Alex first approached Fasthosts earlier this year seeking sponsorship for a world record attempt on his Pixel Boat. We had to find out more! Alex explained how the entire challenge is crowdfunded by sponsorship and the selling of ‘pixels’ – carefully measured areas on the boat’s hull – to members of the public, schools and other organisations. It was clear that this was his life’s work and that nothing would stop him attempting the solo non-stop around the world record. We liked him immediately.
In September I went to visit Alex at the Southampton Boat Show, which was certainly an eye-opener when it comes to understanding the endurance challenge he faces. After spotting Pixel Boat in Southampton docks looking very different to the luxury yachts and attracting a great deal of attention, I was really keen to get on board and find out more about the journey first-hand.
Clambering aboard it was clear that the boat is powered almost entirely by solar, with a bit of hydropower to help when power dips. Alex demonstrated where he would sit and steer when he’s above deck faced with all the elements. Bumping my head after being warned I would, I wiggled into the hull of the boat where Alex will spend most of his time during the four-and-a-half-month challenge.
There’s no fridge (just a gap in the bottom of the boat which the water keeps cool), no shower and no toilet. A bed will be created for the trip out of memory foam to fit the flooring (Alex would fall out of the hammock-style built-in beds when the boat leans over, and he simply can’t risk injury) while his ‘oven’ consists of a little gas cooker and kettle. Alex is completely alone on this challenge, with nothing but his GPS, satellite phones running on different systems, and TV (with built-in DVD player, navigated in the dark via bike lights) to keep him going below deck while out on the open ocean. Alex demonstrated how the radar system works and what a CPA is, showing me the standalone unit incorporating a MacBook, which gives him all the information he needs on his travels. He also has everything from heavy metal to classic soundtracks to keep him occupied – all the bases covered.
While he’s out at sea, Alex’s diet is either boil-in-the-bag or freeze-dried dishes like Thai curry and rice, accompanied by a box of protein bars and high-carb snacks. Alex explained that he’ll try to eat around 5,000+ calories a day while at sea – that’s a lot of food (his adventurer wife, Paula, had to consume 7,000 calories a day on her hike to the South Pole).
Climbing through the boat, past spare sails and kit, I spotted a single escape hatch, to be used should Alex capsize. As I peered through the windows at the bottom of the boat to see fish, Alex explained that the windows are actually for looking for rope and other items which could be tangled up underneath the hull. I clearly have a lot to learn.
Alex showed me the bean bag he wedges in front of his monitors, where he sits with his Bluetooth keyboard and dongle, writing his emails, monitoring his site and planning what he’ll be doing. As we talked, I realised it’s quite a noisy boat, with the water lapping loudly around it.
When it comes to the challenge, I have no doubt that Alex will put everything into this trip. Alex doesn’t strike me as the sort of person who ever does anything in half measures, and I’m already nervous and excited about waving him off for the big adventure next year.
Setting off from Ushant, France next November, Fasthosts will continue to share Alex’s progress via social media, including monitoring his GPS tracker, as he looks to beat the current world record of 137 days, 20 hours, 1 minute and 57 seconds.
Click here to buy pixels and support Alex in his challenge. Each pixel is just £25, if you get stuck for a Christmas present this could be your solution, one which would sail the world in a record breaking attempt.
To find out more about Alex and Fasthosts sponsorship, please read our press release and follow us on social media. We’ll be using the Twitter hashtags #PixelBoat and #FastBoat. You can follow Alex's progress here.
To watch a short video of Pixel Boat on YouTube (before the Fasthosts sails), simply click here.