A €1m Irish-built wave-piercing powerboat has set off on an epic 2,000km round-Ireland record-breaking voyage, writes Eoin English.
The hi-tech Thunder Child, built by Safehaven Marine, based in East Cork, set off from a point close to the Old Head of Kinsale in Co Cork around 10am in a bid to set a new world record for the circumnavigation of Ireland.
The sleek 18-metre Interceptor-style vessel, with five crew on board, is now powering its way along the south east and eastern seaboard, on a voyage which will take it anti-clockwise around Ireland.
Skipper Frank Kowalski, Mary Power, Ciaran Monks, Carl Randalls and Ian Brownlee are due to arrive in Portrush this evening for a refuelling stop before heading out into the Atlantic to sail around Rockall, an isolated islet some 500km off the north west coast.
It is then due to take on more fuel in Belmullet early tomorrow morning, before powering its south along the west coast, before rounding the Fastnet to head for the start-finish line off the Old Head of Kinsale.
The crew hopes to complete the never-before-attempted ‘long-way-round’ voyage, which will take them outside Ireland’s islands, within 30 to 35 hours, which should see them finish off the Cork coast around 8pm tomorrow.
Safehaven Marine is an internationally recognised designer and manufacturer of high-speed commercial sea craft, and is renowned for building boats with exceptional sea-keeping capabilities, strength and stealth.
Its vessels are in operation around the world, working in port pilot roles, in search and rescue missions, and they have been bought by various military and naval services for deployment on security and patrol operations.
After almost a year in development, Safehaven Marine MD’s Frank Kowalski, launched his newest and fastest Baracuda-style naval patrol, search and rescue vessel, Thunder Child, at the Port of Cork just before Christmas.
It is built of advanced lightweight cored composite materials, making it both strong and light. Its surface-drive propulsion system, manufactured in Italy, is powered by a pair of Caterpillar C12.9 turbocharged, supercharged, intercooler diesel engines which produced 1,000hp each.
It can reach speeds of up to 60kts, and is fitted with long range 5,000 litre fuel tanks allowing a range of over 750 nautical miles.
It is equipped with HD radar, high-spec thermal night vision cameras, and shock-mitigation seating.
The vessel’s progress is being tracked live using advanced satellite technology through a dedicated website, https://thunderchild.safetrxapp.com.
A spokesman for 8 West Consulting said the latest SafeTrx open architecture that underpins the tracking website supports tracking technology including satellite and IoT devices, in addition to smartphones.
“Our SafeTrx architecture will be receiving data from L band and Iridium Satcom devices onboard as well as a number of SafeTrx compatible Sigfox IoT (internet of things) tracking devices, as well as standard smartphones and GPS-enhanced smartphones,” he said.
Sigfox is a low-power, wide-area network designed to allow simple internet of things devices to communicate.
Since Sigfox has a long range and low power requirement, it has exciting potential in marine safety, providing connectivity in areas without cellular coverage. The Sigfox network in Ireland is operated by VT, and the network is expected to extend at least 150km out to sea. Devices communicating on the network can have batteries that last for years.
John Murphy, CEO of 8 West Consulting, said working with these new low-cost, long-range, long battery life IoT devices and new IoT distress wearables, provides our customers with new possibilities.
“We saw the prospect of partnering up with Safehaven Marine as a fantastic opportunity to test these new tracking and alerting devices in the one the harshest environments on the planet, the North Atlantic.
“Our devices on the Thunder Child will be transmitting location data over L-band, Iridium, GSM and Sigfox.
“All are integrated into SafeTrx and are accessible to the public on the tracking website.
“We have logged 750,000 hours of use already with multiple potentially catastrophic outcomes avoided because of the use of SafeTrx.”