HotRIBS - The online RIB Magazine
[ article ]
  # 027
Sirzapped! Page 1/4
Neil Elam, one of our American HotRIBsters, callsign 'sirzap', recollects fond memories of his great achievement in circumnavigating Great Britain.

looking for that perfect location
for the Stars and Stripes

  I'm a lucky man. Having sold my sloop, I paid off the credit card and had enough cash left for a nice down payment for my next boat. This time I wanted a powerboat, something to cruise the waters of the north Carolina coast, my home.

I had been searching the web for the better part of a year looking for the right boat when I began to research the Rigid Inflatable Boat. I knew they are used by the Coast Guard and were carried on ships for emgency purposes, but the thought of cruising in a RIB was new to me. This all changed when I came across a UK web site devoted solely to RIBs. 
"old feelings for the quest of
adventure were alive and kicking"

From that day my future boating aspirations were changed forever. Here I learned that RIBs are the four wheel drives of the sea, rugged boats designed to handle the worst conditions at sea and bring their crew home safe. They are simply the most seaworthy type of powerboat for their size.

This is where I also read of Alan Priddy and his crew's crossing of the north Atlantic from Portsmouth New Hampshire to Portsmouth Hampshire England in 1997. Their boat the "Spirit of Portsmouth" a 7.5 metre Ribtec, was an open boat with a 165 horsepower diesel. Now this was adventure cruising at its best, I must have read and re-read this account a hundred times, I was hooked.

Having worked at Hurricane Island Outward School in Maine as a younger man, old feelings for the quest for an adventure were alive and kicking. I had read that Alan was organizing a Round Britain Rib Raid and I dreamed of being a part of this cruise, sadly it was fully booked.

  After several months of continued reading about RIBs and receiving information from various RIB manufacturers I knew I had to try to get on the Raid. So two weeks before my 45th birthday in April I sent an email to the web site saying that I was dying to be part of the Raid and asked if there was anyone needing crew. John Kennett, who said he would inquire if space was available answered me. He went on to keep in mind that this was to be no holiday, that 200 miles a day in a RIB was hard going.

"Now I had only to tell my wife ...... !"

After sending him another email about my boating experience and assuring him I would bring the proper expedition attitude,
he replied with an invitation to join him on his boat, "Phoenix of Portsmouth". John said I might recognize his boat because he had bought Alan Priddy's "Spirit of Portsmouth", the very same boat that had been used for the north Atlantic crossing.

This was too good to be true; I accepted his offer without a second thought and quickly wired my money to hold my seat. Now I had only to tell my wife!

Well you can imagine her reaction when I informed her that I wanted to go to England and circumnavigate Britain in a 24ft RIB with someone I had met on the Internet.

Being the loving, supportive women she is and gaining the outside verification she required to make sure everything was on the up an up, she gave me her blessing. My birthday wish had come true.

I learned that I would need a drysuit should anything seriously go wrong and we found ourselves in the sea.

The suit would give us several hours in the cold waters before we would succumb to hypothermia. Back to the Internet, searching for a drysuit I found ConcordeAero Sales, the American representative for Multifab Suits. I called their office and spoke with Neil Saint John, who was very keen to what I had planned and offered their support right away
with a suit and extra safety gear.I had also contacted Otter Suits in England via the net and spoke with John Womack Sr., who after hearing of the raid offered to make four drysuits for the entire crew of "Phoenix" to test a new line of suits he wanted to develop.

He lived up to his offer and delivered four suits in a stunning royal blue and gold team colors.