A Motherwell powerboating enthusiast is attempting to be the first person to complete a solo circumnavigation of the entire coastline of Britain in an inflatable boat.
Ally Swarbrick will use an Excel Vanguard 435 to cover more than 1700 nautical miles in the ‘Round Britain SIB Challenge 2018’ in what is hoped will be a record breaking time of under 17 days.
Powered by a Suzuki outboard, the 4.35m craft set off from Hamble Point Marina in Southampton and will take in refuelling locations including Torbay, Milford Haven, Liverpool and Oban and eventually finishing again at Hamble Point next week.
Ally (45) was inspired to take on the gruelling challenge after watching similar attempts on YouTube. The HGV driver and RIB fanatic has completed several shorter voyages, but nothing on this scale.
He said: “My first challenge will being getting past Milford Haven in Wales where other attempts have come into difficulties, so anything past there I can really go for it and hopefully get around.
“I won’t be going around Ireland, but will hug the coastline about half a mile from shore to stay away from the rocks yet be close enough to land should anything go wrong.
“Once around the point and depending on the weather, I’m looking to cut across to the Isle of Man to refuel before heading up into Scotland before heading back down the East coast.
“Suzuki Marine has kindly offered support from their dealer network should there be any issues along with Excel Boats staff and two friends in Scotland on standby for additional back up.
“I’m expecting the journey to take somewhere between 16-19 days, and hope it doesn’t take longer because my employer hasn’t given me the green light for any additional time off yet!
“It not going to be an easy trip and I was feeling fairly nervous this morning, yet excited at the same time. To complete the challenge would be absolutely fantastic and would, as far as I’m aware, make me the first person to go around Britain on an inflatable craft. It would simply be brilliant.”
The Vanguard 435 is equipped with a long-shaft transom which affords a deeper freeboard and extra assistance in a following sea, VHF/DSC radio, Lowrance chart plotter, navigation lights, flare packs and safety equipment, while Ashton Marine Service donated a GPS tracker.
Excel owner Terry Wright said: “We are delighted to support Ally on his Round Britain SIB Challenge attempt which will no doubt be a demanding journey and will test Ally to his limit in some challenging waters, yet I have every faith in his boat and that he will succeed.
“The Vanguard 435 model he has chosen is well suited to challenging conditions and is used by search and rescue teams and rapid response units due its light weight and versatility and composite aluminium deck for added stability, with plenty of room for additional fuel storage and any other equipment necessary for the journey.”