Quirky News

  • 26 November 2012, 12:21

Toy boat to set off on Atlantic crossing

A retired Nato scientist will this week launch his toy boat on what he hopes will be the first unmanned trip across the Atlantic.

Robin Lovelock has spent four years developing a craft which he believes can survive the 6,000 mile journey.

The Snoopy Sloop is only 4ft long, weighs just 30lbs and is held together in parts by bathroom light cord, reports the Daily Telegraph.

But it has already demonstrated its endurance, having completed more than 5,000 miles of almost continuous sailing, on Bray Lake, near Windsor, over seven months.

Now it faces a more testing voyage, battling the seas, and possibly storms, of the North Atlantic, despite being a fraction of the size of shipping which normally makes the winter crossing.

Mr Lovelock, 65, built the boat in the games room of his house in Sunninghill, Berkshire, from off-the-shelf parts scoured from the internet at a cost of less than 450.

The boat will be powered by the wind, but navigated by a solar-powered computer and GPS system.

These will steer the boat on a route along the Channel, then south towards the Azores to catch the trade winds to the Bahamas and onwards to land near where the Pilgrim Fathers came ashore at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Mr Lovelock has been assisted by a group of friends, he has described as his "Last of the Summer Wine" team, including a former veteran of the Robot Wars BBC television show.

"I got hooked about four years ago," he said. "I didn't even play with model boats when I was a boy. I sometimes tinker on the boat in the lounge, but am usually banished to the games room by my wife."

The attempt is being made as part of an international contest, the Microtransat Challenge, to become the first to send an unmanned boat from south of Ireland to the Bahamas.