Our resident YouTube addict Kass Schmitt has high hopes for a new channel documenting an ambitious refit of 1990s Vendée Globe race boat Duracell into a family cruiser.

Let me tell you a story about a young man, a boat builder and a sailor who, after some adventures at sea, heard about a legendary old race boat which had been languishing for decades on the west coast of the USA, and decided to undertake the Herculean task of rebuilding her.

No, I’m not talking (again) about Leo from Tally Ho, but a rather more recent bit of racing history: Mike Plant’s Duracell, which the American solo racer famously campaigned in the inaugural Vendée Globe Race in 1989.

Plant had constructed the boat himself in Newport, Rhode Island, to a Rodger Martin design. He then managed to complete his solo lap of the world, but not without having accepted assistance from some Campbell Islanders when Duracell dragged anchor during a pitstop there, resulting in his disqualification.

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Plant’s story is told in the excellent 2017 documentary Coyote: The Mike Plant Story, directed by his nephew, and well worth the few quid it takes to watch online.

But back to the latest chapter in Duracell’s story… Our new protagonist is Matt Steverson of Seattle, who was one of the crew of three that won the inaugural 710 mile Race to Alaska in 2015 on a borrowed Farrier 25c trimaran.

In 2017 he and his new wife, science teacher Janneke Petersen, set off on a two year Pacific circumnavigation on the 39 ft pilot cutter they’d spent the previous two years refitting.

While cruising the Pacific, the couple spent a lot of time dreaming about their ideal cruising boat, and when they heard the subsequent owner of Duracell was looking to pass her on to a good home, they stepped up to the challenge.

The first episode of The Duracell Project covers the tricky extraction and transport of the boat from the previous owner’s backyard to Matt & Janneke’s. Eagle-eyed viewers may recognise the truck as that used for both of Tally Ho’s moves.

The fifth episode shows Matt building a gantry lift to the boat’s engine out, with a similar kind of ingenuity Leo displayed when he first jacked Tally Ho up off her keel.

Meanwhile Janneke, who spent much of episode 3 relating Duracell’s backstory, promises to share more about themselves in future videos.

Her blog from their Pacific cruise shows she is both a talented storyteller and a thoughtful and fascinating person. We’re in for a treat.

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