At 13.53.34 GMT Friday 28 th October 2005 Adrian Flanagan crossed the WSSRC official starting line in the Solent and headed Eastwards, past the Isle of Wight and out into the Channel, on his solo vertical global circumnavigation.
A large crowd gathered to wish Adrian well at the start of his epic voyage. The pontoon to which Barrabas was moored was packed with news media and the general public. Many others were there to waive him farewell from the shore and from boats in the marina and the Solent.
During the refit and the Solent trials, Adrian and Barrabas made many new friends. Those who knew what the objective would be followed his progress with great interest. Close to his departure date, on Sunday 16th October, Adrian had the pleasure of taking Radio 2 DJ, Johnnie Walker and his lovely wife, Tiggy sailing in the Solent for the afternoon. Also on board was Matt Atkins of Kemp Sails, one of the expedition sponsors, which was just as well as conditions became pretty difficult with deteriorating weather.
Adrian had spent the summer of 2005 carefully checking every inch of his boat. Many items that would have given seasons of use in normal conditions were replaced. Some equipment was replaced because greater strength would be required to provide the life margin in the Arctic. Now, with the departure date looming ever closer, Adrian was ready to begin trials in the waters around the Isle of Wight to accustom himself to new equipment, thoroughly testing all repairs and modifications, and practicing drills for all of the emergencies that he might encounter far from home and safe haven.
The solo sailor spends much of the time on deck or in the cockpit. The broad uncluttered deck space of Barrabas was changed almost as much as the below deck spaces. In addition to a liferaft, Adrian also carried on deck a rigid boat that could be sailed or rowed and was equipped with special rations and supplies for escape in the event of Barrabas sinking or becoming trapped in the ice. Once into the Arctic waters of the Russian Northern Sea route survival without such equipment is counted in minutes.
Barrabas was designed to provide safe and comfortable cruising. Adrian had to add a considerable amount of stores and equipment to the internal spaces. Starting out on the voyage, there was little remaining space with fuel cans lashed in the accomodation and a mountain of material swallowed by the broad saloon and fore cabin. As the voyage progressed and food consumed, more space was created but many items, such as the fuel, just left empty containers that took as much space as when full.
The polycarbonate spray screen ahead of the helm position had discoloured and showed some signs of cracking. The screen is a vital piece of equipment, giving some protection to the helmsman in wild weather as spray flies towards the helm like grapeshot. However, it is also vital that it provides a clear view ahead. Adrian removed the old screen, cutting and shaping a new screen from a perspex sheet, to be fitted to Barrabas.