Man sets off on round-the-world trip in car-boat

 Mait Nilson leaves with his amphibious car rebuilt from a Toyota Land Cruiser in Tallinn, Estonia, as he starts his trip around the globe. Picture: Getty Images

An Estonian has begun a trip around the world in a Toyota Land Cruiser that he turned into an amphibious vehicle that will cross land, oceans and rivers on a 60,000km journey.

Mait Nilson, 44, a mechanical engineer who worked on the project for the past seven years, waved goodbye to friends and fans as he set off from Taillin on a journey he estimates will take nine months.

“This has been my dream since I was a 10-year-old boy and spent summers at our cottage near lake Peipsi in East Estonia,” Nilson said before his departure in the vehicle dubbed Amphibear.

Photos on his website depict a vehicle that looks much like a typical 4x4, aside from large attachments surrounding it which allow it to metamorphose into a 10m boat.

It sports an anchor, hydraulic pump and portable toilet. A stove is built into the back door.

“The first sea crossing will be the Strait of Gibraltar, the first river crossing is in Senegal, and the first ocean crossing is the Atlantic,” Nilson said.

He will be joined by several co-pilots on different legs of the journey.

“Amphibear can cover 120 nautical miles in a day in ideal conditions. Most legs last less than 5 days and can be covered when the weather forecast is good. On land the car-boat can drive at speeds of up to 110km/h,” Nilson said.

The vehicle will cover 60,000km through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Cape Verde, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, USA, Canada and Russia.

“So far I have spent around 200 hours at sea with my amphibious car,” Nilson added. “ Amphibear has some disadvantages when compared to a catamaran or a boat. It has a higher centre of gravity and less room for crew. But its big advantage is low wind drag, meaning less risk to capsize due to wind than sailing catamarans.”


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