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Unlikely vessels to do Atlantic trips

Jan 1, 2003

Speaking of unusual ocean passages, two attempts to cross the Atlantic are being made this summer aboard craft not ordinarily suited for such rigorous endeavors.

Four British adventurers set out from Portsmouth, N.H., on June 22 aboard a rigid-hulled inflatable boat bound for Portsmouth, England, via Nova Scotia, Greenland, Iceland, and Ireland. The 27-foot Spirit of Portsmouth, powered by a 175-hp Yamaha turbo diesel engine, was capable of speeds up to 30 knots.

"Everything went very well," said Brian Pilcher, a spokesman for the group. "At one point they encountered an iceberg in the Labrador Sea that they were thinking of climbing onto and putting up a flag, but it exploded and rolled over before they could, so they decided to give ice a bit more respect." (Experts say climbing on icebergs is very dangerous.)

Spirit of Portsmouth arrived in Great Britain on July 14.

The rivalry to sail the smallest boat ever across the Atlantic continues as British sailor Tom McNally is threatening to put to sea again. McNally has made several Atlantic crossings in small boats, but his current craft, which he will sail from Gibraltar to New York this summer, measures three feet, 10 inches. Hugo Vihlen holds the record for his 1993 crossing in a boat five feet, four inches long.


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