Epic Boat Trips Part Two

In part one, we had a look at some of the most challenging and epic trips around the world. In part two, we’re taking a look at epic trips across the Atlantic as well as some smaller epic boat trips.

Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo (1896)

Originally born in Norway, Frank Samuelsen (1870-1946) and George Harbo (1864-1909) were both in the U.S. Merchant Marine, a fleet of ships which carried supplies to troops during peacetime and also supplied troops in times of active combat.

The impetus for their voyage across the Atlantic for a very long time was considered to be an alleged $10,000 prize offered by wealthy Irish-American publisher Richard Kyle Fox of National Police Gazette, a popular magazine at the time, known for his Guinness World Records-type challenges. Going by this story, bolstered by the promise of instant wealth, the two mariners plowed their savings into a new oak rowboat, built with water-resistant cedar sheathing with a couple of watertight flotation compartments and two rowing benches.

We now have reason to believe there was likely no actual $10,000 prize offer to begin with or if the men were motivated by money at all - but regardless of the origins of the attempt, on June 6, 1896, the two sailors set out from The Battery in New York and arrived on the Isles of Scilly, just off the Cornish coast, on July 31st.

Sir Richard Branson (1986)

British entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson has never been known to be one who shies away from adventure.

That began in 1985, when Branson decided to attempt to break the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing in the Virgin Atlantic Challenger. Following the classic route charted by Samuelsen and Harbo, the journey went well until Branson and his team hit turbulent waters - the vessel ultimately sinking off Land’s End. 

The Virgin Atlantic Challenger II sinking off Land's End

At a point where most people would have given up, Branson announced a year later that he would be reattempting the Atlantic crossing with the aptly named Virgin Atlantic Challenger II, this time to coincide with the launch of his Virgin Atlantic airline.

Setting out from New York once again on June 26 with sailing expert Daniel McCarthy, they successfully completed the crossing, arriving across the finish line in three days, eight hours and 31 minutes.

Following the epic trip, the ship was sold to a Middle Eastern sheikh and never seen again - that was until 2015 when Merchant Navy officer Dan Stevens spotted the ship in Mallorca and bought it to restore back in the UK. Prior to selling it for £725,000, members of the original Challenger including Branson himself reassembled aboard the record-breaking vessel one last time.

Branson would go to get involved in a number of record attempts and challenges - including another attempt at crossing the Atlantic in 2008, this time with his children!

Artemis Investments (2010)

No one had been beaten the record set by Samuelsen and Harbo - until a team of four sailors decided to take on this epic trip.

Backed by investment firm Artemis, a team composed of skipper Leven Brown from Edinburgh, Ray Carroll from Galway in the Republic of Ireland, Don Lennox from Lanarkshire and Livar Nysted from the Faroe Islands ventured to see if they could beat the then-114 year-old record - right down to the exact departure and arrival points.

Following a failed start at the beginning of June 2010 due to a broken rudder, the team set out again from New York on June 17th, just as Harbo and Samuelsen had done, setting out for the Isles of Scilly.

Their trip was not without its memorable moments - at one point, the crew had to battle 33ft-high (10m) waves, encountered a number of whales and even found time in their voyage to rescue a man overboard - or its difficulties including confined living conditions and running out of food less than two weeks into the trip but on July 31st, 2010, the team of four pulled into St Mary’s, Isle of Scilly to a rapturous welcome:

 

 

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