Circumnavigation & Ocean Passagemaking - (Astra's Voyage Around the Southern Oceans)
A rare insight into the preparations for and completion of ASTRA’s unique circumnavigation via all of the Capes in the Southern Hemisphere in 2022.
Meticulous. That is the word that is most often used to describe the years of preparation for this unique circumnavigation on a 24m motorboat.
ASTRA was not any ordinary motorboat, yet she still required substantial work to prepare her for the trip while considering every aspect of redundancy that might be needed to take on the Southern Oceans. Every risk was considered from every aspect and each potential eventuality was considered and properly planned for. While the voyage had its challenges, generally most were anticipated. However, those that needed quick thinking or a bit of creative thinking probably created some of the best learning experiences.
Many of us go through life holding on to a dream, whether that’s for a new car, a new home or to go up Everest! A quietly held dream, from my early teens, was to sail around the world. However, not to saunter around it, but to do it at some kind of pace.
In 1999 after 13 years at sea, I came ashore and, to be honest, the next 10 years were blurred by the pressures of growing a business in a very challenging decade.
By 2013 business was settling and Kat and I were 5 years into first merging with and then, in 2012, buying Witherbys. Those closest to us at that time will no doubt recognise that we were often putting a brave face on things. As Kat has often described, we were like swans at that time – intending to appear outwardly serene to the rest of the world, while paddling like merry hell below the waterline to keep things going.
By 2013 we felt that we had started to get more of a grip on life and were beginning to manage it, rather than it managing us. We were happy to see our children, Calum, Caitlin and Abigail, in the most appropriate schools and we had just taken the decision to move to Aviemore as our primary home. In the Summer of 2013, I decided to get back onto the water and went sailing in Turkey for 2 weeks with my dear friend and business partner, Johan Machtelinckx.
At the age of 42, I quietly wondered to myself if I could build on this sailing experience to get to the point of crossing an ocean single handed, but balancing the next 3 years’ work with boating/sailing and taking into account Kat’s absolute dislike of small spaces below decks, I re-evaluated my boating ambitions. In 2016, I decided that a motorboat in the 40–55 ft range would be a good next step and would have a number of important uses to our business, allowing the installation and testing of equipment and a chance for seagoing staff to maintain certification and training.
Like many things in life, you come back from time to time to revisit your goals and either reassess how to achieve them or adjust your target. This combination of motor boating and my upbringing around capable sea boats fishing from the Isle of Barra triggered a re-evaluation of my dream to sail around the world and the type of boat to do it in.
I now seriously wondered if it could be done in a small motorboat. Selecting a vessel <24 m would keep it a proposition open to all boaters rather than fully certified seafarers, so that seemed to be the size limit I should work within. Testing to the limit the sort of equipment not usually found on such a size of boat (but that should be) would provide a lot of interesting data for the day job as well.
However, when I looked at a circumnavigation, which would involve starting and finishing from the same location and crossing all 360° of longitude at a minimum distance of 21,600 NM, such a trip would require a very special boat indeed!
I had never sailed around Cape Horn and, when I considered taking my own boat, it seemed natural to build that rounding into a circumnavigation. Realising that this really was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I decided I should take no short-cuts or easy routes and so set myself the challenge of passing south of every Cape in the Southern Hemisphere.
It was only after I had mapped out what the challenge actually looked like that I discovered that a circumnavigation via all of the Capes in the Southern Hemisphere had never been undertaken or considered in a motorboat before!
The previous fastest circumnavigation recorded by a full displacement motorboat was by a Nordhavn in 2002, which took the more benign equatorial waters on the route via the Suez and Panama Canals, a distance of 24,000 miles in 170 days at sea.
ASTRA is possibly the toughest <24 m motorboat in the world and the only vessel I identified in 4 years of searching that could even attempt the challenge of taking on a ‘world first’ circumnavigation via all of the Capes in the Southern Hemisphere.
ASTRA was true, strong and faithful, for each of those 31,538 NM, in some of the most challenging conditions at sea!
This is our story.
Iain G. Macneil DUNIV MNM
Skipper, MV ASTRA
Lanzarote, December 2022
Part One – Finding, Refitting and Preparing the Boat for a Circumnavigation
1 Why a Circumnavigation
2 The Prototype Boat
3 The Spec for an Ocean Capable 24 m Motorboat
4 Finding the Right Boat
5 The Refit Spec
6 Managing the Repair Periods
7 Navigational Bridge
9 North Atlantic Sea Trials
10 Fuel Storage, Monitoring and Endurance
11 Managing Stores and Provisions
12 Spare Parts Carried
13 Seaworthiness and Ship Stability
14 Risk Assessment and Insurance
15 Redundancy of Key Systems and Backup
16 Shore-Based Support Network
17 Crew (Selection, Rota and Routine)
18 Final Preparations for Departure
19 Farewell Party and Departure Day
20 Initial Route Selection
21 Port Papers
22 Tips and Practices
23 What Did We Really Get Right?
RTW 001 Lanzarote to Saint Helena
RTW 002 Saint Helena to Montevideo
RTW 003 Montevideo to Ushuaia
RTW 004 Ushuaia to Valparaiso
RTW 005 Valparaiso to Tahiti
- Number of Pages:
- Published Date:
- May 2023
- Book Height:
- 300 mm
- Book Width:
- 210 mm
Iain G. Macneil
- 2 kg
- Publication Date:
- May 2023