I think this could be quite a long one – apologies in advance.
The nutshell is that I’ve been asked to provide a safety boat cover to a work friend who wants to cross the Irish Sea in a man powered craft; this will be a a charity event which I expect may attract some press attention. I can’t yet say much about the craft itself, but the bloke himself has an impeccable track record in ‘extreme / ultra’ events, and so in some ways he’s the least of my worries.
But one key issue is that he’ll only be capable of averaging around 2 kts.
He is also thinking in terms of the ‘longer route’ from e.g. Anglesey to Dun Laoghaire (as per the sea kayakers) or perhaps Morfa Nefyn to Wicklow – we’re all still studying charts etc. So this will easily involve a night phase.
I’ve already told the guy that that I think we should aim for two RIBs in support, but I’ll be honest and say that I’m beginning to feel attracted to do this ‘solo’ if necessary; I’m in that once-in-a-lifetime thinking mode. Please feel free to tell me I’m bonkers thinking about doing this in a 5.45m boat; all replies will be carefully considered, but might be ignored ;-).
Clearly we’d need a very
settled weather window, with nil headwind / ideally a light easterly tailwind (for him). It can be done – read how lucky these guys were with the sea states: (we’ve recently also spoken directly to one of them).
IRISH SEA CROSSING
The plan would be to leave my friend (with his craft) over there in Ireland (he will have land support) and return at ‘normal’ speed in the RIB.
At the minute, I’m making upgrades to my RIB, including a better radar reflector, searchlight and decent hailer / fog horn. I already have a DSC radio, VHF hand-helds, Garmin plotter (with all necessary charts), hand-held GPS, decent drysuits and LJs (with lights), nav lights, flares, paper charts, etc. We’re also in the middle of fairly formal risk assessments. But with only a 20 gal internal tank, jerry cans will be required. I’ve used these successfully before, but I’ll need a few more actual cans!
I am also planning on having 3 (total) crew in the RIB – subject to certain dates the two others are already known – with a decent mix of rough weather, fog and night experience. One to rest, one to drive, and one to keep watch etc, all in rotation. Thoughts on having 3 crew duly welcomed.
We’ve got a 'serious' shakedown planned currently for the last week in June. Going for real maybe as early as July if all is well.
Here’s some of the points I’m not certain about – as far as possible we’ll assess these at shakedown time. However, again any thoughts would be welcomed.
Does anyone want to come with us? – either one or both ways – else perhaps could help with berthing / fuel / etc on the Irish side? (I guess the worst case would involve me leaving the RIB and taking a ferry back to Wales to get the trailer!).
At 2 kts would I be better using the aux (Suzuki DT4) engine? I think I would jury-rig remote steering for this via the main engine.
How best to rig a second battery if I’m going to use it to power the electrics (lights, nav and comms) when only the aux engine is running? Nightmare scenario would be to drain the main battery (110 Ah, new last year).
Otherwise the main DF90 is going to be at or close to tickover. Will the DF90’s alternator charge ok at tickover? (I’m assuming a 4.5A drain otherwise - tbc). Do bigger engines respond ok to long periods at idle? What fuel consumption should I expect on the DF90 at 2kts?