Earlier this week Thunder Child returned home safely having set a new world record “Long Way Round” Circumnavigation of Ireland via Rockall (awaiting ratification by the UIM).
ON July 4th Thunder Child, the radical high speed vessel designed & built by Safehaven Marine set off on her world record attempt circumnavigating Ireland via Rockall.
The vessel left the Old Head of Kinsale at 10 AM on Tuesday morning May 28th with her crew of 5 aboard including skipper & MD of Safehaven Marine, Frank Kowalski at the helm and crew members Mary Power, Ciaran Monks, Carl Randalls & Ian Brownlee.
The route took Thunder Child and her crew in an anti-clockwise direction due to the prevailing conditions eastwards along the South coast, and then up the east coast of Ireland refuelling at Portrush in The North where a large crowed came out to support and cheer them on, before heading out into the North Atlantic at dusk to travel to Rockall, a desolate granite rock 500 KM from the coast of Ireland.
Managing Director of Safehaven Marine & Skipper of Thunder Child, Frank Kowalski said that overall the weather wasn’t great but not too bad, the South and East coast were the toughest legs, off the coast of Belfast they encountered 2m swells in wind over tide forcing them to slow down to 30kts. “Heading out to Rockall it was lumpy during the night which was probably the most dangerous leg of the voyage due to maintaining high speeds in the dark, but once we arrived it was fine” and for the most part were able to maintain a speed of over 40kts during daylight. Arriving at Rockall at dawn, the crew took some time out to launch their small inflatable dingy and row over to leave a small plaque on the rock, and captured some amazing images at sunrise before departing, this lost them time but according to the crew “it was well worth it to be able to touch the rock”
They then departed Rockall and heading towards the west coast of Ireland for their second refuelling point at Ballyglass Pier in Belmullet where again they had a great reception. Mr. Kowalski said “we had for the most part fair conditions for the run down the West coast, although visibility was poor at times in fog”.
Thunder Child then departed from Belmullet for the run home. On the way they stopped at Blackrock Lighthouse in Blacksod Bay where they laid a wreath for the victims of Rescue 116 with their social media post stating ‘We took time out on our record attempt to honor the crew of the Irish Coastguard Rescue 116, at Black Rock light house off Black Sod Bay. We at this time are more than aware of the great work that these brave people give to the public. We are laying this wreath today in memory of those who perished at this lighthouse.’
The South coast leg past Fastnet presented flat calm seas and sunshine allowing her to maintain 46kts on the final leg with Thunder Child roaring past the finish line in Kinsale at 52kts in a total time of 34 hours, 1 minute and 47 seconds to cover just over 2,000km, which includes over 4hrs when she was stoped refuelling or documenting video. Throughout the run she performed faultlessly, handling the conditions effortlessly and keeping her crew safe and comfortable. Her Caterpillar C12.9 1,000hp main engine also never missed a beat and proved totally reliable.
The crew expressed their thanks to a number of people including the Harbourmaster in Portrush, the RNLI in Ballyglass, the Courtmacsherry lifeboat who meet them at the old Head of Kinsale and the Crosshaven lifeboat who came out as they entered Cobh, the Port of Cork for sending out their tug and the Cork Pilot Boat, The Quays Bar in Cobh, their sponsors and everyone who came out to show their support.
As an internationally recognised designer and manufacturer of high speed commercial craft, Safehaven Marine based in Youghal has already built a reputation for exceptional sea keeping capabilities, stealth and strength. The company’s boats are deployed internationally for search and rescue missions, security and patrolling in open water and piloting in harbours as well as military and naval operations.
Watch the documentary about the World record voyage below