In December 2021, two friends (John-Kenneth D Habbershaw and Courtney W Hollyoake) will set sail on a 3,000 mile journey across the Atlantic in a 17ft Leisure sailing boat in aid of charity.The journey will be an unassisted voyage from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean in a boat that should average roughly 3.5 knots and take 30-35 days, (weather depending). John-Kenneth is the skipper between the two friends of 20 years and has had an interest in sailing from when he was just a boy. A marine surveyor and marine electrician by trade, John-Kenneth has worked with Ocean Rowing Boat solo's and teams, some of which have gone on to set new race/world records. The other half of the daring crew, Courtney, works for the NHS in Stoke-on-Trent (soon to be transferring his skills to Macmillan Cancer Support) and has no sailing experience. He is, however, ready to throw himself into training to become at least 'RYA Day Skipper' so that he can be a competent watchkeeper standard between now and their departure.
To support and help them raise their £50k target click here.
‘Poppet’ is an early MK1 ‘Leisure 17’ made from fibreglass by Cobramould in Essex, the boat is approximately 50 years old.
Poppet measures just 17ft (5.2m) long – that’s smaller than a Ford Transit van. Fully provisioned the boat will weigh about half of a large family car.
"We didn't want it to be easy, as any competent sailor could buy a suitable boat and sail it across. we wanted it to be extra challenging so that we could do some fundraising for some great charities."
A German sailor ‘John Adam’ sailed his L17 ‘Eve’ across the Atlantic in the late 1960s. He was briefly imprisoned in Cuba on suspicion of being a spy.
There will be plenty of challenges from start to finish for the pair. The largest waves can measure up to 20-40ft, which is higher than the top of boat mast (20ft). At its deepest, the Atlantic Ocean is 5.28 miles (8.5km) deep. There will be no toilet on board, the crew will have to use their trusty bucket.
John had done a lot of sailing over the last decade but admitted nothing of this calibre.
"I’ve been sailing off the east coast and people say the North Sea is one of the worst areas in the world to sail in.
“Over the next 18 months we are hoping to get a lot of sailing in and time in different conditions and build up a lot of hours on the water.
“We hope to have an offshore practice cruise to Holland and back.
“The biggest challenge for me will be the space and just living in such close contact with one another.
“Our food will be pretty much dehydrated ration packs, so the diet is going to get quite boring.
“The weather is a big concern, though I have been watching the wind speeds and wave heights for the last four or five years. We are likely to encounter a couple of storms but it is the best time of year to go.”
John-Kenneth has chosen: MacMillan Cancer Support which has assisted his family, another family member suffers from Multiple Sclerosis so MS-UK was a natural choice and St Helena Hospice, which is based in his present hometown of Colchester.
Courtney has chosen MIND, which helps people with mental health problems across the UK. Mental health is a growing issue in the United Kingdom in particular and one in four of us is likely to experience a mental health issue in our lifetimes.
The duo have begun their fundraising, which in the future will include a 24-hour liferaft endurance challenge, a tour with Poppet, and a gala dinner. They decided from the start to keep the charity fundraising and boat sponsorship separate. Both are trying to self-fund the voyage and its logistics via their own investment, sponsorship and provision of essential equipment loaned/donated by marine manufacturers/suppliers, and sponsored corporate stickers to be placed on the boat hull.
To find out more and how to donate visit www.sofatosailboat.co.uk/donate