Disabled sailor is preparing to become the first person to sail across the Atlantic by breath control on her ground-breaking 46ft catamaran ‘Blown Away’
Acclaimed disabled sailor and adventurer Natasha Lambert is preparing for an historic attempt to sail across the Atlantic when she joins the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) 2020. Bidding to become the first person to make the crossing by breath control on the largest vessel ever converted to use the technology, 23-year-old Natasha will depart from Gran Canaria on November 22 after she had to postpone her challenge last year.
Her Bavaria Nautitech Open 46 catamaran, Blown Away, has been specially adapted to enable Natasha to control the yacht using Sip and Puff technology. It is particularly ‘power hungry’, so Natasha and her team require reliable power sources while underway, relying on invaluable support from generator and systems specialist Fischer Panda UK. The Dorset-based company has donated a Panda PMS 9000 ND generator, and also supplied a watermaker and air-conditioning system.
The equipment has already proved its worth this summer when Natasha and her team sailed from Cowes, Isle of Wight, to the Canaries to position Blown Away ready for the start of the ARC. Departing on August 1, they completed short day sails, stopping at various French ports, before the 1008-mile passage from Brest to Gibraltar, and the final leg to Gran Canaria, arriving on August 29. The team are planning to fly back out in early November to get ready for their greatest test so far – the renowned World Cruising Club’s 2700nm voyage across the Atlantic from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia.
Natasha’s mum, Amanda, said: “The boat is necessarily power hungry as all of the winches are powered to allow Natasha to use them. Natasha also controls the helm by using a ram. All of this results in high power consumption, which we need to replace by various methods including the Fischer Panda generator. During the sail down to the Canaries, it was in regular use daily to top up the batteries. We also took the opportunity when the generator was running to charge the batteries so that we could use the air con, which was extremely welcome as it became warmer the further south we sailed. We are planning to change all the filters and membrane on the watermaker to use during the Atlantic crossing. We would like to thank Fischer Panda for all their help and support.”
The Fischer Panda UK equipment was installed on the yacht during special adaptation by Wight Shipyard, Isle of Wight, which enables Natasha, who has quadriplegic athetoid cerebral palsy, to sail using breath control. The specially adapted system was developed by her father, Gary, using open source software, and incorporates a sip-puff system that utilises a single straw for Natasha to control both the steering or helm, and the sails.
Natasha said: “Thank you so much for your help to make my dream of sailing an ocean possible – I can’t wait to sail across the Atlantic.”
The 7.5kW/9kVA Panda PMS 9000 ND generator offers the advantages of the classic asynchronous generator, delivering a high degree of safety and reliability. Compact and lightweight, the unit is encased in a super-silent sound insultation system to ensure quiet operation. As complete systems suppliers, Fischer Panda was also able to supply reverse cycle units to provide extensive air-conditioning throughout Natasha’s yacht, with a 12,000 BTU unit for the port hull, two 6,000 BTU units for the starboard forward and aft cabins, and two 16,000 BTU units to cool the saloon. Providing safe drinking water to avoid the need to store large quantities on-board Blown Away, the Fischer Panda UK watermaker produces 70 litres per hour and is very easy to use and maintain with quiet, smooth operation.
Natasha is raising awareness of disabled sailing and attempting to raise £30,000 for three water-based charities - the RNLI, The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and the MissIsle School of Sip-puff Sailing. For more information, visit www.missisle.com which includes links to social media for updates and details on how to donate.
Fischer Panda UK offers full-system capability, servicing and aftercare, supplying marine generators, electric propulsion, air-conditioning, watermakers, and power monitoring and control solutions. The company supplies an extensive range of compact diesel generators including its next generation highly efficient and powerful variable speed iSeries-Generators.