159 Years Between Them - Two Sailors Head for Calais From Putney "Bond Style"

Disproving the old adage "Never teach an old dog new tricks!"

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Chas Newens Marine


Images courtesy of Chris Davies Powerboatpix.com

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Many octogenarians (and others) struggle to understand their TV remote controls, but one pair of seafaring friends is mastering the latest marine electronics for a cross-Channel adventure in a James Bond powerboat.

Geoff Tobert (80) and his younger companion Ray Bulman (79), are scheduled to set off on Thursday (25 June) from Putney Embankment to Calais in a restored 40 year old classic Sovereign powerboat, last used by actor Daniel Craig in the Quantum of Solace Bond movie.

They are re-tracing the route of the famous 1960s Putney-Calais powerboat races in the 17 foot boat, which was built by the company now known as Sunseeker - famed for its luxury motoryachts costing in excess of £15million. They will be assisted by local business Chas Newens Marine, with launching and mooring the boat.

While both men have had many adventures during their years of long-distance powerboat cruising and racing – forty five years ago they drove 1,000 miles in an open runabout boat before the boat exploded while being refuelled during the return journey – this is the first time they will be using state-of-the-art electronics to aid them in their journey.

Supplied by Portsmouth-based Raymarine, a worldwide manufacturer of marine electronics, which also traces its pedigree back to the 1970s with the development of the first autopilot for sailboats in 1973; the electronics will give the pair a‘third pair of eyes’ – enabling them to use AIS tracking to ’see’ individual vessels as they cross the busy shipping lanes, to set up routes and waypoints to keep them on track, and also show their speed – to ensure they do not break the speed limits along the River Thames.

Ray says: “While Geoff and I are old hands at actually steering the boat, it’s true our eyes aren’t what they used to be. The Raymarine electronics show us large bright coloured details that we’d struggle to see from the paper charts or visually on the crossing. The Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, so we need as much assistance from the latest electronics as possible.”

The chartplotter will show the exact distance travelled, working out the effect of tides and weather during the 10-hour crossing. This precise information is vital as the pair will also have to re-fuel the boat during the crossing, and to maintain contact with their support boat. Geoff concludes: “I’ve found the chartplotter easier to use than my TV’s digi box at home – so much so that I’ve already entered a waypoint at our destination called “Champagne at Calais”. That should entice us to get there!”

June 26, 2009