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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Exhibition Content Developer

    £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in South Kensington, this prestigi...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - major leisure brand

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Partner

    £25000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Partner is required to ...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003