How to Sail to New a Tub

Adventure & Travel
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Here at Coach we’re always keen to encourage readers to do something… but in this case, we’re not advising that you go straight out and try to copy the exploits of James Bowthorpe.

He’s heading to New York on 24th October to fashion a boat out of rubbish found around the city, before sailing the boat over 300 miles from the source of the Hudson River back to the Big Apple. The trip will be filmed, with the documentary to be released in 2016. Bowthorpe cycled around the world in 175 days back in 2009 (a record at the time) but this time, his motivations are a little different.

Adventure and Travel

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“When I finished the round-the-world cycle, I was plunged into this world of epic adventure. But I always felt like it was a bit elitist,” he says. “I wanted to do something that I can do from my back door with not very much money. To get more of a connection with where I live in London, and also to encourage other people. You don’t have to cycle round the world or climb Everest to experience adventure.

“When I came up with the idea I did exactly the same thing but on the Thames. I gave myself a budget of £10, found plywood in skips and I built a boat made out of stuff that I found within a mile of the Thames. Then I took the boat to the source of the Thames and rode it home. Apart from the time off I took from work, it only cost me a couple of hundred quid.”

Adventure and Travel

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So he already knows how to build a boat. What materials is he hoping to find in the rubbish? “To be honest, I’m not a particularly good boat-builder. I can do it, but I’m not trained. I think boats are one of those things where if it looks right, then it will perform as it should. I’ve got a list in my head that I want. But we’ll see.

“I’ve done walks around New York, where I’ve been keeping an eye on what’s available. In London I found loads of plywood – we use a lot of it and we throw a lot of it away. In a way the boat was a reflection of London. So in a similar way, in New York, the boat will reflect the place. They use a bit more metal than we do in buildings. I’ve seen galvanised, very thin steel and there’s a lot of plywood there too. All sorts.”

Bowthorpe knows what challenges await him on this journey. “The biggest challenge, logistically and physically, is from the source through the Hudson River Gorge, because we’ll be fairly inaccessible, and there’s grade 4 white water. When we went in April, the Hudson Gorge was still frozen from the winter. When we’re going to be there, it’ll be flowing. Also the Hudson is tidal for half its length. It’s an international shipping lane, so there are big ships. And it’s kind of storm season, so we may see a storm too…”

Adventure and travel

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One of Bowthorpe’s sponsors is watchmaker Tudor. “They have a heritage of supporting traditional expeditions. What I’m doing is quite crazy and unusual, so to have Tudor’s endorsement really helps this idea of democratising adventure.”

For more information on the Hudson River Project go to, or follow Bowthorpe on Twitter @james_bowthorpe

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Coach Staff

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