The Boat

The boat that Mark is using is a modified version of the well proven Rannoch R20, a boat that has been shown to be more than capable of taking on the worlds oceans. Named ‘Square Peg’ it’s not surprising that the boat doesn’t exactly conform to the usual mold.

Whilst training for his row in the Arctic and during the row itself, Mark found that rowing in anything other than flat conditions became less efficient as it was not always possible to get a firm stroke on to the water and wondered if there may be another way of transferring power from the rower to the water.

A couple of ideas were bounced around however, after consultation with world renowned marine architect, Phil Morrison, an idea was settled upon involving a two bladed propeller which was to be powered via a flywheel which in turn would be linked to a simple system similar to that used on a standard rowing machine. This gives the advantage of being able to get constant propulsion regardless of sea conditions and give a greater steering response whilst ensuring that the drive created is always linear to the boat.

It also creates the possibility of running a dynamo off of the flywheel to generate electricity if the solar panels are not providing enough electricity to run the essential systems.

Mark also hopes to be able to install a system on board which will monitor the amount of effort he is putting in to the row so that people at home can be inspired to row along with him and in doing so, generate money for his chosen charities.

Work is currently underway to install this system and Mark hopes to begin sea trials of the system during the summer of 2020.

It is a completely new concept so Mark will also be taking a set of conventional oars with him not only as a back up but as different conditions may favour one method of propulsion over the other.

Unlike boats with two or more crew, there will be substantial periods when Mark needs to rest and leave the boat to drift. Given that there will be shipping in the areas that Mark will be going through, it is fitted with an AIS system which will both alert Mark to the presence of other vessels and their likelihood of running in to him and alert the approaching vessel to his presence. Having crossed the Atlantic many times, sometimes in large seas, Mark knows how easily a small object like Square Peg can be lost amongst the waves, particularly to an approaching vessel he saw it as very important to make himself as visible as possible.

The boat is fitted with a desalinator to turn sea water in to drinking water which Mark will need to re-hydrate the majority of his food as it would be impractical to carry enough hydrated food on board for a 5 month passage.

He will be able to stay in touch with the outside world using a satellite telephone which will also allow him to send and receive regular updates.

At just under 7 meters long, Square Peg will feel like a very small craft in a very big ocean however it will be fully equipped for the journey and have supplies on board able to cope with any eventuality.

Mark will be burning in excess of 6000 calories per day so must take adequate meals and snacks to keep him going whilst keeping weight to an absolute minimum in order to make the boat as ‘quick’ as possible.

In ocean rowing ‘quick’ is a relative term. The only time that anybody has managed to row solo from New York to the UK previously took 123 days for a journey of 3980 nautical miles, averaging a speed of just over 1.3 knots or 2.5 kilometers per hour.

Though Mark is hoping to improve on this figure, he will be at the mercy of Mother Nature who will ultimately be the one dictating just how fast and where he goes.