British Columbia

B.C. couple prepares to break another transatlantic boating record

Julie and Colin Angus have already crossed the Atlantic Ocean once in a rowboat and are now preparing to break a new transatlantic record by sending out a drone vessel to do the same.

Julie and Colin Angus rowed across Atlantic Ocean; now they’re sending out a drone vessel

Julie and Colin Angus set out in June 2004 to complete the first human-powered circumnavigation of the world. The two year trip included five months crossing the Atlantic Ocean by rowboat. (Julie and Colin Angus/Angus Adventures)

Julie and Colin Angus have already crossed the Atlantic Ocean once in a rowboat and they are now preparing to break a new transatlantic record by sending out a drone vessel to do the same thing.

Rather than being on the boat themselves, they are designing and building an unmanned autonomous vessel — essentially, an aquatic robot.

The Victoria-based couple aren't strangers to high-profile adventures.

Either individually or together, they've circumnavigated the world by muscle-power alone, rafted down the Amazon River, organized a National Geographic expedition and broken boat-related records for firsts and fastest.  

"For us, it's just about going out there, exploring, pushing boundaries," Julie told CBC On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

New record

The Anguses are not the first to attempt a transatlantic crossing like this. They said they know of 27 previous attempts to make crossings with these types of autonomous boats but all have been unsuccessful.

"By looking closely at the many other attempts, we are hoping to learn — well, we are learning — from some of the problems they've faced," Colin said.

Potential obstacles include sharks, debris, storms and technical malfunctions.

If they succeed, they will set a new Guinness World Record.

"I would never quite say that we are going to succeed, but we are going to give it everything we've got," Colin said. "There is no getting around the fact that you also need a good deal of luck, too."

A prototype of the autonomous boat. (Julie and Colin Angus/Angus Adventures)

Prepared for the adventure

Julie said their previous experiences on the ocean and building boats for their sideline business Angus Rowboats have given them a good understanding of the conditions their drone boat will face and the expertise needed to tackle the technical challenges.

"We think we have a pretty good shot at making it," she said.  

The couple is working with a number of partners, including engineering students at the University of Victoria.

As part of the project, they plan to do an educational outreach program and collect oceanographic and environmental data along the way.

The vessel is set to launch next summer from L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and then head 5,000 kilometres across the ocean to Ireland.  

To hear more, including details about Julie and Colin Angus's rowboat expedition across the Atlantic, click on the audio below:

With files from On The Coast.

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