circumnavigatiOn facts and figures
Mentor cruised at 11 knots at 1,400rpm with two 300hp Ford Mermaid engines, achieving two miles per gallon. We had a generator too, which we’d run for an hour to keep the batteries topped up if we were at anchor. The biggest consumption was our 24V fridge. When it died on us, we realised just how much battery power it had been drawing. Having big water tanks and fuel tanks (2,500lt) gave us a lot of freedom. We refuelled only four times on the voyage and only ever used one tank of water.
Boat owner’s bible
We really liked the practical challenges. Joe’s very electrical minded. His bible was Nigel Calder’s Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual. He read it every night. Whatever went wrong, we could look it up and the book would help us fix it. Often boatyards had waiting times of two weeks or more, so when something broke we learned to fix it ourselves. That was really satisfying.
We went a month without a fridge. This forced us to use tinned provisions more and explore different towns each day, even if they were an hour’s walk away from the anchorage. In the Hebrides we had to think ‘OK, this will be a week – we need longlife milk, tins, and water.’ Some of our regular meals were chilli, spaghetti bolognaise and vegetable curry where we could throw in anything.
We had radar and a Navionics Platinum chartplotter with the latest electronic charts. As well as this, we bought all of the Admiralty folios. It cost about £700 for all the charts and tidal atlases but if we had electrical failure at least we would know where we were. We also bought a new EPIRB. Every morning we’d look at the chart and passage plan for the day, noting hazards and also anchorage options
However good a buyer’s survey is, it’s not until you sail a boat that you realise there are still some surprises. We spent a week bringing Mentor back to life. The bilge pump float switches weren’t working, and the first time we used the toilet the motor packed in. The water pump broke, as did the auxiliary bilge pump, which we took apart and serviced. We also had to replace corroded wiring. The bladder in the water tank was leaking. It held it for a while, then deposited 400 litres of fresh water in the bilges.
Each day Joe called the Coastguard to let them know our passage plan, and to inform them there were two kitesurfers in the water. On our person we each had a PLB and VHF radio. We went through four altogether! They didn’t work well in the swells. Bluetooth headsets were our primary means of communication. It was important that Joe knew where we were at all times. If he was losing sight of us or we were out of range he’d call us to slow down.
Skomer was only one place on the entire voyage that we didn’t have any mobile, VHF or Internet reception. For the rest of the voyage, we used 200GB of mobile broadband a month (£60), using an aerial on Mentor. We needed this to keep our friends, family and sponsors updated on social media. For weather, we used the Windy app most of the trip. All the apps you’d normally use – such as XC Weather or Wind Guru – give you spot weather forecasts but we wanted an overview of whole coastline, and how it would change throughout the day. Because Mentor had a radio Joe would tune in to the shipping forecast, which we’d listen to on our headsets while kiting.
The joys of kiting
When there was good wind we averaged about 50 miles a day, though we’d never kitesurf faster than Mentor. Some days we’d only do five miles and spend a lot of time on the water waiting for the wind to reappear. At the start of the trip we could only manage about three hours’ kitesurfing before we needed to rest, but by the end of the we could comfortably manage eight hours on the water. We’d take breaks and sit on the RIB with Oscar (who joined us for the first month) or Jeremy to have a sandwich. Kiting was never boring. It was always changing. We were on the lookout for dolphins or puffins… and the lighthouses, they