Mission Ocean will be setting sail from Cannes in June 2017, to promote clean seas and take part in some exciting research projects. But in order to negotiate the high seas, you need a trusty vessel…
The last four months of our lives have been pretty much devoted to scouring boat ads, roaming around yards across Europe, and twisting ourselves into impossible shapes to inspect every last corner of countless catamarans, in the search for the perfect boat for our project.
We are almost there – negotiations are well along the way for a 47’ catamaran from 1994. She’s in a pretty poor state of repair, but as we have plenty of refit experience – and lots of excellent friends and partner companies to count on – neither of us are scared of a challenge, and we hope to be able to introduce you to her very soon… And if that one doesn’t work out, we’ve got plans B and C up our sleeves. Neither of us were scouts, but that doesn’t stop us from being prepared!
So why didn’t we just jump on the first decent boat we saw, cast off the lines and head for the horizon?
Mission Ocean’s objective is to circumnavigate the globe on our catamaran, hosting scientific groups, students and charities on board to carry out research projects with us. Each expedition will last 14 days, with up to 8 researchers joining us at a time. Our focus will be on pollution, and the photos, videos and observations taken during these projects will be used in schools across the world, to explain why we should all be interested in sharks, what plankton does, or how single-use plastics are affecting the planet.
In order to achieve these goals, we need space – at least three or four cabins, a minimum of two heads, a decent galley, sufficient power, and somewhere for everyone to work. Many of the groups who have contacted us are interested in diving from the boat (as are we!) so we will need a compressor and bottles; we also plan to have a laboratory on board, containing equipment to help us take and analyse samples, and we have been approached by UNESCO to transport and drop buoys to collect data for them. We quickly learnt that not all catamarans are created equal; some are built for speed and agility, whilst others are more suited to bearing these sorts of loads.
And not forgetting that the boat will also be our home for the duration of the project, so we need to feel comfortable and safe on board. That’s why we’ve been leaving no ceiling panel unturned, and no locker unexplored. We’ve had some great tips from surveyors – such as closing our eyes and running our hands over the hull to feel for bumps or cracks that might be invisible to the naked eye. Ah yes, and Henrique is 1m88 tall, so it’s been a challenge finding a boat that he can actually stand up in!
While our search has seen us crawling into the dirtiest, darkest corners of several dozen second hand boats, and braving howling gales, lashing rain, horribly delayed flights and stormy overnight ferries, it has also taken us to some of Europe’s most spectacular sailing destinations, and has only served to fuel our enthusiasm to get going. We have come away from every visit, our heads spinning with ideas:
“The starboard hull was perfect for a workshop!”
“What if we built a hardtop over cockpit? Imagine how many solar panels we could have!”
We’ve lost count of the number of evenings spent dreaming like this, over bowls of steaming Provençal fish soup, Portuguese squid and Corsica stews.
Now we are into the less magical stage of legal advice, contracts, surveys and refit budgets. As I’m sure you can imagine, a project like this doesn’t come cheap, and a wall of Excel spreadsheets is starting to rise between us and our dream.
But there are doodles of sunsets, divers and that hardtop and solar panels in the corner of each one...
About Mission Ocean
Mission Ocean is the brainchild of Laura Beard and Henrique Agostinho, a dynamic couple who met while working in the yachting industry and discovered a shared passion to promote clean oceans. Read how it all began and what they hope to achieve: Introducing Mission Ocean and you can follow them on their Facbook page via the logo below.