Why did you choose to participate in the 2022 Golden Globe Race?
This marks my seventh circumnavigation of the world. Having successfully completed eight journeys through the Northwest Passage and three expeditions to Antarctica, I believe this will be my final venture of this nature.
Have you ever sailed Tim Pippin before?
No, the only time I have sailed this boat was from Copenhagen to the Tyne, then I took it out of the water and have been working on it since.
What preparations have you undertaken on the boat to ensure it is race-ready?
I have significantly reinforced the boat, replacing all fittings with new ones, installing a new shaft, and fitting a new sail. The boat's readiness is not solely dependent on the original builders' work; instead, it relies on the enhancements I've made and basically it has been rebuilt to a much stronger standard. I am well-acquainted with the precise location of every component, and the work performed meets a high standard of quality.
I've incorporated a new feature in the boat by creating a hole for the new mast. A keel stepped mast offers enhanced safety, as the mast is more secure in the event of a wire failure or similar issues. Placing the mast in the hole I've designed provides significantly better support, minimising the risk of losing the entire mast overboard instantly.
All the hatches have been taken off and refurbished, I have welded stainless steel plates to a lot of the boat to reinforce the strength, these plates will hold around 3 tons. These are only small changes, but they are a massive benefit.
All the exterior wood is teak, and I will oil it rather than varnish, this has already had three coats of teak oil but because the wood is so dry it soaks everything up, I reckon it will take 6 coats or more.
In the cabin, I've applied Teamac Galley Paint, specifically designed to insulate surfaces within the lockers. This application serves to prevent any sweating or condensation, particularly crucial for this fiberglass boat, which is prone to such issues.
The fuel tank has all been taken out and cleaned, with new pipe work. The engine has also been taken out and cleaned and re-built. I have used wax oil on the engine, so water doesn’t get anywhere near it.
You mentioned opting for oil over varnish. Could you elaborate on the reason for this choice?
I prefer using oil because, in the event of damage and moisture penetration, varnish tends to peel off. Oil, on the other hand, does not exhibit this issue, providing a more resilient and long-lasting protective finish.
What do you like most about using Teamac Marine Coatings?
I value Teamac Marine Coatings for being excellent paint; it has consistently met my expectations and has never let me down. Additionally, the family who owns the business has been exceptionally generous and supportive. I've used Teamac Marine Coatings on all my boats, whether ocean-bound or polar-bound, and it has consistently proven its reliability.
This being your first experience sailing a fiberglass boat, how do you anticipate it will compare to your previous experiences?
While fibreglass may not match the strength of aluminium, I believe the boat will still provide a safe sailing experience. Extensive efforts have been made to reinforce its structure beyond the original specifications. Manufacturers often aim to keep costs down to make the boat affordable, which sometimes means they do the minimum required. However, considerable work has gone into strengthening this fibreglass boat to ensure its safety and durability.
What do you enjoy most about sailing?
I enjoy the preparation, all this work I have done, I want to test it and see if all my ideas were correct and how I could improve on it.
Do you experience fear when sailing solo?
There's hardly any time for fear; you're constantly moving around the boat, checking for potential issues or areas under significant stress. Through various experiences, much like seasoned climbers, you learn what to expect and how to handle different situations. If a storm is manageable, say around 40 or 50 knots, it's acceptable. However, when faced with extremely severe conditions, such as 80 to 90 knots, that's when fear becomes a factor, especially when you're in survival mode.
How frequently do rough sea conditions occur?
Due to shifting climate conditions, rough seas are now quite common, and I've observed a significant difference. Around 50 years ago, storms rarely exceeded 40-45 knots, but nowadays, storms with speeds reaching 70 or 80 knots are more prevalent.
What do you do when you encounter storms while sailing?
I lower all the sails, retreat inside the boat, close the hatches, and let the boat manage itself. I selected this boat for its expansive deck, unlike a coach roof with a narrow deck. The large deck of this boat provides a greater sense of control to handle breaking waves on board. Additionally, I've installed new port holes made of polycarbonate, ensuring robust and unbreakable glass, securely fastened from the inside.
How do you manage your own company, not having anyone to speak to for 7 months?
When I did my first transatlantic race in 1974, which was with a similar-sized boat and took about 45 days to complete, the experience of hearing my own voice again upon reaching America was quite peculiar. However, that sensation hasn't recurred since. It's akin to seasickness—I used to suffer from it, but sailing singlehandedly, I had to push through it and eventually outgrew it. Similarly, I believe the solitude at sea has become a familiar part of my routine. Now, I can be away for an extended period, and upon return, I can seamlessly transition back to office work.
At sea, I never feel lonely. The presence of birds flying around, marine life, the ever-changing weather patterns, navigation considerations, sail adjustments, and even reading a book keep me engaged. There's always something to do, fostering a sense of fulfilment and preventing any feelings of loneliness.
You must encounter some incredible wildlife during your voyages across the globe.
Indeed, I do, and I've captured some remarkable photographs.