Alongside traversing the Dalton Highway in Alaska and Bolivia’s Death Road, the pair can now add ‘sailing’ a Defender to their courageous CV. Taking six hours across one of the choppiest seas Britain has to offer, the two mechanics landed safely in Ireland after a 22-mile ‘drive’ across the busy shipping lanes, led by a five-strong crew and a safety boat.
Departing from Portpatrick in Scotland, the ‘Donegal Road Trekkers’ team launched straight into the Irish Sea, finishing up in Donaghadee, County Down. The Land Rover used was a sea-going prototype crafted in their home garage, sealed and modified to tackle the daunting voyage.
Talking to UTV, the team admitted their biggest fears involved sinking and facing bad weather, but they felt completely out of their comfort zone when a Swedish oil tanker and a ferry sat either side of them.
It is believed that this journey is the fastest any vehicle has been driven across the Irish Sea, placing the Donegal Road Trekkers and their Defender firmly in the record books.
When asked what they had planned for the modified Land Rover now that the expedition was over, one plan was to rent it out for charity - or as one of the team said, ‘New York isn’t that far away…’
The next adventure is in the planning.
If you think you recognise Denis and Leslie's amphibious 110 you'd be right. This is the very same One Ten that LRO's Mark Saville piloted on Coniston Water (LRO Spring 2004) when Yorkshire farmer Steve Burgess and Protection and Performance's Dan Evans were testing the prototype designs for their historic crossing of the Bering Straits (LRO October 2008) in a purpose-built 300Tdi Defender.
Denis and Leslie bought the prototype from Steve and made several key modifications before setting a new record for driving/sailing a car across the Irish Sea. 'I'm hoping to have an opportunity to sail this remarkable Land Rover very soon,' says Mark.
Watch this space.
Photos courtesy of Paul Doherty at Studio Doherty.