Phileas Fogg on autopilot

For pounds 18,500, you can bounce around the world, writes James Fergus son

"The final great challenge of the sea," the blurb on the mailshot calls it - "a once in a lifetime opportunity for the sea lover and adventurer who wants to join a unique world record attempt." A company called Transoceanic Adventures Limited, based in Hampshire, is offering a dozen places on its Cable and Wireless-sponsored speedboat with the aim of circumnavigating the globe in less than 80 days.

All very Jules Verne, except that each place on the boat will cost the successful applicant pounds 18,500. For about the same price, and in considerably greater comfort, you could do the same trip on the QE2. You might even have time for a proper look around the ports of call. The Cable and Wireless crew won't be stopping anywhere for longer than 48 hours.

However, Transoceanic reports that some 300 hopefuls have applied, including a mother of four who has told them she is prepared to re-mortgage the house in order to pay for the ticket. "A lot of people have this Everest in their minds," says Damian Byrne, the project's technical co-ordinator. "They want to sit in a rocking chair at 65 and be able to say, 'I did that'."

But is sitting in an 80ft motorboat for a couple of months really an Everest of the mind? This isn't sailing, after all. There'll be no reason for the crew ever to get wet, even. Once the autopilot has been set in the right direction, what are all these people going to do?

"There'll be plenty," says Byrne. "Cooking duties and engine maintenance and weather and sea temperature-monitoring. There will be a cameraman on board, too, and an editing suite." Phileas Fogg it ain't. And at pounds 231.50 a day the experience certainly won't come cheap.

Yet the Cable and Wireless boat doesn't need a crew of 16 at all. Four people could do the job just as well. The rest,as the organisers cheerfully admit, are there because of their wallets.

The market for this kind of trip is big; many are inspired by the yachtsman Chay Blythe. His annual round-the-world yacht race is crewed entirely by members of the public, who pay about pounds 15,000 each for the experience. When Blythe first proposed this scheme, the yachting fraternity laughed its head off. These days, his race is regularly oversubscribed by a factor of 10, and there are many others. Robin Knox-Johnson, for example, is currently on the homeward leg of a round-the-world sail with nine yachts whose owners have paid for the privilege of travelling in the safety of a group.

"Are we all frustrated Christopher Columbuses? Do people lead such boring lives? I've asked myself these questions a lot," says Damian Byrne. The Cable and Wireless project is led by Jock Wishart, who last year led 10 fee-payers 400 miles across the Arctic to the North Pole - the first ever polarised walk to be televised.

This October, Wishart will compete in the first ever transatlantic rowing race from Tenerife to Barbados, a distance of 3,000 miles. Now that's a real adventure. At least his round-the-world crew will get to listen to his stories when they embark next April n

Transoceanic Adventures Ltd 01794 368997

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before