Meeting and Greeting

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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.

Final Testing


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 Working Space


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.

Comforts of Home

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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.

Clear View Ahead

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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.

Turning the Screw

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During the refit, the screw was removed and the propeller shaft withdrawn for inspection. The shaft showed signs of corrosion and Adrian decided to have a new shaft manufactured. This was an unsatisfactory situation because the company tasked with the work produced a shaft that was bent and were reluctant to correct the problem. The shaft new shaft was straightened and fitted into new cutless bearings. At a critical stage in the voyage, Adrian discovered the hard way that the bend was not the only defect in manufacture.

Bare Bones


Barrabas was hand built over a six year period. The hull, deck and even the mast were built using titanium stainless steel which produced a vessel of great strength but also made for a much heavier yacht than a similar design built in ordinary steel or glass reinforced plastic. The increased weight means that Barrabas is inevitably slower and cannot run as close to wind as yachts of a similar size. This adds to teh duration of the voyage but is a small price to pay in return for the enormous increase in durability in some of the most hostile waters in the world.

Eyes Everywhere

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Barrabas needed additional eyes welded to key parts of the deck and hull. These would provide fixing points for all the additional equipment and spares needed on this long and dangerous voyage. In particular, additional fixings were needed for life lines and other essential safety equipment on deck. Welding titanium stainless steel requires special skills.

Using the Wind and the Sun


Aft of the helm, a solar cell panel was installed to contribute to the electrical generation and save valuable diesel. The limited size of Barrabas meant that diesel in the tanks and in a collection of 20l jerrycans had to be carefully husbanded for the time in the ice when the engine had to be run because of the need to maneuver amongst ice floes.


Wind would be used to power the vessel as much as possible, again to conserve the engine for essential use.


Wind would drive a generator to help in conserving diesel fuel.

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Wind would also power the Hydrovane self-steering system that is a vital aid to the solo sailor. It is only with the help of this tool that the sailor can leave the helm to attend to other tasks and to grab some sleep.