Around Britain in an Electric Boat
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Around Britain in an Electric Boat

A Wellington School Sixth Form student, Harry Besley, is committed to demonstrating the potential of electric engines, so will be attempting to drive around Britain in an electric boat this summer. This is under the auspices of the Round Britain eRIB Challenge which has been set up to encourage the marine industry to a more sustainable future.

Harry’s passion for boats started at a young age with a 5hp bath tub boat. A rib with an unreliable engine prompted him to start fixing engines. He is currently in the Navy Section of the CCF at school.

Wellington student Harry Besley, 16, will attempt the fastest circumnavigation on Britain in and electric boat
Wellington student Harry Besley, 16, will attempt the fastest circumnavigation on Britain in and electric boat

‘I was fed up with going out in boats and knowing that we are causing harm to the environment, I knew that there would be a solution and I just need to find it. I did some research and found that there were electric motors but I didn’t know why people weren’t using them instead of petrol engines. I realised there wasn’t the charging infrastructure and awareness for these motors to actually be a viable solution. Hence the Round Britain eRIB Challenge which encourages locations around the UK install charging infrastructure and demonstrates the capabilities of electric boats,’ commented Harry.
  
The route will circumnavigate Britain starting west along the south coast, north past Wales and across to Northern Ireland, through the Caledonian Canal then south down the east of Scotland and England and back to the south coast. There will more then 40 charging stops on route, and as the UK marine charging infrastructure in still in its early days these stops will demonstrate a wide range of potential charging solutions.

Harry added, ‘I have my power boating level 2, sea survival, VHF, and lifeguarding certificate. I plan to get my intermediate and advance powerboating by the challenge this summer. Because I’m only 16, experience is limited, but still I have many hours on the water, including a training trip to Portland from Lyme Regis in the dark, and an endurance trip from Lyme Regis to Dartmouth in force 4 to 5 conditions.’

Harry Besley on the high seas in a rib
Harry Besley on the high seas in a rib

Harry has teamed up with ROLEC, who have offered to help locations install charging infrastructure, and is now trying to enlist help from businesses and sponsors keen to support sustainability and environmental projects. He has had great support from the British Ports Association, The UK Harbour Master Association, British Marine, The RYA, The Yacht Harbour Association and The Green Blue.

Petrol engines burn fossil fuels, the chemicals that are produced contribute to the greenhouse effect and global warming, which has multiple very harmful effects, including increased extreme weather, melting ice caps, and rising sea levels. Petrol engines also harm water quality and cause noise pollution, which disrupts marine life.

The sound waves, which travel faster through the water, disorientate and confuse marine life causing them to swim towards areas which could cause them harm and not be able to find food or a mate.

This project will:
-Support the Clean Maritime Plan target that all new vessels being ordered for use in UK waters are designed with zero emission propulsion capability by 2025
– Enable more local sailing clubs, marinas, harbour authorities, port operators and private owners to access eBoat charging facilities
– Showcase the potential of eBoats in UK Coastal waters
– Set a baseline for eBoating capabilities in 2023 and set a target for future challenges


‘After a number of setbacks, I’m now confident that by the summer we will have the boat and charging facilities for this challenge to be a reality. I’m sure we’re going to face more challenges, but we will try our best to push past them and by the summer have an electric boat and have charging solutions in place to drive around Britain,’ continued Harry.

‘I believe that we cause too much damage to the world, and I want to change that. I wanted to do something that people will remember, something that could have an impact. If we are successful, then this project could change the future for the leisure marine industry forever,’ concluded Harry Besley aged 16.

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