I will set out at the beginning of June and hope to have sailed or paddled round most of Britain by the end of August. All the way round mainland Britain by boat is approximately 2,200 nautical miles and almost certainly too far to travel in three months in a sailing canoe with a cruising speed of a little over 3 knots (equivalent to a fast walking pace). Most sailing yachts, with engines, take longer than this to sail round Britain. Taking the Caledonian Canal across northern Scotland knocks off around 400 nautical miles, saving about two weeks, and avoids the dangers of Cape Wrath and the Pentland Firth at the top of Scotland – making the round trip a bit more achievable. Even so, allowing for days ashore during bad weather it will often be necessary to sail or paddle for ten or more hours a day with departure times determined by the tides.
Maintaining this pace for three months will be physically and mentally demanding. Also, navigating the coastal waters of Britain in a small open boat, 16’ long by 40” wide with no engine, is not without its dangers. Prolonged spells of bad weather could easily lead to long delays, and yachts with autopilots (which can motor in calm conditions) frequently find three months an insufficient time-frame, so it’s by no means certain I’ll be able to get all the way round. However, I am determined to try and am sure it will be a memorable experience, whatever the outcome.
I will have no engine and will depend entirely on wind or paddle power to keep moving through the water – so no fuel, other than food, needed and no carbon emissions. I hope to be able to find somewhere to get ashore at the end of each day’s sailing and pitch a tent; however, an occasional night in a B&B or with anyone willing to put me up will be a welcome change and chance to sleep in a bed and recharge the phone, netbook and my batteries. If it’s not possible to get ashore easily, due to surf, difficult landings or river mud then an alternative will be to sleep in the canoe under a canvas tarp. Sailing itineraries are very difficult to predict as so much is dependent on wind and weather, and I know that if I have a fair wind, I’ll need to take maximum advantage of the opportunity to push on. However, there will be a few definite stopping points which I hope to be able to publicise in advance and I also hope to meet up with friends and work colleagues on my way round.
It will be possible to follow my progress by clicking on the link My Position which will take you to a Google maps page with frequent updates of my position.