Polar Bound’s refit has been forensic. Cowper leads me down the double-dogged forehatch in the forepeak, where shelves of plastic boxes contain everything he will need on a voyage he says will last one, maybe two – who knows – three years? A vicious-looking old wooden-handled RNLI boathook rests against the hull, a relic from the Watson, used for cutting weed off clogged propellers.
Watertight bulkheads separate this from the engine room and bow compartment. The space is immensely strong. This is the second line of defence, the first being a stem, already super-strong, further protected by a sharp, hefty strip of aluminium.
Every seacock and valve is accessible; every one has been dismantled and greased. Cowper has a tool for everything. A Dickinson Bering stove in the saloon, insulated with one tonne of rock wool, has been nickel-plated. “I hate rust,” he says with a passion you might express about mice in the rafters.
Meticulous planning underpins everything he does. The 18mm toughened glass wheelhouse windows, as fitted to RNLI lifeboats, and 10mm polycarbonate side windows – Polar Bound is self-righting – have been removed and rebedded; the wipers – “very poor, all mixtures of metals” – dismantled and rebuilt.
Meticulous, but frugal. The man himself is spare. The shower looks unused. “Clean people don’t need a shower,” he says, apparently quite seriously, although I can’t be sure.
Yet expense is not spared on the essentials. The air-damped wheelhouse seat was bought cheaply off a police boat. Polar Bound carries £20,000 worth of diesel, much of which he intends to buy in Greenland “where it’s subsidised”.
The record-breaking Huisman-built 41ft sloop Ocean Bound