people for small races in the future. 

We'd like to express our sincere thanks to Port Edgar Marina Ltd. Saildoctor Ltd. and Riggerous for all their help with boat preparation, sail preparation, berthing, craning etc. 

All photos below are owned by Georgie Pritchard and must not be used without permission. 


The entire team of AOTW would like to apologise for the long delay in our website being updated during the Coronavirus Pandemic. As of March 2020, the UK was placed into Lockdown and for the safety of the general public and to protect the NHS and emergency services - the vast majority of sailing events for 2020 have been cancelled which has included pretty much all of AOTW's planned schedule for this year. The charity has followed on from government guidelines by taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our crew, our autistic participants, trustees, volunteers etc. 

Our Crinan Canal trip which was scheduled for May has now been cancelled and moved to a new date of 22nd-23rd May 2021. Scottish Canals and Argyll Backpackers have been an absolute pleasure to deal with in the rescheduling of this event and Pam of Argyll Backpackers has been an absolute superstar in accommodating us for next year - there has been a slight change of plan, following feedback from participants we have changed the accommodation for a ONE NIGHT STAY instead of two nights. We have already emailed interested parties for the event but if you have not received the email and have paid for your accommodation, please get in touch with us.

It has been a massive disappointment to see everything being cancelled for this year but we understand that the safety of everyone is of the highest priority. However, AOTW has been working very hard behind the scenes on a number of projects for 2021 which we will announce in the coming days. In the meantime, we'd like to express our sincere condolences to the families who have lost loved ones during this pandemic and say a big thank you to all the essential services for doing all they can to protect us during this time.

Stay Safe from all of us at AOTW

Murray MacDonald            


We are absolutely delighted to welcome David Robertson and Cloud Nine Yacht Charters as a new sponsor to Autism on the Water

Davey Robertson is an experienced sailor from Oban who runs the successful yacht charter business with his Elan 434. Davey's association with not just the charity but with founder Murray MacDonald goes way back as Davey used to race with and against Murray's late father Kenny for many years on a variety of racing yachts named "Aperitif" which included a First Class 8 & 10, a Contessa 27, a Grand Soleil 34 and a Hunter 707! It is quite unique to learn that Davey purchased one of the very first 707 Class Association boats as brand new back in the early 1990s as a construction kit which he assembled together himself and raced very successfully for many years which included many of The Scottish Islands Peaks Races which involved sailing overnight and around tough waters such as the Mull of Kintyre!

Cloud Nine Yacht Charters have very generously offered to provide us with the use of their Elan 434 when not being used for charters to be used for taking Autistic people for day trips out of Oban during the summer and in addition, Cloud Nine will be our sponsors for the HYDE SAILS 707 UK Nationals in August which seems an appropriate and perfect event for Davey to help us with seeing as he owned one of the very first 707s!

Murray said "the charity is growing and growing every day with more and more new support coming in, to have Davey and Cloud 9 onboard supporting us is really wonderful! We are very grateful to Davey for very kindly stepping in to support AOTW, he has been a fan of the charity for quite some time and its even more touching for me personally as he was a friend of my late Dad who was a keen sailor in Oban and they had great racing against each other, we look forward to working with Davey and his team throughout the summer in particularly with planning day trips from Oban for autistic people on his well-equipped yacht".



Thanks to the generosity of recently being awarded a grant from the Robertson's Trust Funding for Wee Groups. Autism on the Water is delighted to be organising another trip on the Crinan Canal but this time it is a whole WEEKEND! We have 4 yachts taking part. Spaces are limited to 50 people. With free transport on offer from Glasgow and Edinburgh, discounted accommodation, a free welcome reception, a free barbecue etc. We want to encourage early booking! If you would like to be part of this, please email for a copy of a booking form! Or visit our Facebook page  

AOTW Founder recognised for sailing performance!

Our founder Murray MacDonald attended the Port Edgar Yacht Club Annual Prizegiving and was delighted to accept the prestigious Cork 2000 Trophy. This trophy was awarded for the best overall performance out with the Club's racing and Murray was awarded this for Autism on the Water's spectacular win during both West Highland Week and the 707 Sprints Slam.   


As previously mentioned, we were absolutely honoured and delighted that our founder Murray MacDonald was shortlisted for an RYA Award, the prestigious Elizabeth MacKay award. This award is awarded to the sailor who has brought inclusivity into the sport. 

However, for now, this was not our time to win it and the well-deserved winner was Robyn Phillips from Aberdeen Sailing Trust. Everyone in the charity wishes to congratulate Robyn for all her achievements and efforts in the programme that she runs.

Although sad that we did not win, to be shortlisted was something that we are so very proud of. It just shows that Autism on the Water is now very much recognised and who knows, maybe one day we will win an award, but we do not do this for awards, we do it to change lives so once again from all at AOTW a massive THANK YOU to the RYA Scotland for shortlisting us.    

We have been Recognised by the RYA!

It is a fantastic honour that Autism on the Water has been shortlisted for an RYA Scotland Award!

The award is the Elizabeth MacKay Award which helps provide inclusivity and accessibility within the sport of sailing. This truly is a prestigious award and once again we are so honoured to be shortlisted and also grateful to those who nominated us for it!

We will find out the result on the 25th January at the RYA Scotland Awards Dinner where the winners will be announced!    

707 Scottish Championships! 

A Fantastic Final Weekend's racing of the year!

The final sailing event of the year for Autism on the Water was the Coast to Coast Rigging 707 Scottish Championships which were held in late October at Port Edgar Yacht Club. 

Cold was the weather, but it did not stop a fantastic turn out of 23 boats for this event which was brilliant for this time of year. With a well-drilled crew on board, AOTW started race 1 in breezy conditions with a fantastic committee boat end start by finding a gap and tacking away and this paid off big time as we took an excellent WIN! The rest of the competitors were quite surprised to see us fly away from everyone and take the winning gun! With lightning winds for the remainder of the day, the rest of the days results were slightly disappointing but no one could undo Race 1's win and for us that was a big achievement for us!

Day 2 dawned with a strong tide and light winds but increased throughout the day that saw us work our way back up the fleet to achieve modest results. The racing was so close that at the windward mark in one of the races, everyone arrived together which caused a lot of shouting and a few bumps occurring. AOTW finished 12th overall in the event which was a very modest way to finish what has been an outstanding sailing season.

Said Murray, "We are very happy with how the last event went for us, AOTW has come a long way within the 707 fleet, to once come consistently last in all races and now mixing it with some of the top boats is really fantastic and to win the first race was magic! It showed everyone that we are able to do it even after our fantastic event with the Scallywag team at the event, thanks to our experience of learning from Witty and the boys, we are now confident to go out on the race course and achieve some wins! 

I must express our sincerest thanks to Owen Sails who sponsored our costs for the event and to the crew of Ramsay, Ben, Iain and Rory who worked very hard together. I am sad that the season is now over but I am also looking forward to a nice break and planning an even bigger year for the charity in 2020".    


In October, we were very pleasantly surprised to receive a generous donation from world-renowned drinks company Coca-Cola! Their colleague Ross Fullarton who has links to the charity through sailing with our founder Murray in the past very kindly recommended that their donation to a small charity went to Autism on the Water. We are sincerely grateful to all within Coca-Cola for their contribution. The charity relies heavily on donations and sponsorship to keep our activities and awareness making going and every little helps and the money they have donated to the charity will be going to help create more autistic involved activities for 2020. Thank you once again from all at Autism on the Water!       

Owen Sails sponsor AOTW for 707 Scottish Championships

We are delighted to announce that Owen Sails agreed to be our sponsors for the final sailing event of the year which is the Coast to Coast Rigging Ltd 707 Scottish Championships.

Owen Sails are a large independent Sailmakers based at Tralee Bay just outside Oban, our founder Murray has had a long association with the company with various family members working at Owen Sails through the years.

We are extremely grateful to partners Diana Shellcock and John Grant who are extremely generous in helping us out as we head to the start line one last time this year to spread awareness on the race course. We are also delighted to welcome Ben Miller on board who works at Owen Sails as a manager and will be racing with us, Ben has sailed a few times with AOTW and has been a supporter of the charity since its inception.

Head to for more information on their products, they also supply quality covers, rigging etc. to suit your boating requirements.

Scotland's Boat Show

Autism on the Water had a very successful two days at Scotland's Boat Show at Inverkip. After a slow start on the first day, we had a very busy second day where many visitors came over and spoke to us about the charity and we were delighted to meet up with a representative from Scottish Canals and we will be announcing plans for further canal trips in 2020. 

We also spoke to people from the charity Able2Sail and also from Prestwick Sailing Club about ideas to work in partnership with Autism on the Water. 

It was a very worthwhile show to exhibit it and establish contacts for the charity. We also raised £55 from the day through donations. We look forward to returning in 2020 to exhibit again.  

Autism on the Water goes to Wales!

In September, we did something we had never done before with Autism on the Water. We travelled to Cardiff in Wales to exhibit at The Autism Directory Show. This is one of the biggest shows in the UK dedicated to Autism and thanks to the generosity of charity supporter Venetia Edmunds, we travelled south to publicise, network and raise further awareness of Autism on the Water. 

We had a fantastic day in Cardiff City Stadium with over 2,000 visitors to the show and over 400 of which visited our well set up stand. We were thrilled to meet many parents, carers, people on the spectrum etc. all showed a massive interest in AOTW and all were really keen for us to set up a sailing day in Wales. 

We also raised a modest total of £102.32 through the sale of our merchandise, competition entry to win a weekend in Edinburgh and our Lucky Dip. 

We once again extend our sincere thanks to Venetia for all her help and support of our charity and she also joined us for the show. We'd also like to thank Olivia Pullman who travelled to Cardiff with us too to assist with the show and to The Autism Directory for making us feel so welcome. 

With such a great response to our presence at the show, we are delighted to announce that we will be back again in 2020! 



After many months, the big weekend finally arrived as we greeted our ambassador and special guests David Witt along with his wife Kim and crew Charlie Wyatt and James Crampton of SHK Scallywag. 

The team travelled to Edinburgh to take part in the Port Edgar Watersports 707 Sprints Slam sponsored for us by The Foggy Pear Craft Company. David, Charlie, James and Ramsay Lechuars along with our director Murray raced against 19 other 707s over the weekend in some very tight and close one-design racing.

After a day of rig tuning, general maintenance and testing our beautiful brand new set of Hyde Sails courtesy of David and Kim, AOTW were greeted to perhaps the most perfect days sailing that Scotland could give. With cloudless blue skies, sunshine and a perfect 12kts of wind which increased to over 20kts throughout the day, the team had a splendid day on the water and shone with some excellent starts that produced four 1st places, the first time we ever won races in the 707 class! By the end of Day 1, AOTW was lying 2nd overall.

Day 2 dawned overcast with lighter winds and rain with a strong tide. A disaster of a start to the first race saw us disqualified for being over the line followed by a couple of rocky results after. But throughout the day the team fought back to scrape some 3rd and 4th places to finish a very satisfying 4th overall out of 20 boats in total. We were disappointed to have not done better but the overall goal for us was to finish in the top 5 placings and we achieved that to which we are delighted.

Autism on the Water would like to extend our sincerest thanks to David, Kim and the rest of both Team Scallywag and Professional Yachting Services Hong Kong for all their kindness, generosity, teaching and of course our new sails. Going forward, we will continue to be associated with this wonderful sailing team who have offered advice on how to continue pushing the charity forward. 

We sincerely hope that David and team will consider returning to Scotland in 2020 for another 707 regatta. Until then we will take all their knowledge that we learnt from their visit and will proudly continue to display the beautiful #ForeverFish logo on our 707 in memory of David's best friend John Fisher who was sadly lost during the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-2018.       


We were deeply saddened that we did not make the start line of the Scottish Two Handed Race run by Fairlie Yacht Club from Largs Yacht Haven. An attempt was made to deliver Autism on the Water from Inverkip to Largs the day before the race but bad weather of strong winds and big seas forced us to retreat back to the shelter of Kip Marina. However we were kindly loaned the use of "Ventura" a beautiful Bavaria 33 cruiser by AOTW crewmember Graham Cannell. 

Despite an effort to start the race which was a 40nm race to Holy Isle and back, gusts reached 37kts which caused alot of difficulty amongst the fleet and the two crew made the decision to retire from the race for safety reasons and retreat back to Largs for an ice cream!

Whilst we are sad that AOTW was unable to compete, the weekends weather certainly showed that within our charity, safety is of our highest priority and will always come first no matter what. We plan to be back again to Largs in 2020 for another go at the race and praying for better weather!   


Autism on the Water is heading to what will be our first public event, exhibiting at The Welsh Autism Show in Cardiff. Back by an anonymous donor, we will be at the show answering any questions about what we do for the charity, there will be many photographs, videos as well as merchandise for sale and a special Lucky Dip competition with great prizes. 

We are very excited to be making this trip to what is the UK's most popular show for Autism. It will also be a chance for us to network with many of the wonderful exhibitors at the show and learn their own stories of Autism and the awareness of it. If you are at the show, please come and say hello!   


On Saturday 24th August, 4 people on the autistic spectrum once again made a special trip on board our Hunter 707 yacht through the tranquil Crinan Canal but this time in the opposite direction from Crinan Basin to Ardrishaig Basin. It was touch and go whether the trip would go ahead as windy weather conditions the previous day nearly saw Autism on the Water turn back towards Oban however the crew of both our founder Murray and autistic crewmember Max pushed onwards and thankfully the weather calmed down enabling them to make safe passage through the Dorus Mhor towards Crinan Harbour.   

The 4 participants and their families had a great day transitting the canal with all taking turns at lock gate opening, throwing and catching ropes and driving the boat. All who came had an absolutely fantastic time especially getting the chance to steer the boat, some of which had never had the opportunity to do so before until then. We were also photographed by the Argyll Advertiser Newspaper as we travelled through the canal. 

With sincere thanks to all the volunteers who helped us on this trip and especially to Scottish Canals for allowing us to organise this day and for their charity discount on the passage through.



After such a fantastic and successful trip earlier in the year, we are once again hosting a day out on the Crinan Canal this time from Crinan to Ardrishaig for people with autism of all ages. The trip is free however donations would be greatly accepted. Please book to guarantee your place! Please email for a copy of our registration form!    


We made a very welcome return to West Highland Week which this year was kindly supported for us by David Sturrock Yachting. We had a fantastic 8 days of racing in often light and shifty winds and once more we raised awareness especially as we collected our first-ever wins with our boat since we purchased it last year! We are deeply proud that we achieved this and full credit must go to the entire crew who worked very hard all throughout the week to make this happen. We finished an outstanding 5th overall in Class 5! 

© 2019 Autism on the Water - Registered Scottish Charity Number - SC048999
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