What is BIBOA?

BIBOA Ltd is the UK RIB club for those who like to cruise and socialise in Rigid Inflatable Boats. Read more.


To take part in any BIBOA sea-going event the skipper of the boat must be a paid up BIBOA member and there must be valid 3rd party insurance for the vessel. Non BIBOA Members are very welcome indeed as crew accompanying a BIBOA skipper. 

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Round Ireland world record - in depth

So the record attempt goes like this:

2015, break the round Anglesey world record with local expert Dean Watson guiding me through the Menai Strait’s. Realise that Dean is an extremely practical person with a love of boating and ask him if he is up for the Ireland World Record.

Spend 3 years preparing the boat to be able to:

  1. Get on the plane with the main fuel tank full (363 litres), plus up to 400 litres of additional fuel in deck tanks, and 2 people
  2. Still achieve as close to top speed as possible (51kn)
  3. And not rev over 3750 rpm

That led to 6 separate prop modifications removing radius from the larger duo prop, removing surface area from both and winding up the pitch. This gave an outcome of 45kn fully loaded running at 3700rpm, 51kn at 3750rpm trimmed out, and 35 seconds to get from 2kn to turbo ie. on to the plane (thanks to Tom Bolton - Propeller Solutions and Jeff - Streamlined Propellers)


The only other challenge was cracking an engine mount following a rough sea trial – thanks go to Chris Strickland for giving me a spare stainless steel strengthened mount. Dave Crawford Marine in Lymington duly re-aligned the drive and re-tightened all engine and drive mounts, and everything has been perfect since.

Could we remove some weight:

  1. Install a carbon post to carry the VHF antenna and all round white LED light


  1. Renewed all navigation lights to be LEDs (a must for every boat, they are brilliant)
  2. Fit a new radio supplied by Raymarine with AIS integration to C125 plotter
  3. Buy a new set of offshore flares

Then there was lots of testing… my son Lucas is glad its all done and now we can do some normal trips in the boat rather than filling up talks with water, putting weightlifting weights in the boat, cutting foam, testing seals etc etc.

Then came the challenge of tapping in to the main fuel tank so to avoid any special feed piping, pumps and valves direct to the engine. This was achieved by tapping into the main fuel tank through the sender service hatch by the helm. Then came some sound advice from BIBOA member Neil McGrigor a man with considerable exploration experience… “use gravity, don’t rely on an electric pump”. And with that I embarked on testing, testing and more testing… having borrowed a hard plastic tank and some very expensive flexible tanks from Neil, it became clear my strategy was too intricate and would not get us the flow rate required, so after more time on ebay buying yet more fuel hose, clips, tail ends the final solution was born. One 400 litre plastic tank with one inch tail end from the tank to a manual ball valve to a 16mm fixing in to the tank. It worked a treat… wait till the main tank is half full, then open the deck tank valve, thereby ensuring the fuel in the deck tank does not fill the main tank so full as to push the fuel out of the breather pipe.

Then came the question, how do you secure a 400kg tank without wrecking your boat? I opted for one tether eye secured via a stainless-steel plate through the deck to hold the tank down, then a whole complex bracing system of high density foam padding to stop the tank moving backwards or side to side, and a pad underneath to spread the load on the deck. Duly tested in the Solent by finding the largest wakes possible to see what happened, they worked perfectly after a few alterations. And now having removed the tank, there is not a scratch or any form of damage to the boat.

Then how do you get air in to the tank so it drains quickly but ensure no fuel escapes through the breather… The short story: find a better seal for the lid so it does not leak, one floating baffle made of high density foam to stop the full force of the liquid bashing up against the lid, a small flap of bike inner-tube on the underside of the lid, 2 hose pipe non return valves, then a pipe running to the back of the boat. I am pleased to report that it all worked perfectly, not a drop of fuel escaped and the air flow was sufficient to enable the fuel to flow in to the main tank efficiently. 

Then via multiple meetings and phone calls with BIBOA member Mike Deacon (another man with considerable record breaking experience) I asked all those stupid and not so stupid questions and I certainly benefitted from his wisdom. This included:

-       Make sure you know the course and you have it officially confirmed

-       Tides, charts, plotter, backup plotter, backup VHF, phone, PLB…

-       Know the rules, especially the one about outside assistance

-       Don’t go flat out, one notch back on the throttle will reduce fuel consumption by 10 to 20% and speed by less than 1kn

-       Lobster pots, trailing ropes, have sharp knife, hacksaw and hand saw very handy, plus a safety rope should one of you need to go in the water behind the boat

-       And being very practical; a handy bucket, toilet roll and hand wipes, should either of you get a call of nature

One other point Mike was clear on right from the start, and the reason he and David his son, had never attempted the Ireland World Record was that you had to get the weather exactly right and that would mean having the boat in Ireland and ready to go at 24 hours notice. So really, the people best placed to attempt the record were already in Ireland.

So we waited for the weather and look what happened… possibly the best summer any of us have ever seen. So we were off to Ireland, especially with the weather sites (my favourite being Windfinder) giving us a maximum wave height of 1.3m, and most areas down at 10cm to 40cm.

Following an email and phone calls with Denis Dillon at the Irish Sailing Association, we were definitely ‘on’. Denis could not have been more helpful, total support and an obvious love for all things ‘boat and ‘Ireland’. Then a quick email to Stena Line to follow up on previous correspondence and we are booked on to the Wednesday night ferry (Fishguard to Rosslare) at a significantly discounted rate, thank you Stena Line.

As there is no diesel available at Crookhaven, and not wanting to trailer hundreds of miles with the boat full of 763 litres of fuel, we elected to fill up at a fuel company 30 miles East of Crookhaven. South of Ireland Petrolium (SIP in Skibbereen) were extremely helpful, we owe them 2 pairs of gloves as we forgot to give them back when we left.

Denis put us in touch with a trusted colleague of his Justin Mc Inerney (a previous round Ireland record holder with Team Pulsar Racing), who would be our official timer. Justin and his wife, Antoinette, were exceptionally welcoming. Justin advised on the best roads for trailering, where to stop to avoid the busy slipway times when the sailing school are landing 50 plus dinghy’s in Crookhaven, and where to stop on the main road near his house. At Justin’s kitchen table we reviewed the route and prepared some food for the morning. Denis joined us and measured the boat and together we reviewed all the safety equipment, from PLBs to life raft to flares, VHFs, lifejackets, helmets… Justin helped us store all the equipment and boat covers we would not need, and given the experience of other recent failed attempts, confirmed Dean’s suspicion that we needed to secure the tank with more ratchet straps and padding against the back of the jockey seats. It was lucky we did.

One of the conditions of starting the record attempt, and good practice for any extended cruise; I emailed a passage plan to the 4 main coast guard stations that cover Ireland and talked to one of them to confirm that our intentions were clearly understood and that I had supplied all the information they would like eg; size of boat, type of boat, colour, people aboard, safety equipment onboard, MMSI numbers…  

So the big day arrives:

-       Up at 3am, beautiful clear night, patchy cloud, the stars are bright

-       On the boat for 3.30, call Justin, he is in position

-       Switch ‘track on’ on the plotter, switch the SPOT Tracker on, turn the Garmin watch on and press start, start Strava on my phone (4 ways to prove our track), and radio the Coast Guard to say we are starting the record attempt

-       Round the headland, get on the plane and cross the start line on schedule at 4am

-       Justin on the radio from the top of the cliffs at Mizen Head, “you have crossed the start line, good luck, see you this afternoon, good luck”

-       Sea flat calm we are running at 45kn, have the navigation lights on and Dean is shining a hand light at the shore so Justin can see us clearly

-       Off to a great start, all systems go

-       Round the next headland, bang… we are in to a confused 3m sea. It’s too confused to be able to get on top of it, and we can’t risk hitting it hard for fear of breaking something critical, we zig and zag to see if we can pick up some speed, lengthen the waves and have some softer landings, but it’s not really working, we are down to 25kn

-       Then after an hour, its getting lighter and almost instantly the sea is flat, we switch the video camera on to record the moment. The clouds and the islands are spectacular, and we spot a couple of whales, this is more like it 45kn.

-       5 hours in, another rough part, but we are on top of it at >40kn, on and off the throttle and only occasionally get caught by the odd wave

-       Time for food, only to find our sack of food is more like the contents of a food blender; raspberries, biscuits, cherry tomatoes etc all smashed together, our wraps are just about edible, and a bag of sultanas is intact

-       Pretty much flat calm, running at 46kn 3700 rpm all the way to Port Rush

-       I called Robert Ships the harbour master a few days before to make sure he had fuel and to expect us to arrive in a bit of a hurry. Sure enough, he was there to meet us on the fuel pontoon with a huge smile and a high delivery fuel pump in his hand. We were refuelled and paid up in no time and with Richard’s helper, we made sure the bit we spilt on the deck was cleared up (I usually remember to avoid the high pressure blow back that occurs when filling up with a high delivery pump, but on this occasion the events overtook my available brain capacity…).

-       We top up the steering hydraulic fluid as although the steering is fine, its become a little vague at the wheel, the drive is solid though

-       Thank you and we were off, 36 minutes in front of the current world record

-       2 dolphins saw us out of the harbour, on to the plane, mirror calm, we round Rathlin Island

-       Ireland to starboard, Scotland to Port; Mull of Kintyre, Sanda Island, Alsa Craig, all clearly visible

-       46kn 47kn all the way down the east coast

-       We are slightly celebrating, but we don’t dare say anything, spirits are high

-       I don’t even need to touch the steering wheel or the throttle

-       We are passing Rosslare, still flat calm, over two hours in front of the current record

-       Near Cork, all hell breaks loose, where did that come from, 3m confused sea with waves coming at us from every direction

-       Deck tank is fully drained, so at least we don’t have that to worry about

-       Dean strains his hip, then bashes his knee because the deck on his side has become slippery with what looks like hydraulic fluid, we stop to standstill a few times to assess the damage to his body and then proceed with caution

-       We can’t get any speed without getting hit hard occasionally which is taking its toll on both of us as we have been going for 16 hours

-       We duck behind the headlands, get some speed, then get beaten up as soon as we have to round the next headland

-       We remember to cut outside of all charted land as there are a few very small islands marked in some of the bays

-       We are losing a lot of time, rough calculations show us matching the current record, nooooo!

-       I have the heading line on the plotter set to 12 miles, and can see the length of the line versus Fastnet Rock, which we are to round and then head towards Mizen Head, its three line lengths and we are down to 25kn…that’s an hour and a half, that means we will equal the record

-       Dean moves to sit behind me so he can use his legs efficiently to cushion any impact without slipping

-       All good, we are on top of it now, back up to 35kn, then 40kn, the waves are getting smaller and more regular, as we get to Fastnet Rock, round Fastnet to finish at Mizen Head, torch in hand

-       Justin is on the radio, “congratulations lads, you have done it”

-       We talk gibberish back; a) because our brains are scrambled, b) because we are knackered; that was a tough two and a half hours

-       I radio the Coast Guard to report our safe completion and return to Crookhaven

-       Tie up, bar, Guinness

-       Dump suits, then off to Sailing Club party at the hotel for a fantastic welcome

-       Mark at Barleycove Beach Hotel treats us to dinner (its midnight)

-       Wine, bed

-       Claire at Marconi House accommodation were we were staying runs us up to the hotel for breakfast and once again Mark and his team treat us to a great full Irish breakfast. Brilliant

Wow, we did it. The key to success: planning, preparation, help, weather, and a touch of luck.

Fellow boaters often ask me the question, “what’s the point of being a member of BIBOA” (British Inflatable Boat Owners Association), my answer is; “because you get to meet, socialise, cruise with and gain wisdom from some of the most adventurous well connected seasoned RIB’ers in the world”. I have mentioned a few examples in this report, but for every one of these, there are 1000s of other things I have learnt, all of which increase my levels of safety, opportunity and enjoyment of boating.

Attempting and breaking this record has taught me a few other things about life, boating and Ireland: Denis Dillon, superstar, I started a conversation with Denis over a year ago, and once he knew we were serious for July 13th, he did everything in his power to make it happen. He dropped everything to come down to Crookhaven on a Thursday to assess the boat, as did Justin to arrange storage of the trailer, stow gear, launch the boat, host us for dinner, lunch, dinner, lunch…and they both stood on the cliff top at 4am to start the watch, then watch our SPOT tracker circumnavigate Ireland, only to return to the cliff top 18 hours later. As an extra surprise, Justin called the current world record holder, Philip Fitzgibbon on the Saturday for us to tempt him in to a comeback challenge. I can’t wait to go back to Ireland. 

So after 18 hours flat out, what broke?

-       It looks like one of the hydraulic seals in the helm steering needs replacing as its leaked a small amount of fluid on to the deck

-       The lid on the coolant expansion tank needs replacing as its leaked a small amount of coolant down the inside of the transom

-       The sea water intake filter lid needs reseating as its leaked a little


-       We didn’t break anything

-       Engine oil is still golden in colour

-       The transom has less soot on it than we usually get poodleing down the river Itchen

-       The deck tank did not move a millimetre or mark the boat in any way

Kit appreciation:

-       Raymarine plotter and kit worked perfectly

-       Scorpion hull performed as it usually does… brilliantly

-       Yanmar engine did not even break a sweat (all credit goes to BIBOA member Jon Adlard who rebuilt the engine 6 years ago)

-       IMCO steering, Mercruiser XS leg and cold water gearbox cap all worked perfectly

-       DMS Technology batteries worked perfectly

-       GoPro Fusion 360 camera is amazing

The only things that had any problems were the two warm fleshy things in the boat… us… Dean Watson and Marc Lyne. 

Photos here: http://www.biboa.com/racing/round-ireland-world-record/

Round Ireland in 18 hours and 12 minutes (UIM ratified). We beat the current under 30ft record by 25 minutes.

Now its your turn...

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